Volume 92, Issue 9

Thursday, September 17, 1998

service with a smile


Tube preemies, telling vision

When the music's over turn out the lights or turn on the television. This little hotbed of pop culture has transformed the water cooler from a break into a renaissance. The '90s have enjoyed their fair share of inspirational television broadcasting with comedy hits like Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Kids in the Hall and Mad About You. Dramatic groundbreakers have shed a new light on societal institutions in shows like ER, Law and Order and the X-Files. The late night meat grinder has devoured many a "magic" star but comedic talents like Conan O'Brien and Jerry Springer have exploded and maintained their humour amid corporate animosity.

Modern television has broken down many walls of prejudice and censorship with television shows like North of 60 or The Rez, which gave voice to the First Nations and Ellen, in which the show's star "came out" and established respect and understanding towards homosexuality.

Even crime and death have become a regular feature on the nightly low-brow crap-fest called Fox programming, where slumming to new heights in comedy has never been a problem. However, NBC's Tom Brokaw redeemed the quest for quality programming when he took up the fight for television on the latest Emmy Awards by saying the audience should not overlook the great informative power of the medium. When it comes to television everybody has an opinion – which may be its greatest compliment. But who really cares about what Tom Brokaw has to say.

So who will return to the top or break it big to find a place in television hearts this year? Television is a progressive tool that networks have used to feed our brains with comedic cereals, dramatic full-course meals and sexy desserts. Throughout the years the integrity has fallen and risen more times than my mother's blood pressure – but this year's programming line-up looks promising.

A new show that has attracted a lot of attention is That 70s Show which brought many a sofa to its knees with a dope smoking scene in its first episode. The Simpsons are back after a slower year and should keep treating all their viewers with the disrespect and sarcasm that has made it famous.

Many viewers are also waiting for the resolution of some big time cliffhangers like the infamous Friends "mistaken vow." Frasier's witticism, Alley McBeal's strong representation of the working woman and the X-Files complex and imaginative plots leave an optimistic view that televisions existence is not merely to propagate Springer's smear, but to inspire, entertain and project idealized portraits of life.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998