September 9, 2004

The new TV season.

I reached the height of my interest in the new TV season when I was 14. I can get the age exactly right because I remember poring over the new season issue of TV Guide the year "My Mother the Car"--aka "the worst television series of all time"--premiered. Since then, my interest has waned. I leafed through the new season issue of Entertainment Weekly last night, and I could scarcely turn the pages fast enough. I see there's a new season of "The Real World." That's worth checking out if only to see what the new house looks like. I see KenJen is back on "Jeopardy!" and I find I don't care. And "Joey" premieres tonight, but the only reason to care is that we get Adriana back. And "The Apprentice" is back. Do I feel compelled to watch by some horrifying cultural force? I feel compelled to TiVo, and time will tell if I watch the series, watch only until I get tired of it, or leave the recorded show to drift down to the bottom of the "What's On" list and then ignominiously drop off.

UPDATE: The TiVo list, which I've spent a lot of time looking at, is not called "What's On," it's called "Now Playing." How could I make such a mistake? Because "What's On" is what you say about TV. "Now Playing" is what you say about movie theaters. Having a TiVo doesn't turn your TV into a movie theater. (Nor does making your room into a "home theater.") Not only are you still watching the shows on a television, but you have the capacity to pause and rewind--how is that like a movie theater?

Also, I TiVo'd and watched the first episode of "The Real World," where they are in Philadelphia and they are living in a cavernous old bank, which has furniture set up to make it seem vaguely house-like. It's weird to see Philadelphia portrayed as "the big city," especially when one character goes on about how he's from a "small town," encountering "the big city" for the first time, and he's from Nashville! (Check the relative population of American cities here.) One thing about the show this season is that there is a UW-Madison student in the cast. He seems to be there to be officially the most ordinary person (male category--Melanie seems to be holding down that role in the female category). The big idea for the season seems to be having two gay guys in the cast to surprise the roommates who assume once they've found one gay guy there won't be another gay guy, but, oh, there is. Wow, and he's less obviously gay, so that's a big learning experience for them, but they seem to learn it in two seconds, so I wonder if there's much story left, because the narrative potential of this cast match-up seems fulfilled in episode one. Good episode, but what is left--other than the usual getting drunk in clubs and tubs?

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