TV From Revulsion to Revolution

Posted: Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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"Hello, my name is Doug and I’m a tv-aholic."
"Hi Doug." (responds the coffee-slurping crowd through clouds of cigarette smoke.)
 
There, it feels good to finally get that off my chest and fess up to a condition I’ve had since childhood…when dad brought home our very first television set (a Caphart, black and white of course) in 1953. 
But I’m not like other TV addicts in that I won’t watch just anything. If, for example, there was nothing on but reality shows or that awful series with Jim Belushi, I could and would give it all up and read books or do something more constructive with my time.
But, you see, there are lots of other options on hundreds of channels with programs that attract my interest. And, with my digital video recorder, I can build up a library of shows then zip through any commercials or parts I find boring. I pay extra to have the Home Box Office channel on my cable system although sometimes I really wonder why.
For example, I know a lot of people who loved "Deadwood" and, while I did watch every episode, the dialogue to me was mostly a mystery; a Shakespearian play peppered with obscenities that would make Larry Flint blush.
At the urging of friends and after reading so many raving reviews of HBO’s The Wire, I decided to watch the entire 5th and final season in one night courtesy of "On Demand."
The acting was exceptional but It’s a story with few, if any, good guys. 
Most of the cops, politicians and newspaper execs depicted are two faced, crooked opportunistic slugs. 
The producers lift up the rock that is urban Baltimore and would have us be entertained by what crawls out. It may be great stuff to some but I don’t find stories about young black men killing each other over drugs and power..all to the annoyingly pulsating rythm of rap..that entertaining. 
It’s a world where the language of the street is spoken..impossible for most of us to understand without subtitles except for the ever-present and ceaseless use of the F-bomb as a noun, verb, adjective or in reference to a sick relationship with one’s mother.That’s the way the real world is, Doug. No, it isn’t. Not in my living room anyway.
Then, just when I’m about to pull the plug on HBO, along comes the series, John Adams that not only entertains but informs, enlightens and lifts the American spirit.
It stars, Paul Giamatti as Adams..a founding father and the second President of the United States.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize winning book by the brilliant David McCullough, we get a dramatically realistic look at conditions,both political and environmental, in late 18th century America leading up to and through the revolution.Laura Linney plays Abigail Adams who was her husband’s biggest supporter and severest critic during their 54 years together.
Stephen Dillane is Thomas Jefferson, Tom Wilkinson plays Ben Franklin and David Morse looks so much like George Washington you wish he’d run for president again. Imagine, a G.W. who could not tell a lie. 
There are five more episodes in the series and I can’t wait for the next one Sunday night.
It should be required viewing for all kids who find the study of American history less than exciting or inspirational.
But then you’d have to sign up for HBO where your children might accidentally tune in and hear George Carlin..who used to make me laugh..spewing messages of hate under the guise of humor.
You might have to try explain to them why that grey bearded old man is using each and every one of his formally banned expletives to lambaste everything from organized religion to the plight of hungry children around the world.
Yeah, that’s funny stuff George.

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