Monday, February 25, 2013

The Joy of TV

Anyone who thinks I'm some sort of high falutin' intellectual doesn't really know me. Sure, I'm an elitist snob about a lot of shit, but I'm as shlubby about some things as anyone...especially when it comes to television.

As a child I didn't watch a lot of television...except when I did. My family never had "cable TV" when I was growing up which means (in the 70s and 80s) that we were limited to a grand total of five channels (which eventually increased to six with the advent of FOX). And my parents didn't allow a lot of television watching, even on the weekends. Now, during the summer when we kids were older (and left at home alone while the parents were both at work) the "TV gloves" came off and my brother and I would spend long hours catching up on the daytime TV watching...namely, old shows in syndication (many of which were black and Perry Mason, the Beaver, My Favorite Martian, and Have Gun Will Travel...and all of which, even the color shows, had originally aired before we were born).

[well, those days of innocence are long gone, I'm afraid. When my child grows to an age where he knows how to use a remote control with impunity, I suppose I'll have to figure out how to lock the damn TV completely. Not just to keep him from watching violent shows and "Rated R" movies, but even daytime talk show hosts that are just...O Lord...just terrible and filled with the worst dregs society can dredge up. Maybe I just need to smash the cable box while I still have a chance!]

Anyhoo, while I got by in my early adulthood (till about age 26 or so) without actually owning a television, my lovely wife has turned me into a pretty serious TV watcher. Seeing as how we don't share any other hobbies (besides an enjoyment of other cultures when we can find the time and income to travel), it's the only relaxing pastime we can really share. Which is pretty f'ing sorry if you ask me (she's tried to play RPGs, she has, but I think that they scare her a little bit, to be quite honest), but there it is.

So I do watch a lot of TV...much more than I did in my 20s, or even my youth...and I even have shows that I like to watch that the wife doesn't. What I'd call "guilty pleasures," like Arrow, which is really not my wife's style at all. Usually, I watch it after she's already fallen asleep (On Demand)...but since I've discovered it I haven't missed a single episode. I just watched an episode and a half tonight.

But there are guilty pleasures, and then there are REAL guilty pleasures. The last couple weeks, I've started checking out this show called Supernatural that airs right after Arrow (and to which I got hipped by the trailers on the other show). Whereas I know the gist of Arrow (having been a Green Arrow fan) and have seen almost every episode (enough so that I can follow its convoluted, if somewhat simplistic plot), after three weeks I still really have no idea what Supernatural is about. There are two guys who are brothers or cousins or something that go around kind of investigating or hunting supernatural types (kind of like that show Grimm or something...I don't know), usually involving some sort of magic? in our present day and age. Maybe they're some kind of 21st century witch hunters or something? Except that they're kind of clueless half the time.

I really don't know...and I really don't care enough to bother finding out (by watching earlier shows On Demand or even reading the wikipedia entry on the show). I mean, it's not what I'd call "quality television" and it's not based on a particular IP in which I'm especially vested (like Arrow). I just refuse to waste that much time on it...but I've still been tuning in and checking it out. Why? Because...well, I don't know if I'm the real target audience for the show, but if I was a television writer, this is pretty much the show I would write.

I mean, it just seems to include a lot of the same quirky fantasy things I've been interested in, and it treats them in much the same way as I'd probably treat them, and it uses pretty much the same style of humor that I would use. Now a show like Psych (which I used to watch a bit and which I still think is damn funny) is right in my wheelhouse as far as hitting all the right notes and referencing all the same experiences and pop culture references I grew up with; i.e. I am the target audience of that show. But that's NOT the kind of television I would be writing myself. I'm not really clever enough, nor so interested in my own pop culture history that I'd put in the time and effort to write such clever scripts.

Supernatural isn't nearly as clever, but it's got clever enough bits...and the kind that I would think of adding if I was writing for TV...that it makes me feel like...well, I don't know really. A bit like I'm watching something I produced, maybe.

Anyway, it reminds me of a game I was working on awhile back (like last year)...a period game about witches and witchcraft set in the 1980s. It was a real, non-politically correct kind of game...basically one in which witches were fighting an underground battle against the evil forces of Reagan-era Republicans (yeah, it was really non-politically correct). It was also much more "indie" than anything else I've worked on in about five years (with the exception perhaps of DMI) being much more story-centric and much less B/X-style in crunch and mechanic. But as with many game projects, its currently gathering dust on a zip drive somewhere...and with TV shows like Supernatural, I don't really feel the need to dust it off anytime soon. It's like sometimes I think games like Trail of Cthulhu and The Esoterrorists have been created specifically because The X-Files is no longer airing on TV. I know that's a pretty random thought, but that's what I've been reflecting on this evening.

All right, all right...enough of this nonsense. Time to hit the hay...another busy day tomorrow.


  1. I haven't watched the last couple seasons of Supernatural, because I missed some seasons, tuned in to an episode or two, and decided it had "lost" something. But the first several seasons were pretty good. It's two brothers following in their dad's footsteps as ghost and monster hunters, although ghosts were the most common danger. Sort of a working-class Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

  2. Supernatural is also one of my own guilty pleasures, and it has inspired a lot of ideas for some future DnD campaign I have yet to run. I especially like their portrayal of Angels, pure Lawful and powerful.

    I got hooked because (the early episodes at least) had true creepy and scary moments. The show seemed to transition more towards its own meta-plot after a while, leaving less and less such moments it seemed. Thankfully I really dig its main plotline.

  3. Supernatural is worth watching, at the least the 1st 6 seasons are, after that it pretty much jumped the shark big time.

  4. My daughter, now 20, got us watching Supernatural during the first few seasons. There is a Supernatural RPG, which uses the Cortex system. It is actually quite good. It is based on the first few seasons, so the focus is on monster hunting and urban myths.

  5. @ All: Wow...I cannot believe the shows been on that long...I had honestly never heard of it before I started watching Arrow.

    @ Ken: Thanks for the heads up...I'll take a look for it the next time I"m over at Gary's (probably this morning...). When you say it's quite good, does that mean you've played it? I'm not familiar with Cortex.