Wednesday, April 06, 2005
The evolution of television
I think that one of the surest signs of the progression of our generation is found in the relatively recent trend (the last five to seven years, I would estimate) of collecting TV series. I remember when I was a kid and my father taped every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation on Friday nights at 10:00 pm, and how he would pause the show during commercials while recording to have a dubbed copy. I remember sometimes just watching hours of the fourth and fifth season tapes, and just soaking it all in. I especially remember watching TNG late into the night in my first May back at home after school before camp started; I think I watched the last four seasons of TNG in about a week and a half. But never did I imagine that only a few years later that this trend would blossom and bloom, aided by the mass production of the DVD and now BitTorrent protocol, and that entire series would be available long after they were thought gone. I grew up in a TV generation. In the 50s, they watched a lot of TV; the 60s were too busy for TV; the 70s was mostly bad TV; but television flourished in the 80s and 90s. It became one of the most potent mediums, and now our generation is reaping that telly goodness, particularly of the cartoon vein. Take, for example, the list of shows that my roommates have in our possession (please note that I do not necessarily like all of these shows, but I am only acknowledging that they are in our household as an indication of the trend): Corner Gas, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Freakazoid, The Tick (animated), X-Men, Undergrads, Drawn Together, Invader Zim, Family Guy, Clone High, Thundercats, Daria (seasons 1-3), Star Trek: The Animated Series, Astro Boy, The Real Ghostbusters (seasons 1 +2), Transformers, Futurama, The Smurfs, Get Smart, and Captain N: The Game Master. Others on the way soon, whether through purchase or (mostly) legal download will be Darkwing Duck, Reboot, MASK, Fantastic Four, Gargoyles, Rescue Rangers, Tiny Toons, and Batman: The Animated Series. It is a lot of television, but it goes faster than you might think. The fact is, a couple of episodes of a show like that are great for a break while writing a paper. I know we're probably among the rare households to put in the work to obtain all of these shows, and it will probably take us years to watch them all, but it's so good to have them. It brings back good memories, and you even get exposed to new things. TV over the past few years has really taken a dip, though. A decade ago, I could watch a lot of shows, especially Saturday morning cartoons. Now, it's all so weak. I have two shows that I watch deliberately right now: Corner Gas and Survivor Palau. The rest is pretty much just not worth my time, even though I do acknowledge that there are some other shows that display talent in writing and acting. The point is that for the most part, television and cartoons are a flagging medium, and I have to go to the past to find things worth watching. Or, I could just always wait a year until the shows are released on DVD and watch them then. Hrm. Sometime, I will compile a complete list of shows that I would buy on DVD and/or download if they were unavailable. For now, I've got at least two series to watch. That should keep me busy during finals season. The joy of television.