“I’ve been telling everyone who’ll listen how great Downton Abbey is,” I said in a sermon that was technically about evangelism. I was illustrating St. Augustine’s point that when people love, say, a great actor they tell others about him—and so how much more should we tell others about the gospel. A week later I learned how (un)successful that point had been. “I’ve watched every episode,” a parishioner said. “Now what was it you were trying to say about that show?”
I've never liked show choir, but I love Glee. Not primarily for the singing or dancing, though each is sometimes great. I like the show because it gets a lot right about being a teenager—the weird mix of intense emotion and casual pettiness, the hairpin turns of identity creation in process—without getting bogged down by studious realism.
The 1950s and 1960s are often cited as the golden age of television. Those were the days when comedians such as Groucho Marx and writers such as Rod Serling worked in the business. That era produced many programs that still bear rewatching (The Dick Van Dyke Show, for one, and I say this not just because I had a boyhood crush on Mary Tyler Moore).
Earlier this year the Fox network, showing either the effects of the writers’ strike or the signs of social decay, offered a gem of televised exploitation—the kind that repulses you but you can’t help watching.
When people ask me why I do not watch television, I usually begin with the practical answer. I live nine miles from town, at the end of a dirt road, where cable is not available. Why don’t I get a satellite dish?
A new television season always begins in autumn, which is really a shame. Television needs a spring start, with buds bursting, grass growing greener, and trees coming alive. But the television producers rely on the waning daylight and bleaker weather to drive people indoors to their television sets. This year's premiers have been depressingly familiar—full of noise and empty humor.