Sunday, April 06, 2008

The One Where Kirsty Talks About What She Watches On TV

I've just finished watching the first season of Medium on DVD. I've watched it before--when it was broadcast on free-to-air here in Australia--but I've had to watch it again because I'm writing an assignment on it for an Advanced Study Option I have to do as part of my PhD.

This so-called Option arises out of the Charlotte Brunsdon Master Class I attended at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies. You could just attend the Master Class and be done with it, as much as one can be done with a rewarding and valuable learning experience, but since it is a requirement of my degree that I complete two Advanced Study Options, then creating one on the coat-tails of a visiting international scholar in my field is certainly a better offer, as far as these Options go, than having to do one in an obliquely related field such as film or literature (not that there's anything wrong with film or literature, it's just that people studying those seem to have more Options from which to choose).

Oh, I sound so cynical, but really I'm not. I'm looking forward to writing a contained piece amidst the amorphous experience of the PhD dissertation.

I've quite enjoyed the repeat performance of the first season of Medium, viewing it through the discussion that came up in the Master Class, especially in relation to television crime shows: the discourse of equity that has permeated programs since Juliet Bravo and Hill Street Blues and the question identified by Brunsdon as central to the anxieties worked out in this sub-genre of drama, 'Who can police'?

I have much more to say about this project--I do find all of these questions enormously interesting--but this post is supposed to be, as the Friends rip-off title suggests, about what I've been watching on television, as a way of easing you into the forthcoming 'episodes' of this television six-pack that I promised to write over a month ago now. Yes, you may have thought I'd forgotten about that, but really I was just doing what I do best, which is procrastinating.

So, I did start writing this post before and I didn't get much further than a rather dreary explanation of how the programs that are listed in the side-bar over there on the right are only a partial documentation of what I watch on television. I went on about the omission of the odd news and current affairs programs, as well as the difficulty of indicating any one-off documentaries I might watch.

To continue in a similarly dreary vein: there are the shows that are listed there that I have every intention of watching, but somehow end up missing. Spicks and Specks is in that category at the moment, as is The Cook and the Chef. I've been meeting an old friend for dinner and conversation on Wednesday nights instead.

And I can't neglect to mention my brief flirtation with bit torrent that I got over very quickly, mostly due to my technical incompetence and impatience with download times of more than four hours. Still I did find a site that streams Dexter, but I've only managed to watch three episodes of that, which is not to say I didn't like it, but I like watching my TV on the TV. There'll be no multi-platform-delivery-convergence-thing-a-mammy for me, no siree! But maybe Dexter should be in the side bar because I imagine I will watch it eventually, if sporadically, if someone doesn't close the site in question down, because I'm sure a legal reason is being searched for as I write.

Then there's the repository of the DVR hard-drive. Is there any point anyone knowing that I've still got two episodes of Jekyll to watch? That I haven't watched films that I recorded from over a year ago? Do you want to know when I watch them? Is it necessary for you know every time I point the remote at the television to turn it on. Why do I even want to relate every televisual experience I have? Am I wrong to think it's harder to have a list 'What I'm watching on Television' than 'What I'm reading' or 'What's in my library'?

Viewers, I'm boring myself, which is quite a feat for someone who is genuinely entertained by Facebook and its incessant applications.

The solution to the above dilemma, is the solution to many an academic problem, which is to point out the impossibility of comprehensiveness, to make instead the lesser claim for representativeness, or perhaps in this instance, the even lesser claim for 'whenever the hell I can be bothered to update the bloody list'! (Yes we really do say 'bloody' and 'hell' a lot here in Australia).

But, really, I first wanted to do the post to comment on the new TV programs I'd watched, to let you know which I was persisting with and which I was not, on the basis that there wasn't enough in them for me to commit to on a weekly basis.

Women's Murder Club
was in the latter list (this is what taking the discourse of equity to extreme banality looks like). Dirty Sexy Money was in the former. What a delight it is. Still enjoying Brothers & Sisters and Bondi Rescue. Hated Life--what an irritating character, what irritating pseudo Buddhism. Found Psych similarly irritating and unfunny, which is a shame for Dule Hill. Am lately getting into ABC2 much more. I like the time shifting and the British comedy repeats. Cannot believe the total mishandling of the commercial digital channels--do they want anyone to watch them? They make it so difficult, scheduling shows that attract similar viewers, ie me, up against one another. I'm not wasting another breath on them since the programmers are impervious to the constructive feedback about their scheduling practices that I read all over the internets and even in TV Week.



Ariel said...

I've become hooked on Medium lately. I'm not quite sure wy - I'm not a crime show buff and I don't watch Ghost Whisperer or Supernatural or anything like that. I think the writing is smart and I like Patricia Arquette and her husband ... and I like the way the show has dealt with Alison's secret being revealed, worked it into the plot, and moved on. Most shows don't survive that kind of plot twist. Bravo to them for not going down the 'and it was all a dream' path. (Which I think they did do in an earlier season.)

I've raved about how much I like Brothers and Sisters over at ThirdCat's, so won't do it again ... I do love it, though. Even though I am aware f its flaws.

Payton L. Inkletter said...

You can't miss Spicks and Specks, Kirsty; you'll have to record it. Oh, that's right, you don't get to watch your recordings. You are a right mess. (As most of us.)

Kirsty said...

Ariel, I think Medium does family really well. It's such a wonderful cast, especially Maria Lark who plays Bridgette. Even the titles admit what a stand out she is: her name appears as a couple of splashes of blood appear--and the sound right at that point is just perfect. (So I did say I've been watching it closely). I like your observation about the major plot twist--yes, it's quite a feat to manage that.

I did try and see what you'd said over at ThirdCat's but for some reason the site is 'taking too long to respond'. For myself, I have to point to the cast again. Sally Field *is* Nora Walker. I find myself incredibly moved by the story lines involving Justin: going to Iraq, struggling with drug rehabilitation. I never thought I'd be a fan of Calista Flockhart either, but boy. It might have something to do with the connection between her and Sally Field--their mother-daughter dynamic is something to behold. I just watched last Sunday's episode (yes, watching something I recorded!) and they were all so shockingly mean to one another!

I think it's not so surprising that we feel we have to make some kind of apology for liking these shows--being aware of their flaws-- which draw very much on melodrama: it's a woman's genre, too closely related to Soap Operas and the Confessional Talk Show that are so routinely derided by many a broadsheet television reviewer and by people who'll only admit to watching television (while holding their noses) in DVD box sets or via bit torrent downloads. It's really not cool TV whereby you can demonstrate some sort of uber-cultural capital. Still, it's incredibly satisfying, isn't it?

Ariel said...

Yes, I forgot to say on TC how much I love Calista's character and her dynamic with Rob Lowe, too. It reminds me of the one period when I liked Ally McBeal - when she had that thing going with Robert Downey Jr. The whole family dynamic really gets me. Sally Field reminds me of my mother (especially because my mother tells me and has for ages that she has been told she looks like SF). And my mum is American, I come from a big family - all of that helps in tugging the heartstrings, I think. (My family all live interstate.) I have to say it has made me cry a few times lately, and I'm not usually a TV sobber. When Justin went to Iraq & when Rachel Griffiths lost custody of her kids (I bawled at that).

And yes, that Bridgette is fabulous. Good on the producers for hiring her. She really is a very strange looking kid, but god she is good. Now that you mention it, I think I believe the Medium family dynamics, too. Yes, that husband of hers manages to get by on very little sleep ... but the day-to-day stuff is very believable - and smart and funny.