Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why television is so great

For me, summer is all about television. Surprising, I know, since nothing of real substance is on (unless you count premium channels). But for me, it's the chance to start new shows, catch up on old shows or re-watch some of my favorite shows. For example I have used previous summers to discover Dexter, 24, Community, The Big C and last summer Friday Night Lights. In the past week I randomly watched the first episode of FNL, which resulted in my familiar addiction, leading me to watch almost the whole series. This a show that reminds me why I believe television to be so great. It is one of the few shows that gave me goosebumps on a continual basis. I am not kidding, when anything emotional, triumphant or just plan awesome, I would get the goosebumps. It's an odd thing to feel so connected to fictional characters with made up lives. It is one of the truest shows I have ever seen, and sometimes that's a lot harder to pull off than great effects or epic plots.

For example, look at any doctor or crime show. Yes, they have a real world premise but many of the story lines are relatively unrealistic. I don't see that with FNL, I believe it to the point where something happens to a character and I have an emotion a friend would feel. The writing is unbelievable, the actors are terrific, but there is some element that makes it addicting to watch. One of the best things about FNL though, is the music. It is packed with Explosions in the Sky songs (if you don't know who they are check them out, it's great study music), which is enough but on top of it they find these rich, emotional songs. I don't know if there is a better sequence with so much raw emotion and action than the scenes of the last football game in the series finale.

It is pretty remarkable that for the second time watching this series, I have the exact same emotions as I did the last time. You could even argue that I love the characters even more now. I've never lived in Texas, I've never been connected to high school football, but watching this show makes me feel like I know everything about what it's talking about. It is a show about real people with real problems mixed with some pretty great football games.

What is great about television, however, is I can go from this small town of Dillon, Texas watching football to seeing the 1960s advertising period with Mad Men. The great shows grab you and connect with you but the thing about the best shows is they have characters. The plot and drama is what makes it exciting but it is the connection with the characters that have people coming back. That is why I can watch a show like Game of Thrones and a show like Grey's Anatomy. Polar opposites, but still diverse characters.

Obviously movies have these similar qualities, and so do books, but there is something about TV where you have to come back week after week and go on a journey with a variety of characters. Why do you think there was such an uproar when Shonda Rhimes killed off a chief character of Grey's Anatomy this past season? Why do you think people get so upset when any character dies on any television show? It's because they learn about them, care about them, and it grows week by week. The most brilliant shows, and the ones that win Emmys, are the ones who can make you hate a character but still make you love them. They can make people seem human and add characteristics that anyone can connect to.

That is why television is so great. That is why I have so many shows I watch. I get something different and new out of every show I watch. Of course the plots are what can help turn people away (Izzie seeing Denny's ghost, Lost getting too complicated, Mad Men getting too weird), but hear me when I say I come and stay for the characters. If I don't care about them, I don't want to invest my time. So do yourself a favor and watch Friday Night Lights because within one episode, 42 minutes of television, you have all kinds of emotions for everyone included.

With that I have some random side notes a greatness.
1. The first photos of the Twilight final film have surfaced and I'm sure a lot of people are excited but personally, I'm not overly enthused. Sure it's a big franchise but I plan to see the last movie once and be done with it. Seeing Kristen Stewart as a vampire is kind of cool, though.
2. I saw Avengers for a second time last week and can assure you it is even better another time around. This makes me extremely excited about the third Iron Man, which had a new photo released. It has a May 3, 2013 release date.
3. It's official I have my Dark Knight Rises midnight ticket all set, and can I say how difficult it was. My good friend was looking up tickets for our local theater for IMAX and five days after they went on sale, they were sold out. Pretty remarkable.

With that I say... Live long and prosper.

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