In the wake of my thorough enjoyment of William Shatner's "Star Trek Memories," audiobook-style, I'm making a little summer project of watching the re-mastered ST:TOS on TV Land. So shiny, so colorful! Of course, I orginally watched most of these episodes on my mother's black & white TV in the 70's, so the saturated colors aren't part of my personal sense memory of the show. And to tell the truth, there are a number of episodes I haven't seen since then, making them practically new to me. I was certainly struck anew by the still-relevant political commentary of "A Taste of Armageddon" the other day. (That's the one where the war is conducted bloodlessly, thus diminishing the incentive to find peace.)
For a certain group of people, inside stories about Star Trek are how we learned how television was made. I credit David Gerrold's "Inside"/"Making Of" books for my earliest understanding of script formatting, the notes process, and production realities. For the current generation, I believe that Buffy fandom served the same purpose of illuminating the process.
So there I am, blissfully watching "Errand of Mercy." And there's Kirk, in the middle of an impassioned plea to the Organian Council, when his communicator beeps. And what does he do? He answers it! Of course, it's only through 21st century hindsight that it seems like poor etiquette, but holy crap, any fool knows you don't answer your cell phone in the middle of a meeting! What a boor!
I try to cast my mind back to the days before cell phones. In a world where a ubiquitous pocket communicator was the stuff of fantasy, it must have seemed perfectly natural that when that thing beeps, it takes priority. And I suppose even today, in a military context, if the line to HQ or from the troops buzzes, you don't let it go to voice mail. Still, it was pretty jarring to see Kirk demonstrate so little respect for the people he was there to "help," that he would leave them hanging while he took a call.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I saw an episode of this web series at a WGA-sponsored panel entitled "What Are Teens Watching." After failing to win a DVD of the series in the door-prize drawing (Door prizes? At the Guild? Ooookay....) I checked out the rest of the episodes online. #3, "Facebook," which screened at the panel, remains my favorite, but the whole series has charm. I also hear it's being developed as a pilot for CBS. I'm thinking they need a good match for Big Bang Theory. These nerds are younger and less professionally successful, but in the same wheelhouse. It has the endearing premise of centering on guys who really want Girlfriends, i.e., human connection, as opposed to just sex.
We Need Girlfriends
We Need Girlfriends
The Panel itself, co-sponsored by the Teen Media Project, was an interesting evening, though it wound up focusing more on the projects of the panelists and moderator (two web series, WNG and Planet Unicorn, and the ABC Family teen-aimed series Lincoln Heights) than on the larger question of what's getting teen eyeballs these days. There were two Actual Teens on the panel but they seemed more atypical than typical, one having already graduated college and the other being an award-winning music producer, so I'm not sure how reliable their window into the teen psyche was...
The young musician, though, made a a telling comment, stating that he's not much of a TV watcher and that this is because growing up, "we only had two TVs in the house, one in the living room and one in my Mom's room, and if the one in the living was on something I didn't like, I'd just do something else." (Quote approximate.) He genuinely felt that interest in watching TV arises out of having your own TV and control of the programming. I couldn't imagine trying to explain to him that most of the hardcore TV junkies I know grew up in single-TV households. We negotiated and compromised over what to watch -- or we watched whatever our parents chose. Sometimes we watched stuff we didn't like -- and sometimes we grew to find it interesting. I fear that in the modern niche-based, personal-device market, people never have to watch something that someone else chose, never have to be exposed to something that isn't right down their alley. This will surely have unintended consequences.