Thursday, November 20, 2008

Television is an art...but sometimes it's just a business

There are times when I think television is one of the best media for artistic and creative expression. And there are times, like right now, when I read that ABC has decided not to order the back 9 episodes on 3 of its sophomore shows that I remember that television is just a business. The people in charge? They don't want to inspire people. They don't want to make people laugh. They don't want to make people see things from a different perspective. They don't want to fuel people's imaginations. They just want to make money. Television is about ratings and selling ads and yes, there are some commercials that have become more entertaining, sophisticated, and artistic over the years, but for the most part I do not watch tv for the commercials.

Dirty Sexy Money, I think, was a lost cause anyway. There were flickers of my old show - Brian always represented season one well, and even Tripp had a moment of vulnerability and humanity in this week's otherwise over the top episode that was an example of soap at it's best (and by best, I mean worst). They changed the show to get more viewers and it backfired. This show was already pretty much dead to me, so it's probable cancellation is no great loss.

Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone, however, were two of the best shows on. In a way, though they could both be dark and depressing, they were both also incredibly feel good and inspiring and original, something that's hard to come by in a television landscape riddled with shows that are mediocre, derivative, and sometimes just craptastic. I think they both had shaky first abbreviated seasons, but I think they were both starting to come into their own this year, especially Pushing Daisies, which left me in tears this week (I do not exaggerate) what with Ned embracing his newly found half-brothers and dealing together with their father abandonment issues to Chuck getting to "speak" to her newly found mother and ask her all the questions she never got to ask when she was alive. On top of which, Fred Willard was also in the episode. I love Fred Willard!

And now my favorite corporate shark turned do-gooder who is trying to save the world one person in need at a time, Eli Stone, is out of a job. As is my favorite piemaker who is learning to love and be loved. Shows like these allow me to believe, if only for a little while, that people are basically good and want to help their fellow humankind. And that true love exists. But the fact that gems like these get the boot while dreck like Private Practice (sorry, Taye Diggs), Kath and Kim, or that 90210 remake get to live to see another episode? That's the real slap in the face.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bizarro world, or maybe I don't know good tv after all...

Um, I think I may be cracking up. Because I think I just read that Kath & Kim received a full-season pick-up. And I know that can't possibly be true. Because that would mean there are actually people out there who like this show. Even if it's just the execs who ordered an entire season. It's maddening. I like Molly Shannon. I think she's very funny. But she seems to have only two switches: over the top or manic beyond belief. Both of which, like I said, can be funny. But usually in small doses. I think I saw one scene where she acted like an adult and put her daughter ahead of her own happiness and even got exasperated with Kim at one point, but then two seconds later, it disappears and they're bonding over something shallow and moronic. I think Kath can be worked with, if the writers wanted to. Her fiance doesn't bother me so much. I think really it's just Kim and her husband that make this quite possibly the worst show on television ever. Kim has no redeeming qualities. I love a good villain as much as the next girl. I love characters you just love to hate. But Kim is selfish and stupid and shallow with not a shred of self-awareness. And the worst part is that it's not being done in an ironic kind of way; it doesn't seem to be trying to comment on society or whatever. Apparently the writers just think we're supposed to find it funny that Kim dresses like a hooker and acts like a spoiled five year old and doesn't care at all about her mother or her husband, the two people who love her. And yes, we get it, Kim's husband is stupid, but just how stupid are we supposed to believe he is? What does he see in Kim? For that matter, what does Kim see in him? He's not rich. He doesn't cater to her every whim. Maybe I'm just expecting a little too much from television to ask that there be some motivation behind a character's actions, or for a character to have layers (even two would be better than one), or for the humor to be subtle or at the very least funny. I guess maybe I'm just a little too high-maintenance when it comes to being a television viewer.