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Television Programming and Friends

Posted Friday, April 3, 2009, at 9:34 AM

I'm a television "fan."

I don't watch a lot of television but am passionately addicted to what I do watch. Since the advent of VHS machines and now DVRs I no longer plan my schedule around television shows, but I still plan hours during the week when I can catch up with my recorded programs.

And then there come those years like this one when half of my programs are wiped out.

I knew "Lost" was going to end because it was scheduled to be a five-year show. But who would have thought that "ER" would end in its fifteenth season? "Battlestar Galatica" has come and gone; how can I know it's Friday night without Battlestar Galatica? It seems like half of my entertainment has come to the end of its programming. In many ways I've entered a period of grief.

We live in this day and age when we can feel closer to fictional characters and situations in a television series than we do our neighbors and friends. Whether it is reality oriented, dramatic programming, or simply escapist entertainment, our television programs have persons with whom we can identify and situations that capture our attention.

Again, thanks to the DVR, I can fast forward through the commercials. Again, thanks to the DVR, I can still "stay current" by recording weekly shows I won't see for months. For instance, friends of mine love the Monday night show called "Heroes," but haven't watched a new episode in two years; they are waiting for a couple of weekends where they can sit and continuously watch two years of episodes.

Notice that DVDs of television shows are now outselling most of the DVDs of recent movies? You can catch up with canceled but beloved shows (like "Sex In the City") or begin watching current shows now in several years of storylines (like "24"). Indeed, if you have the money for purchasing such or a library card for renting, you can keep watching shows over and over again.

There won't be any new episodes to enjoy but you can watch the old ones till you know every line.

My generation did this with afternoon television repeats like "Gilligan's Island", "I Love Lucy," and the original "Star Trek." Now you can watch cable stations with older shows as well as the infinite variety of DVDs.

Oh, excuse me, I'm old technology; now you can download nearly anything that's ever been on television!

And after awhile, I suddenly notice that my next door neighbors have moved out of their house. I hear about a friend's death and that he died months ago. I discover that George Bush is no longer our president.

I've been so busy "watching" fictional television programming that I've let my own life pass me by.

My friends have moved on and found other friends (or favorite shows of their own...). I've allowed my life to seem "black and white" while blinded by the techno-color of digitally shot shows.

And the grief I feel regarding favorite shows no longer in production is a cheap imitation for the richness that life offers for me if I will only live it.

Maybe it's a good thing that several of my favorite shows have now closed down for good. And, instead of finding new shows to substitute for the others, I may just turn the DVR off and go find some good entertainment in living color!

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Check out hulu.com. They have some out of syndication shows on there. May not be all of the episodes, but there's a few.

-- Posted by purple_heat on Sat, Apr 4, 2009, at 4:18 PM

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Sunshine for the Soul
Rev. P.T. Wilson
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P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.
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