Sunday, September 16, 2007

For the love of television

I like the futon critic for its comprehensive listings and information on television. I modeled my TV, Eh? site partly on a low-rent, low-tech version of that site's warehouse of information. But here's why I love the futon critic ...

I mentioned before that Mr. Futon Critic himself, Brian Ford Sullivan, was listing the 10 things you need to know about the new television season. He's done now, and he used statistical analysis to prove or disprove common assertions, like that Friday is the death time slot (it is), or that networks try to kill their shows (they don't). That's enough to earn my devotion -- opinion based on data, instead of the glut of trend articles that prove nothing but how cleverly writers can pick and choose details to suit their purpose.

But his last item, #10, is "Television is the best medium out there - and most of it is free!" and it's a lovely little article on how TV consistently produces "great content in a format that really isn't conducive to creating great things. " (Sorry about the "free" part Will, but hear him out).

There are so many people on the Internet writing about television today who seem to have lost -- if they ever had -- respect and appreciation for the medium itself, who can still convey the joy of watching television excellence, and whose disappointment in badly executed failure doesn't resort to snideness about the entire medium. His closing note:
And so with the 2007-2008 season on our doorstep, there's only one of the "10 Things You Need to Know About the New Season" you really need to remember - enjoy it. Don't worry about time slots or reviews or network strategies or all the other crap that comes with being a TV fan.
Our tastes in television don't necessarily overlap -- he hated Ugly Betty, for example, though he did pick House's "Three Stories" as the best episode of television in 2005, but reading someone articulate who loves television, even if they don't love the show they're writing about, even if you do, is always pleasure.

In the same vein, but moving away from articulate critics to effusive fans ... The Best Years is attracting the most comments ever on the TV, Eh? site. These aren't the predictably banal "this show is the best show ever you have to watch it and the network is crazy if they don't renew it forever" hard-core fan ravings (coughBloodTiescough). These are young people watching and loving the show and needing to discuss it with other like-minded people. Keep in mind that TV, Eh? is not a discussion board or generally a magnet for fan discussion.

This doesn't necessarily mean anything in the grand scheme of Best Years fandom or ratings, but the show is inspiring the kind of unselfconscious passion that gives me that same warm and fuzzy feeling as the futon critic's homage to the wonder of television. And all us critics, professional and amateur, who didn't connect with the show don't matter in the slightest in the face of these fans who so obviously do. It would do us good to remember that occasionally.