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The Vast Wasteland

Films, TV shows, and books of the 'modern' era

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mrsl
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The Vast Wasteland

Postby mrsl » June 29th, 2007, 10:25 am

Every now and then I refer to the title of this thread, usually in exasperation because of some new, and more stupid thing, one of the networks has announced. Due to the recent turmoil in my personal life, I have not watched much TV in the past two weeks, nor been on this computer. For this reason, I was shocked and dismayed last night to learn last nights' program was the series finale of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. After it was over, I went to the NBC site and found there has been a push to keep it on the air, but no luck. Very much the same thing which happened to The West Wing last year. The reason for the cancellation given was - Low Ratings! I've spouted this show since it's very first episode, and finally realize what bimbos the American TV viewing audience is. They totally ignore intelligent, witty, thought provoking, and current events scripts to absorb and ponder over shows that should never made it past the concept stage.

When The Sopranos, Survivor, and American Idol can remain on TV for seven to ten years, and an interview with none other than Paris Hilton draws an audience like moths to a flame, I feel true fear for my grandchildren. You may say, 'It's only TV', but it is also a sign of our times which is total stupidity, and mindless reaction, like a nation of brainless peasants with no education, or obvious intelligence quotient.

This mindset, or lack of, overflows into music, movies, and any other form of entertainment. How many comedians cannot give a stand-up show without using the 'f' word and its' versions in nearly every line? Why is a horrible presentation of one nationality given honors instead of being yanked off the air? Why do people watch a group of idiots trying to out-do each other to the point of encouraging lying, cheating, and ganging up on one person as entertainment? And how can anyone enjoy people making total fools of themselves on national TV trying to sing because somewhere in their head, they think they can, yet go in front of a known vicious man to be ridiculed to tears? Then along comes a spoiled little rich girl, who doesn't have to endure her punishment even though she has flouted our laws in our faces, and thousands of people flock to see her 'interview' with another moron who thinks he's hot stuff because he had a child after 65. The sad part is he'll be leaving that child and his money to his trophy wife who's probably counting the days until he kicks off so she can spend his money, and put the kid in military school.

I know I sound like an awful person, but I wasn't kidding when I said I fear for my grandchildren and the kind of life they're headed for. My grandparents feared for me, and they were right. Look at what my music and lyrics led to, look at the movies my generation has allowed, they prove writers have no imagination and producers expect none. Popular music is no long music but poems said in a sing-song verse to background electronically generated sounds. Worst of all, look at what my generation voted into Congress and higher up!

This stuff has been brewing in me ever since the last time I saw the Jerk on live TV at one of his press conferences.

Any comments?

Anne
Anne


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Postby movieman1957 » June 29th, 2007, 10:46 am

It seems to be a vast wasteland now more than ever.

I am frequently amazed at what people will sit through that is being pawned off as entertainment. Reality and game shows are so pervasive that I seldom come back to the networks for anything. I watch a few dramas on the networks but I spend most of my time on TCM, something I've picked out on Netflix or history documentaries. (I realize I may be the exception but, that's me.)

Sit-coms drive me bats because so often the father is played as a complete idiot. (For me "Raymond" after about the third season was king of this type.) Maybe I'm a product of my generation but nothing compares to Bob Newhart or Mary Tyler Moore or "Soap" or "Taxi" and the like for wit and originality.

On the other hand I can't blame the networks for everything. If people are going to flock to watch "Bingo" or "Deal or No Deal" who can blame them for putting them on. It's cheap and makes a fortune. You can't keep showing "ER" at $5 million an episode if no one is watching anymore.

My kids are late teens. They do watch some of what my wife and I do but some of their favorites baffle me. Mostly weird cartoons on Cartoon Network. However, they couldn't care less about Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan or any of the coverage. I'm glad about that. They like old movies and quality stuff too. At least they are not into reality shows.

Anne, I don't know what the answer is except to maybe offer alternatives. Tape wildlife documentaries or some things off of TV Land (Which is now showing movies at night.)

Vast wasteland. Considering the potential, yes.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Postby mrsl » June 29th, 2007, 12:27 pm

Movieman 1957:

I'm with you on sit-coms and Dads. I, too watch the History channel, or Discovery, and PBS when something special is on, like the Italian show recently.

Your closing quote:

_________________
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."


That, unknown to me was the quote at the top of the clock, which was Matt's nemesis in Studio 60, and was never shown in full, until last night, and I always wondered where it came from.

Of the 7 shows I used to watch regularly on network, Medium got boring, now Studio 60 is gone, and I'm left with Friday nights' schedule on Ch. 2, Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home and Numbers. I only watch Close to Home because it is the time filler, and I still find Ghost amusing - Numbers can be habit forming, and ER is on hiatus, but probably on its last season this year, and I love the tyranny on NCIS of Mark Harmon over his team.

My Sci-fi love is revealed by watching The 4400, and Dead Zone, and re-runs of Stargate. the rest of my time is divided between TCM and the Encore Western and Mystery channels.

I don't know about you, but after seeing one or two episodes of most 'reality' shows, I looked for other fare. If more people had done that, rather than returning, maybe the networks would have continued to offer more decent programming. But as I've said before, intelligent writing seems to be a lost art these days, and a marvelous duo like Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme (Studio 60 & The West Wing), are lost in the mobs of garbage floating around.

Anne
Anne


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jdb1

Postby jdb1 » June 29th, 2007, 12:47 pm

Friends, I'm afraid it's only going to get worse.

Schools are now turning out a whole generation of people with the attention spans of a garden snail, who don't know anything about literature, music or the history of their own country, let alone anything about the world beyond their front doors. Their greatest pleasure is going shopping and spending money, and their favorite pastime is gossiping.

I see it all around me at work - these are young people who are supposed to be educated, attorneys and paralegals. They think Paris Hilton is someone to be emulated; they wish they could get on a reality show to get what they perceive as their mandatory television exposure. They read nothing for pleasure but trendy magazines - not even newspapers.

They can't spell and they don't care that they can't -- that's what Spellcheck is for. They can't speak gramatically, and what's more, they all talk in that gravelly drawl - what is that all about? The first time I heard young people talking like that, I thought there must be an epidemic of strep throat going around.

They like TV comedies and dramas which celebrate materialism. They still think toilet jokes are funny. They think they are smart if they can answer questions on TV quiz shows that ask only about other TV shows and the most recent movies (calling it "American culture").

This is a problem that needs to be addressed at the most basic level, and it doesn't look like that will happen any time soon. Is it any wonder that Bill Gates and his ilk want to relax immigration policy to encourage skilled workers to come to the US? Have you seen the kids in a fast food place recently? Most of our youth today can't even manage as simple a job as that. How are they going to master the technological world into which we are rapidly developing?

Well, I did my part - I raised a daughter who is nothing like what I've described above; and I pray, for her sake and mine, that there more like her. Now I have vented my curmudgeonly spleen, and I'm sorry I can't offer a solution for what ails us. I can only patch things here and there.

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Postby movieman1957 » June 29th, 2007, 1:52 pm

Anne:

Having been a long time lover of all things Groucho I was surprised when I came across this quote that I had never heard or read before. I actually found it in a calendar where they put little sayings under each day. I've always loved the double pun in it.

I don't even begin to watch reality shows. They seem so pointless.

Judith:

Amen. No venting there, just telling the truth. I got after my daughter a few years ago about her spelling. I told her SpellCheck won't do you anygood on a job application or writing a letter to your boyfriend. If you don't learn to speak properly people won't care how smart you might be because you certainly won't sound it. Thankfully, she's doing quite well at school. She'll also watch Groucho with her old man.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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Postby sugarpuss » June 29th, 2007, 2:47 pm

mrsl wrote:Of the 7 shows I used to watch regularly on network, Medium got boring, now Studio 60 is gone, and I'm left with Friday nights' schedule on Ch. 2, Ghost Whisperer, Close to Home and Numbers. I only watch Close to Home because it is the time filler, and I still find Ghost amusing


Uh, Anne? Close to Home was cancelled. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Ghost Whisperer! I've grumbled about that show since it replaced "Joan of Arcadia". And just when it was getting good! I've watched it on and off and I have to ask, just who runs around town in their nightgowns? /end rant.

Speaking as someone who's a bit younger, I cannot stand Paris Hilton, but I am alarmed by how everyone seems to be infatuated with her. I'm disgusted with CNN for devoting their nightly programming to a total birdbrain, but yet, it gave them their highest ratings. There are "news" entertainment shows like "The Insider" that makes you feel like learning the latest and "breaking" news stories about where Tom Cruise went to lunch or that Britney Spears was spotted without a shirt on, is IMPORTANT news.

I'm not going to lie. There's one or two reality shows I watch just because they're my guilty pleasures but I'm not one for regular tv programming. The last show I found myself infatuated with was Arrested Development and that was cancelled because it wasn't totally accessible to regular tv viewers. Most tv to me seems blah and boring. Give me a great classic movie any day.

The majority of tv I watch is on TCM (I also have a love for "How It's Made" on the Discovery Science channel), but I have to admit it's frightening to be flipping through channels, settle down on some random reality show on the Bravo channel and get sucked in without even knowing it. I can't watch the reality dating shows. I'm completely embarrassed by how trashy some of the people come across. It also makes me feel like a prude because there's no way I could just whip my top off upon meeting a guy for the very first time. I think there's been a lot of lowering of values and I'm not sure if it's because the media makes people think it's okay to idolize Paris Hilton and Lohan or because it's television shows us it's fun and cool to go out, get drunk and flash the entire bar before passing out on top of some strange guy.

I also can't understand how people can watch stuff like "Deal or No Deal" (it's a guy opening a briefcase!), but then my aunt loves that show. She's also a big watcher of random reality shows, yet everytime she walks in on my mother and I watching an old movie on TCM or on dvd, she'll go, "Oh you're watching one of your old movies again! Black and white? Really?" while wrinkling her nose in distaste.

I think somewhere along the line people forgot that it's okay to think once in a while. What frightens me most about tv, media and music is that conformity seems to be the norm now. It's rare for something to be different and when something breaks out as "new and exciting", that's suddenly the new norm. Watching all these classic movies makes me feel as though I'm somehow rebelling against the standard of normal. I can think for myself and I don't need the mass media to tell me what to like and watch or listen to.

I forgot: "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?" I've never even watched it and yet, I'm shocked that a show like this even exists. It amazes me how far the networks sink, insult my intellegence and yet, it scores huge ratings every week! Insane. Just insane.

And another thing I forgot. Typing like this: How R U 2Day? Everytime I see something like this, my brain explodes. People are too lazy to even write out 2-3 letter words! Arrgh.

I think I need to go lie down now.
"Some of the best parts of life are frivolous." - Arthur Kennedy in A Summer Place
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jdb1

Postby jdb1 » June 29th, 2007, 4:00 pm

sugarpuss wrote:
I'm not going to lie. There's one or two reality shows I watch just because they're my guilty pleasures but I'm not one for regular tv programming. The last show I found myself infatuated with was Arrested Development and that was cancelled because it wasn't totally accessible to regular tv viewers. Most tv to me seems blah and boring. Give me a great classic movie any day.

I think somewhere along the line people forgot that it's okay to think once in a while. What frightens me most about tv, media and music is that conformity seems to be the norm now. It's rare for something to be different and when something breaks out as "new and exciting", that's suddenly the new norm. Watching all these classic movies makes me feel as though I'm somehow rebelling against the standard of normal. I can think for myself and I don't need the mass media to tell me what to like and watch or listen to.

I forgot: "Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?" I've never even watched it and yet, I'm shocked that a show like this even exists. It amazes me how far the networks sink, insult my intellegence and yet, it scores huge ratings every week! Insane. Just insane.

I think I need to go lie down now.


Please don't feel guilty about watching a few reality shows. Why not? They can be entertaining. The problem is the networks trying to feed us nothing but reality shows. As if we don't know that their main appeal to the producers is that they are cheaper than scripted shows.

I think the easy access to cellphones, and the brainwashing advertising that goes with it have convinced America that it must be talking, talking, talking, 24/7. You are so right - when would anyone who lives that way have any time to think? And for that matter, why are people so afraid of silence?

If you watch any sporting event on TV, you'll note that the presenters never shut up - there is not one second of silence to enable the viewer to concentrate on the game. Do I really need to be told what I'm looking at? Am I that stupid; can't I draw my own conclusions? It wasn't like that in days past. I distinctly remember being able to hear on TV the sound of the crowd, the drink and hotdog sellers, etc. as a baseball game was played. No chance now - all you hear are mind-numbing and generally irrelevant statistics being recited ad nauseum by the announcers. Please, gentlemen, shut up!

And that "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" If you think about it, it's really a provocative and challenging title (that's the idea, I suppose - to rile up some truck driver to want to beat up a schoolkid -- 'think you're smarter than me, huh???'). I think what they really mean is - do you know more than a fifth grader. Oh, the happy few who actually do.

Listen, if we were all that ignorant and anti-intellectual, how could you explain the enduring popularity of a show like "Jeopardy?"

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Postby mrsl » June 29th, 2007, 10:27 pm

I am so :lol: 2 c u agree w/me. That stinks!!! I cringed last week when I corrected my grandson (in private), that 'brang' is not a word, he should have said 'brought'. The little idiot smiled at me and laughed! "All the kids say brang, Gram." I figured there was no sense in mentioning the cliff and jumping off, he wouldn't 'GET IT'!!!

I never miss a single episode of Project Runway. I'm not talking about every reality show. I love to see the strategy and how fashion ideas form and are brought to life. Some of the designers are 'way too far out for my taste, but on the whole, many are fun to watch. Have you seen the commercial for the new 40 Kids? Forty kids in a town all their own? That is just going too far.

Yes, I want a little challenge when I watch TV. I want to be able to continue to think - Maybe like a sponge?

I realized Close to Home was gone tonight when I saw the announcement that Moonlight would follow Ghost starting in the new season.

Sugarpuss:
When did the war in Iraq take second or third place to Paris Hilton and Britney? You are so right when you bring that little tidbit to light, it makes me want to scream.

God help us if people in the work force, or stay at home moms and dad are not smarter than 5th graders! What a scary thought! I can't explain the longevity of Jeopardy except perhaps because its a daytime show and a lot of folks plan their afternoon breaks for its' time slot. A few of the people I used to work with did just that.

A few years ago, I was shopping in a small store and the electricity went out so the manager asked people to come back. I couldn't believe there were no clerks around who could add three items and multiply tax at 8%, but there wasn't! That experience is what started me thinking about the young people of today. I can't imagine how they got their jobs in the first place. I've tried to get a part time job but cannot be hired because seriously, I'm too old.

All I can say is 'Que Sera, Sera!

Anne
Anne


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Postby SSO Admins » June 30th, 2007, 4:29 am

I tend to allow myself one show at a time. Unfortunately, mine just got cancelled (Veronica Mars) so I'm currently show-less. And like most of you, I'd rather watch classic films anyway.

Still, I don't think things are quite as bad as you all think they are. There have been some good, successful, smart shows on TV. Yes, it's mixed in with a lot of reality crap, but there's a trend towards longer and more complex plot lines. There's also some good comedy -- Scrubs is a great show. If anything I think TV as a whole has improved since the era of network domination. Is there anything on today that's worse than Gilligan's Island?

And yes, I hate the "R U OK?" style of typing, and won't use it but I do understand it comes from the text messaging world, where that kind of shorthand makes sense. It also tends to really annoy adults, which makes it doubly attractive.

Paris is a sad and stupid child who was raised by parents who thought money could take the place of nurturing and affection. I really don't think she knows any better -- she has no talent, no skills, and no intelligence. Her fame fulfills a need for people who struggle with bills and mortgages, in that while she has more money than she could ever spend, just about everyone is better off than she is in terms of the things that really matter. She serves as living validation of the choices most of us make.

Still, I'm with Chris. Give me old movies and historical documentaries and I'm happy.

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Postby MissGoddess » July 10th, 2007, 3:23 pm

I only watch TCM (though even that I have to "filter" occasionally) and the odd program on public television, TV Land or American Life Network. I have never watched any of the currently most popular shows except for a moment or two, without immediately being unimpressed.* As for "Reality" shows, I have come to the conclusion that I do not like "real" people. :?

I hope you don't mind if I post a link to an article which I think really applies to this interesting thread. The writer has seen the changes in entertainment and he makes some very astute (and amusing) statements about it.

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/018173.php

*I think the last "recent" show I enjoyed was Frasier. But I didn't "love" it; I found none of the characters all that "loveable".

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Postby Vecchiolarry » July 10th, 2007, 3:36 pm

Dear Miss Goddess,

I hear you loud and clear when you say "I've come to the conclusion I don't like real people!"......

Some are just horror stories on foot & with mouth!

I'm sure you and I would have a much better time having tea with Frankenstein and Elsa Lanchester......

Larry

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Postby mrsl » July 10th, 2007, 3:55 pm

Miss goddess: thank you for that link. It was most insightful and informative. I'm always bemoaning the fact that there don't seem to be any skilled writers around anymore, now I know, they're probably out there, but unfortunately they just don't know the right people.

Being in the right place, at the right time, and knowing the right people has always been a big advantage, but apparently every now and then someone with not A-list buddies slips through the holes and gets his work looked at thank goodness. Those are the few 'good' scripts he must have been talking about.

Anne
Anne


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Postby MissGoddess » July 11th, 2007, 11:15 am

Vecchiolarry wrote:I'm sure you and I would have a much better time having tea with Frankenstein and Elsa Lanchester......

Larry


Cher, Larry:

I would be delighted to come to tea. I would even be pleased to pour. :)

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Postby pktrekgirl » July 11th, 2007, 11:15 am

Well first, I have to say I'm shocked that you could mention The Sopranos in the same breath as American Idol and Survivor.

The latter are a couple of junk-tv so-called 'reality' shows, while The Sopranos (and it's individual cast members) won multiple Emmy Awards and was critically acclaimed.

Hardly in the same league.

Yes, The Sopranos was graphic. But it was ALSO on HBO - you have to PAY to get that channel as it is a premium movie channel. It's not like The Sopranos was hogging space on network TV during prime time.

Further, The Sopranos had very short seasons - 13 episodes a year total. And further, they actually skipped one year in the middle, IIRC. So this show hardly dominated the airwaves, even on HBO. And CERTAINLY not like reality TV (along with CSI, Law & Order and their bazillion clones) dominate network television.

I happen to like The Sopranos...which, by the way, is now over and will not be coming back - the final episode was a month ago. I think it was a well written show, and certainly was NOT 'junk tv'.

As for other shows I watch, almost all of them are scifi. I recently picked up Boston Legal, and I have intermittently watched 24 and Prison Break in the past. But for the most part, I watch either classic films or scifi - most recently shows like Heros, Battlestar Galactica, The Dresden Files, The 4400, Doctor Who, Stargate-SG1 (cancelled after 10 years) and Stargate: Atlantis.

I've always been a big fan of scifi...and between that and classic film, I hardly have time for anything else.

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Postby mongoII » August 21st, 2007, 7:00 pm

"The Sopranos" was my cup of tea...er vino. I loved the show and I'm gonna miss it.
The weekly episodes were outstanding, and the performances were excellent.
My favorite characters were Paulie Walnuts and Tony's sister Janice. I was also crazy about Tony's girlfriend Gloria, and of course Adriana.
One of these days I'll invenst in the DVD series and enjoy it all over again.
Joseph Goodheart


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