Friday, September 23, 2005

A shallow view of American T.V.

The new television season has started in America, and as I salivate as I hear U.S. bloggers tell their tales of wondrous new episodes, I can only think of my narrow view of current American television.

We don’t often get first run American T.V. shows here in Greece. The exception has been LOST and Desperate Housewives, which they started showing prior to the end of last season. The shows we do get (and by I mean get, I mean if you buy a pay channel here called Filmnet, or get NOVA satellite service, which includes Filmnet, which is what we have) are usually at least a year behind in season, if not more.

The Filmnet T.V. season for American series typically runs from October to March, and in March or shortly thereafter they might start recent purchases (which is when they started LOST and Desperate Housewives). Since I’ve lived here, they’ve showed Friends, Sex and the City, Alias, C.S.I., Six Feet Under and a few other shows they’ve introduced and taken away, like Curb Your Enthusiasm, some show starring Joan Cusak, and a couple other unnotables I don’t recall. In the last year they started C.S.I.:Miami, Nip/Tuck, LOST and Desperate Housewives, and just recently they started Las Vegas, The Grid, and LAX on the new channel Filmnet 3. Filmnet will also be premiering Joey at the beginning of October. Aside from this, all American shows that appear on Greek T.V. are re-runs that are two or more years old, ranging from America’s Funniest Home Videos to Monk. One of the public channels, NET, has promised C.S.I.:New York, but I’ll be damned if I have seen it in the schedule as of yet.

My parents often send me videotapes with highlights of their favorite shows (as our tastes have often been the same), which have included House, Medium, Numb3rs, Two and a Half Men, and of course, the quintessential parent show, Sunday Morning. All this does, usually, is cause me to lament my lack of viewing options – and trust me, even if I did have a working understanding of spoken Greek, I am certain I would not watch any Greek shows.

So now I am out – I am a confirmed T.V. addict. I love T.V. shows that are done well, hold my interest, make me laugh or cry, keep me wanting more. I miss the Monday night lineup of Murphy Brown and Northern Exposure. I miss Twin Peaks, X-Files, Friends, and Seinfeld. Luckily, all of these can be purchased on DVD so I don’t have to miss them much, aside from the appeal of new episodes, which dies by the end of any show anyway. But if only the good shows could keep their appeal, and stay fresh.

I enjoy C.S.I, I have always liked the cop/solving a mystery type show. It can be annoying watching such a show with a doctor, but I think he has learned to pretty much keep his trap shut by now. Still, with two versions of C.S.I. on, that doesn’t leave much variety. Alias I tolerate, it has some good action and I can get into the plot, but I probably wouldn’t watch it if I had a plethora of other choices (there, I said it). Six Feet Under I enjoy, although I think it has been slipping some of late (and it looks like they aren’t going to give us the last season here, either). I wish they had kept up with Curb Your Enthusiasm, but I can also understand how a show like that might not work well with a foreign audience. I didn’t find Nip/Tuck appealing at all, not even as “something to watch.” I began watching LOST when it first aired here. After the first episode I didn’t really have an opinion, so I thought I’d watch another. After the second I was even more apathetic about it, but thought I’d give it another try, since it was THE hit show in America. After the fifth episode I gave up on it, for a couple of simple reasons. For one, they had done absolutely nothing to make me care about any of the characters at all. I felt they were all flat, uninteresting people. I didn’t care about their plight. For another, I was not immersed in the storyline at all. I didn’t care what they would discover. I didn’t care what the weird monster thing was. I just didn’t care. But perhaps it was more that the genre is lost on me (pun intended) instead of the show being crappy. I don’t like survival/adventure type shows. I really, really liked Desperate Housewives, it was so NOT what I expected. It had a nice Twin Peaks-like atmosphere. I am hoping they can hold up the show for a second season, but we’ll see. It is difficult to maintain such a show.

Still, I am feeling kinda left out at all the discussion on American blogs about the new T.V. season. I miss having all those shows to choose from, the new and the old, always the potential for something truly groundbreaking. I’d love to get a gander at My Name is Earl, and everyone keeps talking about some show with Mark Harmon. Has he aged well? If so, raaaaow!

Even our satellite channels don't get the same shows as their U.S. counterparts. VH1 here has a dismal schedule that included hours upon hours of Bands Reunited but never The Surreal Life. E! manages to get around to all their U.S. programming, but usually a couple months behind. The Discovery channel here is a non-stop Hitler-fest, and even the episodes of American Chopper we see are well behind. Will there be new episodes of Air Crash Investigation on National Geographic? Who knows?

I guess I will have to learn to live with what I can get, and watch vicariously through other people's blogs.


Anonymous said...

I love Northern Exposure and Desperate Housewives, among others you mentioned, including CSI. Mas I must be the only living creature in the solar sistem to hate Seinfeld. Well, I don’t realy hate Seinfeld; I simply don’t understand the huge success of that thing. My friends say there must be something very wrong about me. I love the King of Queens to, by the way.


Anonymous said...

I think most countries run behind the States when it comes to American programming. I think the US networks prefer to be the channel premiering the new program or be the first to show that last ever episode of your favorite shows.

I have to be honest though and say I've not watched many of the shows you list. Friends obviously I did, Six Feet Under I enjoyed but managed to loose the plot during the second season. As for the coming soon shows like Joey, I just think hasn't the US network pulled the plug on it yet. Last I heard, it wasn't doing too well.

I'm also surprised your writing Greek television off so quickly. Some of the shows are really good. It's also good that they cover a wide variety of different genres. I've enjoyed catching the reruns of 'S'agapo M'agapas' on Mega over the summer which is a comedy. I enjoy watching 'Stin Ygeia Mas' on NET which is a musical program. Greek TV channels used to rely very heavily on foreign bought programing and personally it's nice that home made, well made shows make it to prime time on the major channels.

melusina said...

Seinfeld is probably, like Curb Your Enthusiasm, a little America-centric. Plus the humor is not your straight up normal humor, more of an acquired taste. Kinda like how I can't appreciate Benny Hill.

I like the music on Stin Ygeia Mas but, and I say this to my husband every weekend, the whole "pretend we are at a taverna" thing really annoys me for some reason. But I am easily annoyed by things that shouldn't annoy me, as you must know from reading my blog. =p

A lot of the Greek series seem so simple and soap opera-ish. I still can't believe that NET show that tried to be Sex and the City. My MIL and SIL watch "Vera Sto Dexi" and are totally into it, but it seems stupid to me. One day, I started watching some show (no idea what it was) and it was such a cliche, the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law didn't get along, and the MIL went on a bus trip, and the bus crashed, and MIL died, and oh the drama!

Eff said...


melusina said...

We just got done watching an episode of Monk. It is such a good show. It was just starting in America when I left. I'm glad they are finally showing it here.

melusina said...

We just got done watching an episode of Monk. It is such a good show. It was just starting in America when I left. I'm glad they are finally showing it here.