Recently I’ve spent six months without TV. I didn’t think I was depriving myself. Watching TV was never high on my to do list. Besides travelling feels a bit like TV. The difference is that instead of watching the moving pictures firmly planted on a couch, one observes mostly stationary world through the windows of a moving car.
That of course does not change the fact that I crave mindless entertainment just as much as the next gal. Point in case: I managed to subject myself to 2 seasons of Prison Break. It’s not TV in its classic sense. Our slightly dusty set serves as a dumb add-on to a streaming Roku box connected to a temporarily unfrozen Netflix account. We get HD (which excites Damian and leaves me unfazed) and no commercial breaks. And of course we can watch it on our own schedule. Assuming the schedule calls for watching couple of years after the show has been aired.
In spite of missing on a week long pauses between the episodes, the first season was quite captivating. I would probably enjoy it even without an acute case of the media hunger. The plot was thought-out, pieces of puzzle fit together, the whole idea was innovative and not too many deus-ex-machina devices were employed. And finally, a practical use for a body tattoo. But as it always happens with American shows it became victim of its own success. The screenwriters’ strike came too late to save it from inglorious continuation (just curtailed the third season). Inevitably the second season disintegrates amid plot gimmicks, surprises, improbable turn of events and psychologically inconsistent development of characters.
I was ready to give up on it when in the 9th episode fugitives found themselves in Moab, Utah. And then in Durango, Colorado. Hey, I was there this summer! And this is how I managed to experience the familiar truth: things do look different on television. I started paying attention anew hoping to see a familiar sight. Or a mention of some local attraction. Nope, apparently there is nothing interesting there unless you are fleeing authorities or trying to recover stolen millions.
On TV there are no caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico, no gypsum dunes in Las Cruces, no hot springs nor cliff dwellings in Gila, no river gorge in Green River, Wyoming, no arches nor canyons in Moab, Utah, no steam train in Durango, Colorado. There are no dinosaur bones in Dinosaur, but that’s at least understandable: producers decided to put it in Nebraska while the real Dinosaur is in Colorado. Creating a fictional city just to have a car break in it seems a bit too much trouble. But hey, at least they got to use an unusual name.
I know that TV shows are created to relief the pain when swallowing the outrageous claims of advertisement agencies, not to educate the viewing public about the allure of local attractions. And almost everything is shot in Canada anyway. Instead of complaining I should be grateful that screenwriters have a decency to look at the map at least occasionally. But I wonder if there is even more sinister agenda at play here. Showing tourist sights may prompt a viewer to trade the boob tube for some real-life experience. And then farewell eyeballs. Good-bye advertisement revenues.
In the meantime, on an LCD screen, our characters are returned to a prison. I am sure this is no news to you. And it’s not even surprising to me - after all the show is not titled Living Happily on a Boat while Being Unrealistically Good Looking and Recently Un-Incarcerated. I cannot wait to miss the nail biting stories of the third and fourth seasons followed by an ultimate punishment of a successful show: the movie. Having satisfied the craving I am quite ready to break out from the media prison and see the real world again.