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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

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» Carl Olsen watches TV! from Ramblings of a GOP Soccer Mom
At Insight Scoop, Olsen has admitted to watching TV. He lists his favorite shows, and has quite the list of comments afterwards. Some people complained that there are so many comments on a TV post while more heady and intellectual ones are prac ...... [Read More]

Comments

Jennifer

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the rumor is that Kim will be seen again on this season of 24. I know... It is hell on earth when that annoying subplot makes her appearance. At least you've been warned.

John Hetman

Be patient with yourself. After a certain age, varying with different people, you will forever turn off your television--except for the White Sox World Series games, maybe the Superbowl, and the death and election of a Pope. As well as, God forbid, a major world catastrope.

Paul H

"Alas, I stand before you in sweats and t-shirt, holding a remote bandaged with duck tape, a beer in one hand and a worn copy of TV Guide in the other."

Umm... if you have a beer in one hand and a TV Guide in the other, then how are you holding the remote? ;-)

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I read that sentence and imagined you with three hands...

Anyway, I'll admit that I watch TV too, though mostly I watch reruns of older shows. The only current show that I watch regularly is "Scrubs" -- which, by the way, is hilarious.

Mark Brumley

I didn't think he would take me seriously. Oh no. There goes our reputation.

The truth is out there (now).

Olson has boldly gone where no Ignatius Press author has gone before--into cyberprint with his TV viewing habits.

So now everyone will know that ...

Ignatius Press folks aren't always in deep meditative prayer or only working the soup kitchens or merely organizing the overthrow of the secularized establishment of the West Coast or devoting themselves wholly to training a cadre of albino killers or up at odd hours writing posts on the Insight Scoop or writing the next IP classic book. They're not only reading the zillions of mss. submitted to IP, engaging in leisurely (in the classical sense) discussions, and critiquing the Great Books. They're also--I can hardly bring myself to admit it--watching TV. And not just EWTN. (You'll have noticed that no EWTN programming appears on Mr. Olson's list.) But *network* TV. Popular TV.

Yes, some of us watch CSPAN as well as EWTN. And the Discovery Channel. No doubt on any given night there are IP folks viewing NOVA or NATURE. Somehow or other--perhaps we delude ourselves--those things don't seem as bad as network TV. They're a respectable vice.

Then, too, you might have been able to infer that atleast some of us sometimes watch TV from the large list of videos/DVDs IP distributes. Still, you'll be saying to yourself, there's a world of difference between Steve Ray's THE FOOTPRINTS OF GOD and, say, STARGATE SG-1 or COSBY SHOW reruns on Nick at Night. Not to mention LOST. (What's with that Dharma Initiative, anyway?)

Surely this revelation will be the undoing of IP. But before you all stand in judgment, you should know that there are plenty of IP people who don't watch TV. It's not everyone here. You should also ask yourself whether it isn't likely that other Catholic publishers have authors and staff members who watch TV. And probably their TV viewing habits are no better (and, if we're honest, more likely worse) than those of IP folks.

You should also acknowledge that, you, too, may occasionally watch TV. Even network TV. Go ahead. Admit it. It's the first step in coping with the problem.

CH

Carl,
Hurray for "House"!
As far as comedies go, I agree with you that the pickings are pretty slim these days. You ought to give NBC's "The Office" a shot however - Steve Corell is a genius, and even "mockumentary" super hero Christopher Guest's movies are not as consistently hilarious as this show.

Ed Peters

I like JH's comment. when we moved to anew house about 4 years ago, we did not have cable tv hooked up, and we have just never missed it since. for the pope's funeral, we went over to a friend's house and made a party of it. we do watch dvd, but broadcast tv, what a time-ravenous beast.

Domenico Bettinelli

Carl,

I would make the exact same list, except I don't watch "House" and I would add "Battlestar Galactica."

Plus "The Amazing Race." The around-the-world travel is fun and has a bit of Jules Verne in it.

Mark Brumley

Of course, as everyone knows, everything (that admits of excess) should be done in moderation. TV viewing especially.

Mark Brumley

Question: Out of the TV shows mentioned above, whether in Carl's listing or those of others posting here, which are the most philosophically intriguing and why? Which are the most theologically intriguing and why?

I'm curious if those sorts of issues have any relevance to why Catholics watch what they do.

Jules

I love Hugh Laurie, and I love House. You are forgiven, Carl. :)

Mark Brumley

Jules: Who would win in a fight, Dr. Greg House or Bertie Wooster?

Carl Olson

holding a remote bandaged with duck tape

I didn't say I was holding it with my hand. It's actually in my mouth. ;-)

A quick factoid: I cannot get EWTN here unless I purchase a satellite dish. Sad, but true.

Mark Brumley

Carl: Please enter the 21st century. EWTN is available via the Internet.

Plato's StepChild

James Schall, SJ watches some tv -- I think he admitted to sports and an occasional Discovery Channel in one of the articles he wrote. Also, Dr Thomas Hibbs is a prolific professional purveyor of popular culture.

Human nature is fallen, but not completely eliminated. Pagans read books, even bad ones, as a shadow of authentic contemplative reading and they watch tv as a shadow of authentic contemplative poetic art. Same for music.

Its corrupted, but not completely without worth. For evangelizing the culture -- sometimes -- its all we have to work with.

Carl Olson

Carl: Please enter the 21st century. EWTN is available via the Internet.

What?! And nobody told me?! ;-) Yes, I know. But when I am at my computer and working (about 1-2 hours a day, tops), I have music on. Television (no matter how edifying) and work do not mix. Unless I am actually on an EWTN program, which is another story.

Carl Olson

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but the rumor is that Kim will be seen again on this season of 24.

Noooooooooooooooooo! Kim is a real show stopper. Well, at least that's one less show to watch. Sigh.

Carl Olson

The only current show that I watch regularly is "Scrubs" -- which, by the way, is hilarious.

I forgot about "Scrubs." I used to watch it from time to time and it was quite clever and funny. Favorite sit-coms of the past include "M.A.S.H.", "News Radio," "Seinfeld", "Frasier," and, as I mention, early "Malcolm..." I'm sure there are others, but they fail to make an impression on me at this early, early hour.

Carl Olson

Question: Out of the TV shows mentioned above, whether in Carl's listing or those of others posting here, which are the most philosophically intriguing and why? Which are the most theologically intriguing and why?

For me, "Lost" raises the most interesting questions philosophically and perhaps theologically, especially relating to "fate," free will, and choice. And it does so in a very lively, entertaining fashion. "House" occasionally touches on issues relating to the meaning of life, but not as much as it could. And, again, I fear for the show because it has started leaning more and more toward the typical FOX prime-time soap opera formula and has begun to inject more casual sex, adulterous sex, and gratuitous sex into the story. Here's hoping that it stays above those dank waters.

Camille

I know how you feel Carl. I can't get it either unless I get the digital cable which I'm not willing to do, don't have a use for it.

Julie D

Homer Simpson: Television! Teacher, mother, secret lover.

Nice to see another normal out in the Catholic blogosphere. Though I put House first on the list and think you definitely need to try out "My Name is Earl." :-)

Steve Golay


All day I work with images and words. TV is neither relaxing nor stimulating. Don't ever recall failing in a conversation because I couldn't nuance it with tidbits about TV shows.

This post reminds me of those threads on NRO's Corner about Crunchy Cons, South Park Conservatives, and whatever the latest identity cocktail is now being talked to death: think it has to do with 'metro' something - whatever.

I wonder though about myself. Lately I'm even avoiding reading blogs. (The internet's equivalent to Reality TV.) Not that I got a pile of spirtual books stacked by the porch swing! Weeks go by when I don't even watch EWTN.

Forgive.

Maybe it's my age or my day's occupation. Am I loosing touch with the common man? Have I no heart for evangelism (or downright beer belly fun) because I've never seen an episode of Fox's 24?

This show, that show . . . there's no time to take it all in, to get my conversation up and sparkling. If I should try to watch this or that one, how can I handle this damning regret that I missed some human predicament epiphany in that one over there?

I almost feel the burdensome weight of being 'out of it', of not being 'with it'. Should I even show up for Thanksgiving Dinner?

Hell.

I live in the Mother Lode. I'd rather go fishing.

Carl Olson

Steve: I appreciate your comments and concerns, but the point of my post was hardly to congratulate myself for watching TV or knowing about this or that show. On the other hand, I don't think TV is the Tool of the Devil. I've spent large sections of my life not watching TV; my parents didn't have a TV in our house until I was seventeen-years old. Overall, that was probably a good thing. But while I'm all for a regular (daily!) examination of what consumes my time, fills my mind, informs my thoughts, etc., I've reached the conclusion that watching a certain amount of TV is fine. And I think that can vary from person to person; it's a matter of prudential judgment.

I'd rather go fishing.

I'd rather go snowmobiling. :-)

BloodyPapist

In re: Senor Brumley's question about philosophical interest, I am personally pretty taken with 24 that way. Mostly what crops up are questions of ethics. Is aiding and/or permitting murder ever a viable option? With the advent of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons? Can torture ever be justified?

There are also some great character questions. How does Jack's good/evil dynamic work? How removed from the common ken is his idea of personal responsibility? Won't anyone ever just punch that new president in the FACE? etc.

Tom Harmon

Alas, because of my current predicament (poor graduate student) I have neither the time to watch much TV, nor the money to afford cable. I watch only The Office with regularity. I pine away for ESPN, especially during college basketball season. Battlestar Galactica and Lost intrigue me. If I had more time and cable, I would probably watch them occasionally.

Paul H

"I forgot about 'Scrubs.' I used to watch it from time to time and it was quite clever and funny."

I agree with your original remark though that the major networks' current line-ups don't offer much in the way of good comedies. In addition to Scrubs, there is the perennial classic The Simpsons (which I *think* is still on), and I have heard good things about The Office as well. But that's about it as far as current major network comedies worth watching, in my opinion.

Contrast this with approximately twenty years ago, when one could watch four classic sitcoms back-to-back -- Cosby, Family Ties, Cheers, and Night Court -- and that was just one night on one network. The sad truth is that with the huge overdose of "reality" shows, there just isn't much room left for good comedies.

Ed Peters

My my, how many people want to express opinions about tv shows. As compared to a dozen other more imporant posts here? De gustibus, I guess.

Carl Olson

My my, how many people want to express opinions about tv shows.

And don't forget those who are expressing opinions about those expressing opinions. ;-) Ah, the tangled televisions webs we weave.

Jackson

Yes, look at the flood of enthusiasm a post about television generates, while many substantial articles here pass without comment! This speaks volumes and volumes!

"Television is the soma of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World."

--Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Jules

Mark: House would thrash poor Bertie into a quivering pulp, if the conflict took place in New Jersey. However, if it took place at the country home of the Thrupley-Gunstons, Bertie would just get chased a few circuits around the prize-winning miniature Star of India roses before darting off to hide in the stables until things cooled down.

Thomas Perry

Writers Warning: firstly, this is long, oh well, I'm verbose, read it or not as you wish, I would recomend speed reading though if I were you. Like I say, I suffer from verbosity, lots and ltos of verbosity, if you doubt me just look at this warning as proof. Secondly, this was written in a rush, so sorry. thirdly, if things seem strangly put together visually it is because I was using html tags and I'm not sure if this board is set up to interprut them, nor am I necessarily entierly sure what the tags are in all cases. Anyway, those are my warnings, please heed the frist two especially.

[i] Question: Out of the TV shows mentioned above, whether in Carl's listing or those of others posting here, which are the most philosophically intriguing and why? Which are the most theologically intriguing and why? [/i]

So this question has been answered by only one poster so far (Carl) and while I agree that Lost does have some very interesting philosophy behind it, and how the creators end the story is the subject of more debate than whether sliced bread would be a hit or not, I would like to take a moment to stand up for my own favorite show: “Battlestar Galactica.”
The new one of course not the old one. Although the old one might have had its merits philosophy, theology, and an outlet for discussion were not amongst them. Then again neither was directing, acting, or writing, so I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised. But I digress.
[i] Battlestar [/i] offers a rather unique philosophical point of view. Much like Lost we see the crew of Battlestar dealing with the question of fate, free will, destiny, and of course survival. Unlike Lost however Battlestar looks at these questions on a grander scale and then takes it one step further.
But before I go on I should explain some of Battlestar to those of you who have not seen it. The basic run down: Humans built sentient robots (called Cylons). Sentient robots built biological robots, we can refer to these as replicants, androids, cyborgs, whatever. They look like people, think like people, talk like people, smell like people, in fact they do everything like people. There are only three main differences: Cellular (their cells are artificially made) Ideological (I’ll get to this more later but they worship one god rather than many like the humans do) and . . . I’m actually not really sure where to stick this last one, it is cellular to a degree, it is also technological, but I think more than anything else it shows through as philosophical: the
Cylons can not die. Not as we see it. Their bodies can be destroyed yes, but this is not a permanent problem for them. Their memories are transmitted to a Cylon command vessel and their thoughts, minds, [i] souls? [/i] are reborn inside of those bodies, brought back smarter for the experience.
Humanity was all but wiped out in a sudden strike by the Cylons, and some 200,000 are all that is left, running constantly humans are faced at every turn with the question of survival. Just this past week the creators openly discussed a topic as hot as abortion and its impact on the fact that within 18 years the human race would be extinct at the current birth/death ratio. They had members on both sides speak out in regards to abortion, and came to a conclusion, a conclusion justified in the story no less.
What is more, other instances of the survival question: leaving a dangerous person in command of military resources, suicide, even food riots, and the black market, have been brought up in just as hard hitting and open a manner as abortion. They don’t pull any bunches or beat around the bush with these questions. It is true that they may not always come to the right conclusion, the moral conclusion, or even the just conclusion, but the creators bring the questions up and provide answers that fit within the worlds theological, philosophical, and temporal frame.
Lost does this as well, and frequently does it well, sometimes even better. But often it is not as open with the questions. Torture for example, is often looked at, but it is never really used to draw us out and make us really and truly ask the question: Is this, under these circumstances, morally, theologically, and philosophically acceptable. A perfect example comes from last weeks episode. We see Sayid preparing to torture a man, he begins by simply questioning the man and, while doing so, plays with, and lays out, the “tools of his trade.” Before Sayid really gets down to what I shall refer to as the “down and dirty part of torture” he becomes enraged and starts beating the man. Before the beating can progress to far Jack stops Sayid. Now a beating is one thing, worse still is beating a man who is helpless, and injured. But by never even giving Sayid the chance to do the “down and dirty part of torture,” the stuff we know oh-so-well from recent news reports, the creators of Lost are minimizing the philosophical debate. They are all but spelling the answer to these questions out for us. They do not flash big friendly lime green letters across the screen saying “all torture is bad,” but they do minimize the debate. No one on the island, not even Sayid who once did this for a living, is comfortable with torture. Mind you, I’m not comfortable with it either, nor do I know anyone who is, but by providing a heavily unbalanced argument (no one wants torture to be done, however a few people grudgingly admit that it must be done,) they minimize the possibility for discussion. We are never really asked the question of morality. The creators pose the question but then they answer it for us.
Now mind you, Lost does not minimize arguments frequently. “Man of Science / Man of God” is a constant struggle between Locke and Jack. Faith versus merely Surviving is another constant theme. They do bring out these question. “The 23rd Psalm” is a no holds barred look at redemption, right and wrong, salvation, and the question of faith in war torn Africa where a boy is expected to cold bloodedly murder an old man. But nevertheless, some punches are pulled, and some sides are never given a chance.
BSG, on the other hand, rarely answers the question for us. They provide answers that fit with the characters but the characters each have their own view. To go back to the abortion issue, the Admiral of the Fleet (Adama) is opposed to abortion. The Doctor of Battlestar Gallactica is for it, an entire colony of people are opposed to it on religious grounds, the president ends up being opposed to it on the grounds of survival vs. extinction, and the vice president is all for abortion. They let us see both sides and provide no definitive answer to the questions they bring to the table and that, I think, is exactly what an entertainment TV should do, they should prose the question, give arguments to both sides and let the side that has the best arguments (which we know to be the side most in keeping with the natural law, since all philosophy is based off of nature) win the day.
Now all that is only half of the question of which is more [i] intriguing [/i]. I believe that BSG currently holds a lead on more intriguing because it provides an opening for the questions and debate. Lets face it, if all the questions are on page one, and the answers on page two (admittedly upside down and jumbled) it can not be as intriguing as if only the questions are given.
But what about which has the most possibility for intrigue? Well this is a harder question to answer for one simple reason: WE don’t know what is going on the island in Lost. That alone gives Lost a lot of potential, we could argue about what the monster is day and night: far viewing, mass hallucination, maybe it is how Santa Claus knows who is naughty and w is nice. Maybe it is an aspect of God’s judgment. Who knows? The debate is very much open in that regard, and every time they answer one question they give us a new one. So in that part of intrigue Lost does very, very well indeed, by pure virtue of the fact that the show is a mystery.
BSG does not do so poorly itself. The question of belief is a constant one for BSG, and both systems (the Cylons one god versus the humans pantheon) are in constant strife. But one thing is certain between both: All this has happened before. Now, then humans do not say it in so many words, they look to prophecies and say that the founders of colonies wrote these prophecies and passed them on and that everything that is happening is destined – nay! Pre-Ordained, to happen exactly as it is happening. The Cylons, on the other hand, say all that is happening has happened before, and will happen again it is, to quote John-Baptist Emmanuel Zorg, “Part of the great circle that is life.”
Okay, so time draws short and this is getting on kinda long anyways, so I’m going to wrap it up by not providing a commentary on those two points, nor talk about the intrigue of Cylon’s having souls, Aritifcal intelligence, or the ability to reproduce with humans. Both largely speak for themselves anyways, Lost everything is a mystery, BSG religion is a mystery. Wewt, okay, done there now to the judging. It’s a tough call but I believe that Battlestar’s willingness to confront more serious and open questions, in a more serious and open debate brings it the win. Very few people in western culture see torture as good. Necessary yes, but good? Morally acceptable? That is something you are unlikely to ever see. BSG, on the other hand, brings out the question of abortion, and what’s more, doesn’t beat around the bush asking it. They say out right and open “This girl wants an abortion.” Or in a different episode “I want the Cylon’s pregnancy terminated.” It’s not a question of beating around the bush with “I think having a baby Cylon running around could be dangerous” or “the girl can’t care for a baby at this time.” It is open, and confrontational. What’s more it asks us to answer the questions for ourselves, it provides the evidence and we provide the answers. Lost doesn’t always do that.
Since both shows are, in my mind, tied for the possible intriguing topics, conversations, and story-related philosophy (I think “what is up with this island” is just as interesting as “why do the Cylons think all this ahs happened before”) we are left with merely the way each looks at possible debates, and topics of conversation. And I believe that BSG does the philosophical mindset more justice by providing both sides and leaving the rest up to us, than Lost, which sometimes fails in that regard.

MenTaLguY

Hmm, I don't actually watch broadcast TV these days, though I tape shows on occasion and/or watch them on DVD. Never bothered with cable.

Of the shows I'm currently watching which are broadcast in the US, there are Numb3rs and BSG.

Numb3rs: Two brothers, one a mathemetician, the other an FBI agent. They fight crime. _Highly_ recommended, just for the character writing and family moments alone. They do an unusually good job for TV (read: not _total_ junk) with the technical aspects of the show, too.

BSG: I'm about a season behind on this one, so I can't comment on Thomas' assessment really. So far, it's pretty good, but I wish they'd tone down the sex a bit. Also it's nice to see a sci-fi show that acknowledges religion in some form at least, but the writers seem to be having difficulty coming up with a consistent-feeling fictional theology.

Jackson

Thomas, an amazing expenditure of energy on a television show! Well done. But is something that is not worth doing worth doing well? Isn't this why, for example, it's hard for some of us to become excited about a spectacular tattoo or the latest cutting-edge developments in nose-piercing technology?

Teresa Polk

"Television (no matter how edifying) and work do not mix." (posted by Carl)

But remember that episode when House started watching TV while he was thinking? (Ofcourse that was just fiction). :-)

I never watch lawyer shows on TV. Do you, Ed?

Mark Brumley

Interesting comments. Few takers on my questions, but still interesting comments.

More to come.

Carl Olson

If I had to find a common theme that shows up in the shows I mention — especially "Lost" and "House" — it is redemption. In "Lost" this often involves attempts by characters in their pre-island life to "make good" in the eyes of their fathers, while often failing in the process. Some of the characters (Sawyer, Kate) seem convinced that they are lost emotionally to those they wish to be accepted by/loved by, and so have made an uneasy peace with being physically lost. Others, like Jack and Charlie, hold on to forms of hope that aren't very substantive or clear. And other characters, notably Mr. Eko and Locke, see the island as a second chance and as a place of spiritual renewal. But while Eko (following time as a crime lord) has embraced Christianity as his source of strength, Locke has embraced the island itself as a source of knowledge. In a way, the former represents orthodoxy (openly expressing his belief that he now a "priest") while the latter holds to a type of gnosticism (obsessed with the computer/numbers in the mysterious hatch).

There are times when "Lost" reminds me of snippets of stories by Walker Percy and Flannery O'Connor. There is an apocalyptic quality to the show that has a similar feel to that found in Percy's Love In the Ruins and Thanatos Syndrome, albeit without Percy's very dry, cutting humor. The Others remind me of the sort of backwoods freaks that appear in some of O'Connors stories and also seem to represent a similar, primitive challenge to the fragile world of the survivors. In any case, I do hope the show continues to focus as much or more on the mystery of humanity as it does on the mystery of the island.

Shifting gears, one reason television dramas hold so much interest for people is that they constitute stories common to a larger group, addressing themes, difficulties, and struggles that people can often relate to. Every culture has such stories, even if they are simple or lacking. In a world, those stories would come to the larger culture through the great books, plays, and poetry of the (mostly) Western tradition. Alas, most people don't read such things. So, do we read those great books and ignore popular culture? There are many appealing aspects to such a position, and there are days when I think it's the way to go. Or, do we read the great books and know the great stories, but also find the best stories being created in the larger, popular culture and see what we can learn about our neighbors, co-workers, and friends through them? I think such an approach has merit. I recognize that many think is silliness. Perhaps. I'm not convinced, even though I've read Postman and others, and appreciate many of their points and arguments. Yes, television is a unique medium, and does not transmit story and narrative as books do. Again, I'm far from convinced that this fact makes television something to be completely avoided. But it is an important discussion and one that I hope we continue to have from time to time on this blog.

Plato's Stepchild

"My my, how many people want to express opinions about tv shows."

Dr. Peters,

Do you remember what Evelyn Waugh said about the importance of movies to a novelist? I think the same applies to some of the better dramas on tv.

Plato's Stepchild

"Again, I'm far from convinced that this fact makes television something to be completely avoided."

Dr Peter Kreeft, in one of his audio lectures, mentioned how vehement Plato and Augustine were in denouncing the theatre. He was hinting that it was not necessarily an Aristotelian point of view.

Jackson

I'm glad that you mention Plato. For the past several weeks, I've been living in the wonderful land of his Republic (Allen Bloom translation, highly recommended). Now that's my kind of city. No nonsense tolerated at all. Of course, none of the drivel mentioned in this thread would be allowed in it, as it's all distraction from contemplation of true reality. Look at all the time and energy invested in this distraction! I can't tell you how disturbing it is to run around the neighborhood at night and see the ominous blue glow of the television coming out of every house window. What a great deal of pain this world is seeking to avoid. Anything to prevent us from confronting ourselves. By the way, I also recommend The Teaching Company's excellent lectures on this book.

"Television is the soma of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World."

--Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death

Teresa Polk

Interesting, Plato's Stepchild and Jackson.

After mentioning "Aristotle's defense of art against the searching criticism of his master, Plato", Milton C. Nahm wrote, in his introduction to Aristotle's "On the Art of Poetry":

"In art, as in acting, the rules of practice hold 'only for the most part' and govern objects which may be 'otherwise'. Aristotle makes a fundamental distinction in drawing the great divisions of his philosophy, and he clearly recognizes that we must be content with the standards of correctness appropriate to the subject under consideration."

"Fear and pity may be aroused by means of the Spectacle: but they may also result from the inner structure of the piece, which is the better way and indicates a superior poet [or screenplay writer, in our day]." - Aristotle, "On the Art of Poetry."

Interesting that Jackson and I so much disagreed on the topic of the value of television on a previous post, now to find that he has been reading Plato while I have been recently looking at Aristotle and those who have preferred Aristotle.

So I would say that in television, we must be content with what is appropriate to television and to the subject matter with which it deals; and that fear and pity may be aroused by even a relatively shallow show and may still serve a cathartic purpose for the viewer; but the better shows (such as House if it does not give in to the Fox fiction Spectacle temptations mentioned above) are superior partly because they reach us through the inner structure of the writing and performance, and not by a merely shallow appeal to sensation.

Very interesting indeed.

Plato's Stepchild

"I can't tell you how disturbing it is to run around the neighborhood at night and see the ominous blue glow of the television coming out of every house window"

I believe that Walker Percy had interesting things to say about television. I've seen the Teaching Company's products but prefer the lectures by Fr Joseph Koterski, SJ on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and The Natural Law.

I qyote from Sister Miriam Joseph's Trivium in the section on reading and composition:

"Poetic is argument through vivid representation."
...
"It is more moving than philosophy because the universal is realized intensely in the individual portrayed, and the appeal is to the whole person: to the imagination, feelings, and the intellect, not the intellect alone."

Mark Brumley

It seems that TV is a medium that can generate passive imbibing of nonsense or active viewing, thoughtful consideration, and substantive discussion. Much like film.

By its nature, TV tends to create passivity in the viewer, and people, being fallen, will often go with the downward flow to become certifiable couch potatoes. But some souls will through effort and grace make better use of the opportunities afforded by such a powerful medium as TV. It seems that many people on this blog have done just that. Kudos.

Tom

Does anyone know when the 2nd Season DVD set for "Lost" becomes available?

Mark Brumley

Not I. My 20-year old son probably does, but I haven't a clue. On that subject, I'm LOST.

Btw, those who are interested in getting LOST can watch the pilot, which is being repeated tonight. Those whose TVs may be impaired from receiving even broadcast network TV can download episodes of LOST at itunes.

Jeff Grace

Well, Ok... I watched the pilot tonight and can see the appeal. I will probably try and watch more, even if it's not as fun as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig... er... at least that's what I've heard...

Sandra Miesel

LOST is the only network entertainment TV show we watch. Thursday mornings see a great flurry of e-mails among family members analyzing the previous night's show. Carl has explained its appeal so well I have nothing to add.

But Carl and I will miss an episode to be on EWTN! Such a sacrifice, even in these days of taping! And then I miss the following week to speak to Legatus members in Detroit! More sacrifice!

Presumably the DVD set of LOST 2 will come out in the summer, as last year.

Mark Brumley

Sandra: Now you've done it. You have piqued our interest in your commentary on LOST. I don't believe you have nothing to add about LOST. Please share with the group.

Carl Olson

Sandra knows far, far more about the ins-and-outs of "Lost" than I do, including the many obscure references to numbers and religious symbolism. Besides, she's actually published short stories and a novel, so has a proven sense of what it takes to create a fictional narrative.

Ed Peters

PLATO: no, what did Waugh say?
THERESA: I used to watch L&O, when we had cable, if i had nothing else to do, but I haven't missed it for a second since...The cost-benefit ratio for broadcast tv is just way way too poor. And, as I say, I watch a lot of movies on DVD, so it's not like I think the box is possessed or anything.

Sean Gallagher

He had been running me around the Bay area for a couple of days and was tiring of my endless quips, rants, and loud renditions of Blue Oyster Cult songs ("Don't fear the reaaaaaaper...").

So Carl, was Mark tiring of your rendition of "Don't fear the reaper" because you were banging a cow bell while doing it?

(If you're as into TV as you say you are, you'll get the reference.)

Mark Brumley

Sean: He needed more cow bell, not less.

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