Tuesday, May 26, 2009

TV perspective

"This guy's so cheesy I can't watch him without crackers."
—Leilaina, Reality Bites

"When we get back to civilization, I'm joining women's lib."
—Holly, Land of the Lost

So to capitalize on the Will Ferrell movie version of Land of the Lost coming out soon, Sci Fi Channel played Land of the Lost, the series yesterday. All. Day. Yesterday. At a half hour per ep, they managed to plow through the entire collection I think, stretching it into the wee hours of the morning, which I know because I went to drift/sleep around 10:30 p.m. and found myself still flipping around at close to 1 a.m. Love when that happens. Really wish my brain had an off switch, because it seems to do that mainly on Sunday nights. Great way to start the week.

I bitch quite a bit about children's TV and I abhor the way my niece is being raised on the box. But I have to say, we've come a long way. A seriously long way. I remember Land of the Lost as being a rather vicarious thrill...the combination of adventure and fear was a guilty pleasure on Saturday mornings while my parents attempted to sleep a bit longer than Cyril and I. We'd catch all those Sid & Marty Krofft shows...I enjoyed Wonderbug, Cyril liked Dr. Shrinker, and we both laughed our way through Sigmund the Sea Monster.

So I'm watching it yesterday, in between chores and naps, and the old thrill was there...still wanted to cover my eyes whenever the Sleestaks were on the scene. But holy crap, could it get any more cheesy!?! Poorly constructed sets and models and 30-year-old blue-screen technology, on top of bad acting and choppy direction...I couldn't keep it on for too long at any one time, which at my age I suppose is a good thing. But I was struck by the difference between what I remember and what the show was. There was the occasional decent lesson, and probably it was presented basically enough for it to sink into my 5-8 year old brain. I get that they certainly weren't making that show for a 39-year old. But holy cow, it was bad. Back then, the choices were significantly limited...we had 5 channels that evolved into cable pretty fast when we lived in New Milford, but you were still only talking about what? maybe 50 channels? And certainly the only kids' fare was still PBS, with the exception being Saturday mornings.

So I rail against poor kids' programming because with so many more choices now, shouldn't there be more accountability? There certainly is now, to a point; quite a few channels have taken their cues from Sesame Street and PBS...you can find really good stuff on Sprout and Noggin now. But why should it be that way for kids' shows, when we can't manage it for adults? I direct your attention to the garbage that is any reality show currently taking up space on our airwaves (I am SO tired of hearing about Jon & Kate Plus 8...I mean, seriously, who's raising those kids while the parents are off not having affairs?), as well as "game shows" like the just-in-time-for-summer Wipeout on ABC. It blows my mind, the idiocy that gets on the tube.

So the key is adults giving a crap about what their kids watch. If you're going to use the electronic babysitter, at least have the decency to keep the remote out of reach. Parental controls on TVs...that stuff bugs me too, that mindset of "here, honey, watch whatever you want because I know we've locked Cinemax..." Better yet, take 'em outside. I know I haven't got a soapbox to stand on until I'm wrangling my own small ones, but I pray that my beliefs translate into the level of parenting I imagine for my children.

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