15 February 2009

TV Addiction

TV has become really good. When did that happen? As a kid, we didn’t have a TV for a lot of my early years. When we did get one for a few years, Saturday morning programming was Captain Kangaroo and Brother Buzz. Not much point in even watching.

For a good part of my adult life, I also never had a TV. At the time it was a matter of money and, besides, there wasn’t a whole lot that I wanted to watch. (this was all pre-cable networks). If I were in the US, I would watch only when visiting friends or staying with family. I never felt that I was missing out.

It was in Israel that I got a TV; a tiny little 10 inch thing that I bought at duty-free on the way out of the country, then picked it up when I returned 3 weeks later. (how one avoided import tax at the time.) I remember jumping up and down when I finally got the cable hooked up; my little TV sitting on the floor since I had no furniture, not even a bed. A friend came by later that day and I turned it on exclaiming, Look, a TV! He turned to me and said in a serious tone, ‘You know, I have seen TV in Israel before.’…Oh.

The most important thing at the time was that I could watch CNN and BBC, 24 hours a day. If something blew up in Israel, it was on CNN before the local news and had the great advantage of being in English. The choice of non-news television was a bit limited. I remember watching lots of re-runs of 10 year old American sit-coms. I didn’t watch them with a passion; more as a brain-numbing escape from daily life. And I do remember watching the Russian variety shows which I loved because of the fashion aspect. Russian women, and men, have the most incredibly distinctive, flashy couture. http://katerambles.blogspot.com/search?q=russian+olympics

The next few places I lived I either didn’t have a TV, or it was limited to local programming. I recall nights in the tiny town of Hurghada, Egypt, watching ‘So You Want to Be a Millionaire’ in Arabic only because I had run out of books to read. I would try to pick out a few words that had a Latin base, or historical significance, and then try to guess which of the 4 answers was correct. I actually got a few. And as for books, I was an insatiable reader which was no easy task in a country with limited access to fiction in English.

By the time I arrived in Vietnam, the world had changed. Apartments rented to foreigners came furnished with a TV and cable programming. Not only could I watch CNN and BBC, but Australian networks and American series that were no more than one year out-of-date. If I didn’t want to wait for a series to be aired, I could buy a pirate copy of the entire season for a few bucks. And of course there was American Idol, which was broadcast on a one-day delay basis only because of the time difference between the US and Vietnam.

I started to notice that there was at least one show a night that I just had to see because I found them so fascinating. It was in Vietnam that I got hooked on Lost, Prison Break, Damages, Heroes, Doc Martin, Outrageous Fortune, and Stingers, to name a few. (the last three are British, New Zealander (is that right?), and Australian.) So when I arrived back in the US, I immediately started to look into when all these shows would be broadcast, and when the new seasons would begin. The only regret is that the superior BBC series are rarely available here and you can forget about TV shows from down under. Oh, and the other disappointment is the cable news American style, which sucks. http://katerambles.blogspot.com/2005/10/cnn-asia.html

But it got even better. Now, if I can’t see a program the night it is broadcast, I can watch it the next day on the internet! This is life changing! No waiting for summer re-runs to watch the episode you missed. And the fact that I am going on about TV shows is, if not worrisome, very strange to me. When did I become such an addict?

All I can think is that the American series that I presently watch have a bit of a twist to them; a taste of paranormal, or a bit of fifth dimension. They all contain action but are not police dramas or hospital traumas, genres I abhor. And new ones keep coming onboard. I could wish for another really good Sci Fi series, since I feel that is lacking in my viewing pleasure, but then again I am close to overload on television input.

Maybe this is a phase; maybe not. Maybe I will get bored with the shows or maybe they will get old, as they usually do. I used to be an American Idol fan, but that is waning. Perhaps I will once again become an avid reader. None of this really matters at all. What is important to me is that I have a choice of wonderful, one-hour escapes that take me to into fascinating worlds, all at the click of a button.

Now, if I could just get to see all those shows from other countries!