Sunday, October 21, 2007

Earl and Samantha versus bad television

Most television is unwatchable. Daytime programs are wretched and have little or no interest to men: Baba Wawa's kaffeklatsch -- a torturing device, game shows, soap operas, relationship chat shows; all this assorted dreck. What passes for local "news": fires, car wrecks, murders are all sad, but are all the same,* and the lifestyle segments -- what can the housewife do to interest herself and the like have less gravitas than dandelion fluff.

The popular reality genre is often despicable: Survivor, let us put people outside of civilisation and manipulate them into social darwinism experiments, then there is the show where people compete in eating roadkill viscera while a "host" cheer leads and berates them. But the worst was The Mole, where within the group there is a Judas/spion/provocateur. I only saw the advertisements and am, thusly, spared any recalling of events.

Fox programming is aggressively going for the least common denominator and fascist inculcation. The national newsy programs give little news and also are pursuing news light, when not giving further display and credence to the corporate, moneyed, movements "conservative"† party line non-reality version of things. God rest the soul of Edward R. Murrow.

Two programs that may shine from this dung heap are My Name is Earl and Samantha Who? The premises are wonderful. Earl confesses and takes responsibility for his former bad actions and attempts to make amends for all of them, and as a corollary benefit: those around him become better too. I have seen only one episode of Samantha, whom awakes from a coma without knowing whom she is and finds out that she does not like that person. It seems her instincts are to be a better person than she was.

These two speak of resurrection and redemption of the human soul. They ask what is a man truly? what is his nature? Both Earl and Samantha are trying to be the persons they should be, their genuine selves, their selves before the fall. There may be more philosophy and ethics in these two comedies than anything on television since Bishop Fulton Sheen was on Dumont.

* I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper. If we read of one man robbed, or murdered, or killed by accident, or one house burned, or one vessel wrecked, or ... we never need read of another. One is enough. If you are acquainted with the principle, what do you care for a myriad instances and applications? -- Henry David Thoreau in Walden

† a more apropos term would be anti-democratic.

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