Red Right Hand: "HAMLET ON TELEVISION" SAID THE MEDDLING MONK
*He is not a secret agent. Not at all.

 

"HAMLET ON TELEVISION" SAID THE MEDDLING MONK

Television viewers are enablers.

I've railed before and before against mediumism. The idea that a work is less-than simply because of the medium it inhabits. For instance, the idea that a television show cannot rise to the level of a classic novel simply because it's on the "idiot box." Every medium has it's total crap. I point you to a large swath of the romance and science fiction sections of your local bookstore (not all, but plenty I'm afraid to say).

My musing at this moment is about the crap that passes for [fill in a medium]. If any medium can rise above, then why do we get force fed shit. Bad movies, crappy TV, books that are an unfit justification for arborcide. We blame the executives. I blame you.

Not you specifically. Just people in general. The consumers. The ones who would rather spend their money on total shite than anything else. The ones who are apparently so taxed by day-to-day life that the use of any brain power beyond autonomic response is just too much.

It's not new. Having seen every possible episode of Doctor Who from the Jon Pertwee era to the present, I've decided it was high time delve into some of the old, black and white, early serials. I decided to begin with "The Time Meddler," as it features another Time Lord and a juxtaposition of science fiction and historical adventure. In it, the Meddling Monk of the title is messing around with 1066 A.D. by infecting it with wristwatches and electric toasters. He intends to mess around with the Norman Invasion as well.

It also had the Doctor refer to a piece of viking headgear as a "space helmet for cows."


I watched it with the infotext subtitles on and at one point it covered some viewer testing the BBC had done that was ultimately influential in turning Doctor Who away from historical adventures for years to focus solely on the future and guys in rubber monster suits. In the course of the story, our characters come across anachronistic items, not yet knowing of the Monk and his mad plans (which included accelerating human development to acheiving flight by the fifteenth century and to where Shakespeare would Hamlet performed on television). It's called building the story. Apparently it's also called "too confusing."

That was the gist of many of the comments the Beeb got from their surveys...because people are stupid. And we all have to suffer for it.

I realize it's the mid-sixties there, but I still hear the same damn thing from people in the here and now. People who got thrown off by the polar bear in the first episode of Lost. People who can't grasp the juxtaposition of western and space opera (yeah, you know). People who just can't follow The Wire because it's not all laid out for them.

However, the continued existence of Lost and five full seasons of The Wire say that there have been gains, I say...not enough! I rouse rabbles.

Don't get me wrong, I likes me some total fluff now and again. I even like Austin Powers 3. Yeah, three. Same jokes, third time around. But I like good stuff too. And I want a lot of it. I want more of it. So if this is our collective faults, we must collectively fix it.

Your mission, go find a friend with questionable taste (more likely perhaps a coworker that you're friendly with, but no so much friends with...you know, the one that considers American Idol quality television) and help him or her out and do it in an fiscally impactful way. Find them something good to like, something you think they stand an excellent chance of really enjoying, then do like the crack dealers do...get them started, then make them buy the rest. Loan them the first disk of Firefly or Friday Night Lights or whatever (Doctor Who, mayhaps), then get them to hit the Best Buy for the rest (how exactly is your problem).

If we're the enablers, then let's do some enabling.
©2016 Michael Patrick Sullivan