The Boob Tube (Part Two)

A few weeks ago, I wrote an entry about several of the more popular television series currently running. Mostly, I complained about some of my favorite shows. The truth is, there are very few modern shows that don't make me roll my eyes at the state of modern entertainment. This time, instead of griping like the cynical old lady I am rapidly becoming, I want to focus on the series I do enjoy, and why.

I promise this one will be much shorter. I really rambled last time.

Doctor Who

If you're reading my blog, you already know how much of a nerd I am. Doctor Who is my favorite television series of all time. It's actually going to be the theme for my wedding. I'll be cosplaying as River Song. Old and new alike, the show is an essential staple of the science fiction genre.

If you've never watched the show, it can be difficult to understand the level of pure obsession that takes hold of your friends who have. First off, for geeks, there's something about sci-fi that's lasted a long time. "Original series," "first edition" and similar phrases hold an extreme power over us. The first episode of Doctor Who aired on November 23rd, 1963 - three years before anyone gave Captain Kirk a starship.

It's important to note that the newer series wouldn't have stood up to fan scrutiny if it didn't flawlessly encompass the mood and intent of the original. It's the utter ridiculousness of every single situation that makes for such a fantastic show. The tongue-in-cheek approach to everything is my favorite kind of comedy. The show pokes fun at everything from entertainment to politics to science, but without attacking or becoming misanthropic. It's always lighthearted, even when dealing with dark subject matter. It often tackles real issues and teaches real life lessons while making you laugh.

Best of all is the constant mockery of science fiction itself. Doctor Who takes every overdone trope in the book and warps it into something new and hysterical. They don't break the fourth wall in a strict sense, but the characters dance around it in ever-amusing ways. Doctor Who is really the one show I actually watch while it's airing, rather than waiting for it to show up on Hulu or Netflix.

Parenthood

This show is a double-edged sword for me, in truth. I thoroughly enjoy it, but the characters often frustrate me with their bad decisions. It's a central element. The show is exploring how people learn and grow from mistakes, and how families can come together to persevere through the most difficult of circumstances. At the end, it's always heartwarming, but the journey can be difficult.

The show seems to emphasize poor decision making in order to prove a point. The majority of problems that characters face stem from a failure to communicate effectively. This is a theme that I see through various shows, actually. It happens so constantly that it makes me wonder how many real people are that deceptive with their partners. Obviously, many television tropes about relationships are blatantly bogus, but with such a high rate of divorce in the US, I can't necessarily rule this one out as false.

Whether the characters are statistically average or not, they learn their lesson by the end of the episode. Along the way, the show deals with issues like Autism, sexism, the American legal system, and more. At the end, it's a feel-good show about overcoming obstacles together.

Derek

(Minor Spoiler Alert)

Derek is a British show created by Ricky Gervais. Although there is definitely comedy in the show, it's not as much as one might expect of Mr. Gervais. It very quickly becomes apparent that this is the kind of story he's always wanted to tell, and can now that he has the fame and resources.

The series hits on some hot button topics. The protagonist, Derek, works as an aide in a nursing home. He may or may not have learning disabilities - the conclusion being that it really didn't matter. The nurse character has no qualms about speaking out about the health care system in general, or specifically its treatment of the elderly. It's the kind of show that will make you both laugh and cry, and there's always a valuable lesson about friendship, family, and the way we treat others.

Comments