Thursday, January 21, 2010
Decade in Review Part II: Television
TV Show of the Decade: Battlestar Galactica
I've written so much about this show, and sort of frightened people in praising it the best hour-long TV show ever made. Aside from how I feel about the transcendent and meta-textual brilliance of the show, no other show made us look at ourselves in this decade as much as BSG. In the tradition of Rod Serling, who often dealt with civil rights issues masked in his Twilight Zone, this was the first show to deal directly with a post 9/11 way of life and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, this was a show that was full of shadows and types, perhaps too much of a foundational myth for many sci-fi fans who didn't like the show's ambiguous in-show history. And it was most importantly, the reason so many people who didn't know they liked sci-fi watched it, was that this was a human show, with some of the finest and most flawed characters in television history. It's final brilliance, the presumption that these flawed people can not only be divinely inspired but divine themselves, drove the sci-fi fan-boys crazy, and made for a beautiful tale of redemption of hope in the most utterly awful of circumstances. For the sci part, read Frank J. Tipler's work. He essentially outlined how resurrection technology was possible all the way back in 1994.
What you (the readers) said: Lost
Network of the decade: Comedy Central
If I can cite one reason I was able to remain sane during the Bush administration it was Comedy Central; namely the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. But no network provided such consistently provocative programing as Comedy central from South Park, which got better with each passing year, to Chappelle's show, a hugely important work of television, to the short-lived but hillarious Chocolate News, Comedy Central took chances. Somehow the channel that fills their day with d-grade teen comedies and re-runs of Mad TV from 1997 reached a level of nearly un-matched gravitas.
You said: Adult Swim
TV Personality (host, creator, actor, a real person)of the decade: Jon Stewart
For better or worse Jon is my generation's Walter Cronkite, Edward R. Morrow, Will Rogers, and at times even Howard Beale. All rolled into a diminutive asthmatic c-list actor, who took over a cult show watched mainly by frat boys, and made it the destination for Presidential candidates, and became one of the most influential, and trusted voices in America. He broke the news; in the sense that he was able to highlight the ridiculousness of the 24/hr news culture, our absurd fascinations with the unimportant, while highlighting the stories that you couldn't really find anywhere else.
You Said: Stephen Colbert
TV Character (fictional) of the decade: Gaius Baltar, Battlestar Galactica
Essentially responsible for the destruction of humanity, Baltar was, by what seemed like divine providence, spared the nuclear holocaust and found himself on the Galactica. Over the course of the series he provided some of much-needed humor, was the most hated man in the universe during his brief but ineffectual presidency, became something of a martyr and a prophet. His transformation was so believable, so delicately drawn out, that while I was teary eyed for most of the last 20 minutes of the finale, his final line was when I lost it. If humanity in this decade was in one person, you'd be hard pressed to find someone more fitting than Gaius Baltar.
You Said: Stephen Colbert (I do have clever readers)
TV moment: Jon Stewart on Crossfire (2004)
A hugely important moment in media discourse in this country. Crossfire was canceled the following year, CNN saying: "I think he made a good point about the noise level of these types of shows, which does nothing to illuminate the issues of the day."
Runner-up (and who am I kidding this is the best/worst tv moment ever): Flavor of Love reaches an all-time low
Even crazier is she lasted a few more weeks on the show.
You said: Kanye interrupts the VMA's
TV show/event you will associate most with the decade: American Idol
You said: Lost
TV show that most represents the demise of our civilization: Living Lohan
You said: Any of MTV's reality shows
TV Theme song of the dec: Lost
Ok, maybe its a cheat, but it really does set the mood.
You said: The OC
Most annoying trend in TV: MTV 's "Reality" and "reality" game Shows
I just took this at random:
You Said: MTV showing reality Shows
Guilty pleasure: Degrassi (The N, now Teenick)
Above: from all the way back in '01
A Canadian teen issue-based drama where they kids actually are kids and not 30 year old's pretending to be in High School. It went and continues to go there.
You said: The OC
Cancellation outrage of the decade: Arrested Development
You said: Arrested Development, a close runner-up Firefly
Commercial of the decade: the Silver Bullet runner up: Head-On
You could take my word for it, that The Silver Bullet is The Citizen Kane of infomercials, or watch it yourself.
Head-on broke new ground in the annoying department. Though I miss the old one, somehow the newer ones where it gets interrupted; I find even more annyoing.
You Said: Wassup guys