I have been on a nostalgic high for quite a while now. And its all because of television. I love television. I remember loving it ever since I was a kid. I even remember getting disciplined by my parents when I was younger for watching too much of it. They say that today’s generation is the Internet Generation. I truely believe that those people of my generation were the last of the Television Generation.
I remember as a kid, it would be the hardest thing in the world to get up early in the morning for school. But when Saturday morning came along, I used to be up at 8, sometimes even 7am just to watch Saturday morning Cartoons.
What little control of my schedule I had when I was younger was dominated by TV. When I got up in the morning for school, after quickly brushing my teeth and getting ready, it was straight to the TV. I still remember the shows I used to watch in the mornings: Goof Troop, Dark Wing Duck, Duck Tails and Tailspin (which I didn’t really like). After watching those shows durring breakfast, my mornings would be set. At lunch, I would rush home and watch Inspector Gadget and Care Bears (which I didn’t like much either but still watched).
For me, TV was a way of life. Everything in my young life at that point in time revolved around TV. Saturday mornings were chock full of TV goodness. The best of childrens programming came on Saturdays. We had all the disney cartoons playing in the mornings on one channel. Then we would have all the Nickelodeon shows and cartoons on another channel. This was on top of all the great Canadian shows and cartoons that would dominate various other channels. Saturdays were what every kid lived for, without ever realizing it. Shows like Hey Arnold!, Rugrats, Tiny Toon Adventures, Bettlejuice are what made our childhoods.
Canadian children’s programming is something that I value especially. YTV was, and still is the cornerstone of Canadian programming for kids. I have watched the evolution of YTV over the number of years. Their programs were so much simplier than those of the American ones. And that is what made them so appealing. Its almost as if YTV knew exactly what appealed to us and made good TV out of that. The PJ’s were the cornerstone of YTV. If I remember correctly, there was PJ Jenn, PJ Phil, PJ Aashna and one or two others. These people are the ones that showed us how to recycle old pop bottles and make them into something uniquely beautiful. These are the people that celebrated Earth Day when most people didn’t even know such a day existed. I think YTV has a special place in every young Canadian’s heart.
As the years went on, my tastes in programming began to change, although I still watched the “classics” avedly. I found that slowly my tastes went from Family Matters to more mature shows like ER, The West Wing and Felicity. We all know the rough and tumble life teens experience during Junior High and High School; the up’s and down’s that we all experience. TV, especially shows like Fraiser and Seinfeld were perfect escapes from our reality a fictional reality. I also found that the more my tastes changed in television, the more I began to apprciate the artistic merits of writing, lighting, acting, and such. This continues to happen to this day.
I’ll watch some of the new shows aimed at kids on the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon every now and then, such as That’s so Raven and The Suite Adventures of Zack and Cory, and I can’t help but think back to the good old days of The Zone, Boy Meets World, and Degrassi. I think I watch those shows mostly for the feelings of nostalgia that I experience when watching them. Also, it serves as a good way to escape the everyday grind that is life. The shows nowadays make good use of colour on their sets and with their costums so its natural to have this stress free feeling when watching them.
Speaking of escapism, thats probably my justification for watching Two And A Half Men and variants of it. Some people say its a really bad show, and they might be right to some extent. But I think the relative success of that show and According to Jim is that they let you escape into their wacky little worlds so one can forget about theirs, even for just a half hour. And for the record, no, I don’t watch According to Jim. These are the types of shows that give you a cheap laugh and for a lot of people, thats good enough.
They say that movies are one of the most magical things man has ever created. The difference between movies and television is that the magic in movies ends in 2-2.5 hours whereas in television, that magic can go on for years. In the context of prime time, television is a form of story telling. It serves as a window in which we all look through and experience what others lives are all about. Maybe thats whats so faciniating, the fact that are able to engage so heavily into the stories of characters to the extent that we can almost see ourselves in place of those characters. Or just the fact that we can almost be a part of the story without actually being in it…maybe thats what facinates us so much.
There is more art involved in television than many of us actually appriciate. The example of ER, and Grey’s Anatomy are excellent for this. The writing of these two shows is simply mindblowing. The story lines that these two shows alone produce are enough to give one a whole new appriciation for human artistic ability. The acting is a whole different story from the writing. Anthony Edwards as Mark Green, when he had cancer and eventually died, gave us a glimpse into the world of brain tumours and cancer in a fashion that most of us have never been exposed to. And the feelings of heartbreak and jeleousy were probably displayed as best as they possibley could be on screen in the second season of Grey’s. This is aside from the camera angels, lighting and sound editing inherant on these two shows. The West Wing and X-Files are another good example of the latter.
Specialty channels are another charm on tv. They have totally turned television into something that is more than just entertainment. There are so many specialty channels out there but I will talk only about one: The Food Network. This channel has given me a new appriciation for food. The colours, the tastes, the presentation, these are all things I never even thought of before I began to watch the channel. Nigella Lawson and Giada De Laurentiis give food a whole new meaning. They are so passionate about food and its absolutely wonderful to see them express it the way that they do.
For me, TV is quite possibley the greatest medium to ever exist…besides the Internet of course. This is probably something that will never change. Some people use reading to escape. I use TV. It is a world that is unlike any other. And with things like sattilite and HD, its only going to get better.