Thursday, September 10, 2009

Television saved my life

Though I've always been partial to television, its tendency to consume my evenings whole meant that I've kept my distance from it these last few years. I also don't have cable, which definitely helps with this. (Further, I hate commericals, which is why I love Midsomer Murders on TV Ontario, also because MM is the best show ever.)

But this summer, it's true that television saved my life. First, when a friend lent us her Series 1 and 2 DVDs of 30 Rock in late June, and though we'd have to turn it up loud to be heard over the baby's screaming, each episode provided us with a little bit of lightness every evening. And though I went into the show with Liz Lemon's character appealing to me most, I was surprised to find that Tracy Jordan became my favourite. In every episode, he'd utter a line that would completely surprise me, and turn my idea of who he was inside out. His complete lack of conformity (to anything) made him always fresh and interesting, bizarre and hysterical. ThoughI do continue to worship at the alter of Tina Fey. (Naturally. I'm a girl with glasses).

The other show I've watched, and the one I appreciated the most, however, is CBC's Being Erica. Which does appeal by its Toronto location (and Jessica Westhead reference-- see Pulpy & Midge behind Erica's desk. This is one bookish show). I'd almost given up on liking Canadian television, as every show I tried to watch was usually terrible, but I had heard good things about this one, and the series was being rerun for the summer. (I also liked that I could watch it online whenever I wanted.) It's a show with a gimmick (girl goes back in time to learn lessons from her past), but the gimmick was never the point for me.

For me, the part of the hook was half-decent acting from most of the cast. (Most of the cast-- some do act like actors on Canadian TV series, but this is a Canadian TV series after all.) A really wonderful soundtrack that catered to my nostalgic side whenever Erica went back to high school. And pretty fantastic writing that veered towards the unexpected. (I also liked it when Erica enquired whether her going back in time to change the past would disrupt the space-time continuum, as you do, and he informed her that her overall impact on the universe was not quite that extensive.)

I put Erica to the test in a recent episode, where Erica is at the movies with her pregnant friend. Friend has to go to the bathroom, but can't get out from her seat, and just before the show breaks for commercial, water splooshes all over the floor. "If she's wet her pants instead of having her water break, therefore defying all television convention," I said, "then this is the best show ever". (It was a water splooshing all over the floor moment that had me sure I was never again going to watch Sophie, a previous Canadian show I'd tried to like). And back from commerical, Erica won!

Now, full disclosure, Judith's water did go sploosh later in the 'sode, but I'm still giving credit. This show isn't perfect, but it's a million times better than most of the other stuff on TV. It's immensely entertaining, and I look forward to Season Two in a couple of weeks.