|Jinny is having minor surgery to improve her eyesight so I will be writing her article for the next 4-6 weeks. We both appreciate your patience and are confident that she will be back writing her article soon...Adele
There are lots of bad and disheartening things in the news recently. From the price of oil to unrest in many lands, the news is not good. If you are a devoted or addicted TV watcher it ain't so grand either. Writers for television and movies are on strike. Evidently, they believe that they are not treated fairly when it comes to DVD and New Media royalties and refuse to write another word until their demands are met. Whether you agree with them or not, there is one thing that is clear; no writers equals no television shows or movies.
Let's face it, writers are harder to replace than just about anyone involved in the production of TV shows and movies. Starving actors are legion, fairly competent camera and sound people can probably be found in various college film departments, and I know numerous clever computer savvy young people who could probably manage to pull off basic special effects. Writers, on the other hand (good or bad), don't just grow on trees.
The most immediate programming, like late night talk shows and such, have already gone to reruns. Anyone who clung to the belief that talk show hosts write their own material must be feeling betrayed right now. The weekly shows are also beginning to shut down production one by one as they run out of scripts. We won't notice this right away, but come December or January our favorite shows will be missing in action since those shows would be filming now or in the near future.
I listened to a report on Public Radio about the situation and insiders and commentators were doing a lot of speculating about what will happen when the networks run out of shows. The general consensus was that reruns would abound, as would movies we have all seen at least a dozen times. Some cable channels will profit from the strike since most documentaries and similar programming are completed far in advance of their air date. Otherwise, things are looking a little grim for devoted fans of network programs.
One commentator strong advised the viewing public to not cancel any DVD rental outfits to which they might belong, and suggested that anyone who doesn't belong to one should sign up immediately. He said this with all the seriousness of someone planning for a forecasted blizzard or hurricane or swarm of locusts or something. I was about to turn the radio off in mild disgust when things got interesting.
The commentators began to discuss old television shows that are now available on DVD that we may have really loved, missed, or forgotten about. Some of the shows they mentioned were ones I remember enjoying a lot. One they mentioned as being a great underrated comedy was F Troop. Now, you have to be "a certain age" to remember that show, but it was a hoot, if I recall. Very low-tech by modern standards, of course; all of it shot on a sound stage with painted backdrops and cheesy props, but the actors had great comic timing and the characters
and dialogue were wonderful (oh, those indispensable writers). I'd watch F Troop again.
They listed quite a few comedies, The Carol Burnett Show, Get Smart, the original Saturday Night Live, and a host of others. They also suggested various adventure and drama series - do you remember 12 O'Clock High? How about The Man From Uncle? They went on to mention St. Elsewhere, Secret Agent Man, and numerous other offerings from here, Great Britain, and Canada, like Due South, a charming little show I adored with excellent writing and marvelous characters, one of whom was a gorgeous Canadian actor who played a Mounty. One gentleman suggested that it might be a good time to rent episodes of those shows you watched but never really understood, like Twin Peaks, The Prisoner, or the X-Files. He felt that viewing them on DVD one right after the other might help with the confusion we may have felt when we watched them once a week during their original run. Personally, I don't hold out a lot of hope that watching every episode of The Prisoner one after the other will bring me any closer to understanding it. I don't care, I really liked that show.
All this talk of old TV shows got me to thinking. Back in the day when most of these shows were being aired, you weren't allowed to use foul language, make endless jokes about bodily functions, show people's naked buttocks, or have seemingly unending conversations about sex and drugs. It just wasn't done. But I remember laughing and crying and being thrilled and enthralled anyway. Characters in dramas were less angst-ridden and disturbed, comedians were required to have exquisite timing and funny dialogue. We didn't really pay attention to the cheesy sets or cheap props. It's kind of like watching an opera where the heroine who is supposed to be dying of consumption looks way too well fed and robust to be mildly ill, much less dying of some wasting disease. It doesn't really matter, because the music is powerful and evocative and the not-so-frail looking heroine has the voice of an angel. It's amazing how real art and real talent overshadow all else, so that even the unbelievable can be believed and the frou-frou and bells and whistles just don't matter much. Maybe some of those Hollywood writers should spend their time off during the strike working on developing their craft. It couldn't hurt.