catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 3, Num 1 :: 2004.01.02 — 2004.01.15


Television 2003

What programs, specials or events made television worth watching in 2003?

*cino staff pick: The Cubs in the playoffs. The loveable losers brought a renewed historical significance to the pennant race this year. And before that whole nasty thing with the foul ball, baseball was a joy to watch again.

Some shorter answers:

P.F.: NY Mets’ opening day.

D.D.: HGTV and all the home improvement shows, because that’s been my life the last two months. Renovations, that is.

C.N.: Extreme House Makeover was one of the most enjoyable, worthwhile television events of my life.

And some longer answers:

V.K.: Call me demented, or call me interested in how recent history has shaped our world, but most of the best TV this year was on the History Channel. My favorite horror show is not typical movies/TV, but watching interviews of aged Nazis—a regular feature on History Channel. I’d love to see aged Communists interviewed too, but there are fewer interviews of them. Personal details about the two biggest, baddest, most destructive dictatorships ever…fascinating.

I want to find more clues as to how supposedly rational people can be so duped and suckerpunched by National Socialist or Communistic Socialist doctrine. I am also fascinated by Ku Klux Klan programs. American-bred fools. My favorite Nazi/KKK learning moment was when History Channel ran info on the American Nazis and then on the KKK. Across the lawn this past summer—and on that same morning—I could see a swastika burned on my neightbor’s lawn. Three ironies here: one, the perpetrator did not realize I had a biracial child; two, the Nazi/KKK programs informed me in-depth as to the mindset of such people; and three, some persons (on two different web sites) had accused me of Nazi tendencies in total disregard of what (historically) a Nazi was and is. So some TV programs can shine the light of historical truth on ignorance and the public school education of some (including me) who didn’t learn enough about our past until we learned on our own.

H.B.: I don’t own a TV, so normally I wouldn’t have much to say here, but we did a bunch of visiting and house-sitting last fall, and so I got to follow the baseball playoffs in much more detail than I normally can. They were fantastically exciting this year. Two of baseball’s hardest-luck teams (no championships since 1908 and 1918, respectively), the Cubs and Red Sox pulled off unlikely first-round Series wins, only to each suffer heartbreaking, down-to-the-wire losses in the second round. The World Series was practically an afterthought in comparison. Of course, if the Sox had met the Cubs in the World Series, the world would have ended during game seven because otherwise one of them would have had to win.

J.V.: I have been strangely fixated on The Practice this season. The loss of several of the main characters at the end of last season made one wonder where David E. Kelly could possibly go with it. It was prophesied to be another doomed X-Files. Instead, it would seem that Kelly chose to take a bit of the “soap opera” out of the show and actually add more character and drama as well as humanness. The addition of James Spader was a daring move. The last time Kelly brought in a quirky character to one of his shows, it was Robert Downey Jr. on Ally McBeal, which ended up with an actor in rehab and a favored series soon off the air. Yet, Spader’s character has brought fresh air to the show as a lawyer who is not afraid of doing whatever is necessary to make sure the “right” thing is done—even if that means that the law is not in his favor. As is typical in a Kelly show, he takes the latest news headlines and writes a compelling argument for both sides of any debate, leaving the viewer second guessing his or her own stand on many issues. From sex in the church to obesity on the airlines, Kelly is not afraid of taking on the toughest issues and making his viewers consider a different position.

What was the most sensationalistic moment or event you saw on television this year?

*cino staff pick: Gulf War coverage, reality TV, and Jerry Springer aside, the single most sensationalistic moment we saw on TV this year was when Fox News broke in on regularly scheduled programming to show us pictures of what they thought was Michael Jackson’s airplane. The reporters had been hanging around the airport all that afternoon, expecting Jackson to turn himself in on charges of child molestation at any time. Fox News cameras followed the airplane as it moved back and forth from hangar to hangar before it finally stopped. The reporter held his breath as, one by one, each person got off the plane, and none of them being Michael Jackson. You could actually hear people in the Fox studio laughing in the background.

P.F.: NY Mets’ opening day.

V.K.: Saddam’s statue coming down. And shots of the big graveyards of Kurds gassed by Saddam. Do we realize the man is a Hitler/Stalin wannabee?

H.B.: Kerry Woods’ home run in the seventh game of the National League Championship Series. Oh, yeah, and there was a war or something. Pretty good coverage on CBC. Saw a great documentary detailing exactly how many different countries and international organizations, including the U.N., have their fingers in Iraqi oil. It provided some insight into Russia and France’s attitudes towards the war (they were illegally buying oil from Saddam on the cheap) as well as the chance the Iraqi people have of controlling their own oil interests (the proverbial snowballs in Saudi Arabia). CBC also had some good roundtable discussions with Iraqi citizens outlining their perspectives on the U.S. invasion (you mean there’s more than one?!?). Oddly enough, none of them presented the simplistic “free at last!” rhetoric that we were hearing other places, like, oh, say, CNN: “How big are your guns, general?” and “How free will the Iraqi people be when you’re done here, general?”

C.N.: For pure sensational schmaltz, the final episode of Survivor: Pearl Islands, or the brief moments of Trista and Ryan’s wedding that I feel embarrassed to admit seeing.

J.V.: Whilst toying with the wild fires in CA, I would have to say the most sensationalistic moment on TV was the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and the witch-hunt that pursued following the tragedy. Even up to last week, the LA Times was running a 6-part story on the tragedy and how it could have been avoided. For whatever reason, it would seem that the media ran more on the “who’s at fault” headlines and missed an opportunity to truly commemorate the men and women on board the craft. The repetition of the exploding shuttle was etched into the minds of Americans and then drilled to de-sensitivity as weeks went by and every channel continued to pump out the footage from all angles.

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