Deal With It: Kid Nation and the Strange Case of the Television Oddity


As much as I love television for the way it often allows you know shows intimately and characters inside and out, as I discussed a few weeks ago, I’ve also been known to become obsessed with the television oddity. Shows that are too strange, too complicated, too expensive or too under-loved to last. These shows are on the air for a season or maybe, if they’re lucky, two and live on via DVD or Netflix or YouTube. And they also live on in memory where they often turn into something more special, more exciting, more daring than they ever were to begin with. This happened to me with My So-Called Life and Freaks and Geeks, which I’ve talked about ad nauseam, in those early days before I could re-watch them on VHS or DVD. It happened more recently with the incredibly strange, indelible and wholly unique Magic City, which I can’t bring myself to re-watch yet, the death of the show too new and my memory of it, almost surely incorrectly, too glowing. Or, even Ebert Presents: At The Movies, a show that attempted and failed at bringing back duelling film critics to TV (although I loved it), and one that I was reminded of this past week when one of the reviewers, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, published an excellent and sad take on the demise of the show. But these shows, despite their one-hit wonder and cult status in the world of TV-lovers, are not true-blue oddities in the purest sense.

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A Very Special Episode: TV Tonal Shifts on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Louie

At their best and luckiest, television shows can do something that other most other art forms cannot: allow us to spend hours, days, weeks, months, sometimes years with our favourite characters, watching them grow, learning intricacies and patterns about them and the show itself that we often don’t even know about the people in our real lives. Television has the luxury of time. We learn shows rather quickly, we fall into the unique rhythms and patterns of these shows, we know how they should look and sound and feel and over time this solidifies and crystallizes our viewing experience. We find friends with these characters, we know their worlds, we begin to understand what makes them tick.  Continue reading

Email Roundtable #25 – The Friends (but not those Friends) Edition

We are all friends here at The Golden Age of Television. We spend a fair amount of time outside of this space together. This week in a “take home” Email Roundtable we decided to discuss our favourite TV friendships.

Kerri: When I was formulating the question for this week I didn’t give an awful lot of thought to my answer. I knew that I wanted to select a friendship between two or more women but that proved really difficult. Sex and the City presents female friendship in a way that has nothing to do with my own. In fact, I think a lot of shows use friendship (and especially female friendship) improperly. Continue reading

Growing in Circles: Why Enlightened is a lot like high school


The problem with having so much good television on at the same time is that we are all bound to miss something truly special, something that seems made just for us and our personal tastes. True, we all have PVRs and television on Netflix and DVD but there are still plenty of shows that need our help to survive by watching them as they air.

I missed Enlightened while it was airing, and it seems that everyone else did too, because the show is now cancelled. But, if you have the chance to catch up with it, I promise you will not be disappointed unless you don’t like slow-moving character studies with bits of “magic realism” and poetic monologues thrown in sporadically. I suspect many people don’t so that’s why I want to tell you what Enlightened really is (and what I think many more people will care for): a high school drama in disguise. Continue reading

Email Roundtable #1 – Pilots

In honor of the start to the new Fall TV season we attempt to chat about shows we loved right from the pilot.

Kerri: I am officially opening up our roundtable discussion about shows we love from the pilot.
Who wants to start?

Katie: I don’t think there has ever been a show that I loved from the pilot. Actually, the only one that I can ever remember watching from start to finish, while it was on air, was Lost. Even when I didn’t have cable anymore, I still found a way to stream the show the next day.

That being said, I think it’s pretty hard to LOVE a show from the first time you see it. Most pilots are pretty bad. The exceptions that immediately come to mind are Treme and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Actually, Lost had an amazing pilot. I think it might have been Lost’s best episode. That plane crash was so exciting! And different from anything else I had seen on TV.

Jane: I loved Freaks and Geeks from the pilot. Looking back though, I think the fact that Kerri had really talked it up and the fact that I had a giant crush on Seth Rogen helped.

Kerri: That’s interesting, Katie. And, not to get too much into it, but you are a bit younger than me and Jane. Maybe it has something to do with the way we watch TV now. We are less excited about the start of any TV season because we know we can watch shows in full on DVD or Netflix or other less legal ways.

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