by Susan Sey
I avoid TV. It's not because I have anything against it, though. I don't. In fact, I love TV. I love it the way I love ice cream. The way I love Diet Coke. The way I love books.
I love TV quite a lot.
In fact, when TV lives up to its potential, I am powerless to stop myself. I am an addict, & this is why I avoid it. In real time, anyway. DVDS are another story.
When the Sopranos ended its run to such acclaim a few years ago I thought, "Okay, time to see what all the fuss was about." Blockbuster.com sent me the first season on DVD over the Fourth of July. By Labor Day my husband & I (he's as bad as I am) had pounded through all eight seasons. I'll leave you to do the math but the number of hours we spent parked in front of the TV during those few weeks is cringe-worthy. We were lucky nobody staged an intervention. Especially since it wasn't the first time we'd behaved in such a fashion.
Lost did it to us, too. That pilot episode when the plane first crashed? Yowza. And five, six seasons later, bad guy Ben just keeps the passive-aggressive fun coming. Good times.
I mourned when we finished the last DVD of Arrested Development. In addition to the razor-sharp humor (a character with sexual identity issues inadvertantly bills himself as an "analrapist" on his business cards, a combination analyst & therapist), it also provided me with my first opportunity in a number of years to remark upon how darn cute that Jason Bateman was.
The Office (the British original) introduced me to a brand of cringing comedy that was so excruciatingly honest I didn't know for a solid three DVDs if I liked it or not. Turns out I do. (The American version introduced me to John Krasinski, on whom I instantly developed a minor crush. I still like the British version better, though. Ricky Gervais is incredibly talented.)
And now we're addicted to a new one--The Wire, a cop show set in Baltimore's west side. The writing is again razor sharp & the dialogue rings incredibly true. But there was one episode in the first season--one scene actually--that sealed the deal for me. It's a scene in which Detective Jimmy McNulty & his partner Bunk revisit a crime scene to role play a murder. They say nothing but the f-word for about four solid minutes, each time with a different intonation & a different meaning. By the end of the scene they'd drawn a completely new conclusion about the crime & so had the audience--through nothing but about four minutes of the f-bomb.
I don't know if that's quality writing or acting, or maybe both, but I was totally sold. We watched Season One in five days.
We start Season Two tonight.
How about you? For your money, what's the best TV show on the air right now? Off the air? Who's telling the best story these days? I'd love to know because, at the rate we're eating up The Wire, we're going to need a new addiction one of these days pretty soon.