Monday, March 1, 2010

Is television bad for you?

I'm not a big fan of TV but I love watching good TV series and made for TV movies. The thing about having is TV is like having a spouse who can only be approached only at certain hours of the day. I find that stifling and constraining. I used to rush back home everyday Wednesday just to catch the X-files and wait patiently on Sunday mornings for Beast Wars. When I was younger god knows why the local TV stations scheduled kid’s shows like The Herculoids in the late mornings when all us kids were in school. And the things TV stations make us do are incredible to the point of being merciless. Sometimes shows get cut off 5 minutes before they end. Sometimes there is no continuity to the next episode. And most the times they make us sit through horrendous commercials slotted at the wrong segment and censorship is done by butchers.

When the internet came into the picture I hadn't realize how fantastic it would be to have come to this stage where mp4, avi, mkv, rmvb and a whole lot of other versions of movies and shows can be viewed. Letting go of the entire television set was not a problem to me since the local TV stations are still up to their unprofessionalism to this day. Even the cable TV is a whole lot of reruns and nothing more.

Today, one can purchase or download, legally and illegally, an entire season of their favorite TV series without having to go through the agony of watching them on TV. If the TV stations don't buck up soon they may be a thing of the past before they can cry foul.

Since the availability of shows is at the finger tips of anyone and everyone they can be quite overwhelming when so many new shows are popping up year after year from all over the world. So is television bad for you whether you watch it straight from the transmission or at your own leisure? That question has to come back to you to answer.

There are all kinds of reasons for watching TV, and they range from killing time, entertainment, information update, inspiration, getting ideas and whatever not. If you are the kind of person who can get easily addicted to things, TV can be a very bad influence on your life. And all TV shows are meant to do that, get you hooked week after week. The thing is, if you can control yourself by detaching yourself from TV shows as and when you want then watching any of them that dumb you down or tug on your heartstrings will make no difference. But, not many are able to resist. So the only other thing that you can do is to pick and choose shows that somehow makes sense to you. You don't have to watch everything that is being offered by turning on the idiot box 24-7 when you're home.

Sometimes TV shows start off very intelligently but they can soon fall into the category for the obtuse and dense. I always thought Tom and Jerry is nothing but violence and sheer stupidity and I never liked it even when I was a kid. But when SpongeBob Squarepants made its debut I loved the hilarity which was remarkable. But these days I also feel that it has also gone to the dogs. I find most reality shows nothing but frivolous though I watched occasionally for its silly entertainment. One night, I caught Paris Hilton's BFF and that was the last time I would ever do it again. Talk shows on the other hand are usually peeks into celebrity's lives or a dramatization of a sensational issue. Again, they can be brilliant or they can be total trash.

Documentaries are usually good only when they appeal to you. Although I love nature, supernatural and the mysterious I find the approach to the subject matters overly dramatized. I never liked naturalists or the hosts upsetting an animal's habitat just to show us how they live. Or a reenactment of an incident that biomes so unreal. Though filming quality has improved the presentation has become warped. I still like a good David Attenborough's genuine love for Mother Nature and Jacque Cousteau's love for the sea, but we don't get very many bona fide nature lovers these days.

Although I do get hooked of TV series like Desperate Housewives, which was once very good, Prison Break, Pushing Daisies, 30 rock and Supernatural I keep them under my file of entertainment and ideas to help me write better scripts. But shows like Eli Stone and Glee are inspiring to me because of the essence of the storyline and dialogues. But how long can they stay true to their creation that has yet to be seen.

So watching TV or TV series and movies is not all bad and is not all good. It's about how much of self control you have on the remote control and if you can manage your time well without getting absorbed into something that will dumb you down. If you don't have the confidence to resist, the best thing to do is to get rid of the TV and watch only shows that you want. It may take a while for you to get used to the idea of having no jarring noises coming from the TV but you can always replace that with books, journals and a whole list of things you want to do before you get dumbed down completely.

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