Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Mostly childhood TV (distracting myself)

Horrible nightmare last night. It ranks with the one about gaaldine among my worst nightmares ever. It was not a screaming one, thankfully, so it just bothered me and not markgritter and timprov. Still, it combined personal helplessness, great harm to my loved ones, and malicious stupidity from other people. Oh yay. I just can't wait to go back to sleep.

So rather than obsessively wandering from room to room checking whether timprov and markgritter are still breathing (since, y'know, they're here and I could, even if it would be neurotic and obnoxious), I've been writing e-mail and finishing up a thank-you note, and now here I am.

Someone asked what my favorite cartoons/TV shows were when I was a kid. I wasn't allowed to watch much TV, and when I was allowed, I wasn't really all that interested. I was terrified of Scooby Doo, which always confuses people until I mention that I never watched a whole show straight through, so I never got to see that it was always an old guy in a rubber mask. And nobody thought to tell me that it was -- they just kept repeating, "It's not scary, it'll turn out all right," which is not at all the same thing as, "It's really an old guy in a rubber mask; it always is." I suppose they didn't want to ruin it for me.

I liked "Head of the Class," because I was heavily geek-identified even as a little kid: a show about the smart kids was a show about "us." I liked that the smart kids weren't all the same. I mean, the characters were not deep -- they had the Fat Kid and the Tough Guy and so on -- but they were all supposed to be the smart kids, the Pretty Dreamy Girl and all of them. It wasn't that only the Classic Nerd was smart. They all were. The smart kids got to have romances and other normal things. And while they sometimes teased the Classic Nerd for his foibles, the other smart kids were also his friends and stuck by him. I wanted to believe in that.

(When I was in seventh grade, Marylyn heard that one of the other kids in her gifted English class had called me a nerd. She hit the ceiling and screamed her actress-lungs out at us, that if we didn't stand up for each other, she could guarantee that no one else was going to stand up for us. That we had to see how the others in the class were special, because not everyone could see it, where other kinds of being special were a lot more recognized around there. It...made an impression. We weren't "all bestest pals" after that, but I never heard another kid from that class try to make points by putting down someone else's geekiness, not in the whole time I was in junior high and high school with those kids. And honors classes in high school were more or less "safe" zones for me. Again, I wasn't close with all the other honors kids, but being the AcaDec president and founder of science club was not a liability in that crowd. People didn't throw things at you for just sitting there reading silently. Hooo, digression. Anyway.)

I liked "Star Trek: the Next Generation" as long as Tasha Yar was on it. Which wasn't very long, and I'm not very good at staying with TV series anyway -- never have been -- so I didn't watch obsessively even early on. I mean, it's not like it was a book or something. But Tasha Yar didn't have a girlyjob, and that was very important to me as a kid. (Some people try to claim that Dr. Crusher, as a doctor, didn't have a girlyjob, either. I've seen male specialists, but I've never had a male for my primary-care physician. Ever in my entire life. So it never registered that girls might not be doctors, because of course they were; boys might not be, for all I knew at that age.)

I watched the "He Man" and "She Ra" cartoons sometimes when I was little mostly because my little-boy friends liked to play He Man, and I was much fonder of that than the low-to-no-narrative games some of the little girls we knew wanted to play. I also watched "Transformers" and a couple of Transformer-derivative things with robots. They weren't that much more interesting to me than the "girl" cartoons, but the boys were a lot more interesting to me than the girls in general, more willing to play games that involved slaying sea serpents and the like, so if I was going to watch cartoons, I watched "theirs." Not "G.I. Joe," though. No interest whatsoever in "G.I. Joe." No swords, no robots, no thanks.

lydy was talking about "Electric Company" recently, and I dimly recall watching that occasionally, but it was in reruns by the time I was born. The "educational" children's show I really imprinted on was "Square One TV." Mathman! Mathman! I would have gladly signed up to be Sgt. Monday. We still make a fair number of "Square One" jokes around here.

I liked "Dinosaurs," at first, I'm pretty sure. Late-season "Dinosaurs" was not that great.

I don't know. I was always frustrated because my mom wanted me to watch TV (that is, not read) when I was home sick from school, and TV was not at all appealing. In school they showed us TV about books, and that was even worse, patronizing and stupid, and if they wanted us to do something with books, reading them seemed like the obvious choice to me. My folks would sometimes put on "The Cosby Show" or "Cheers" or "M*A*S*H" -- my mom's taste in TV extends much further into the mainstream than mine does, and while I now think "M*A*S*H" did some good stuff, it was not really accessible to me the year I turned 5, which is the year it went off the air. It was something I knew about -- I could have told you who the characters were -- but I didn't pay it much attention.

We didn't have cable until August 10, 1994, when my parents broke down and got cable to watch baseball. Those of you who follow baseball are now laughing, because August 12, 1994, is when MLB went on strike. We followed Twins baseball on the radio. WNAX Yankton was my mom's lifeline to home. I'm not kidding when I say that the second-most commonly heard prayer of my childhood, after the standard Lutheran ComlorJesus at the table, was my mom praying for Puckett to pull the Twinks out of the 9th before the signal strength ramped down at 10:00. They were big on late-game heroics in that era, and we missed some of it because WNAX turned its power down, and the Omaha World-Herald didn't even run good baseball news the next morning. There were times in late-season '87 and '91 when Mom would call my grands at 10:00 to hear the rest of the game. (My grands still lived up here then.)

I think mostly the TV was not on all that much. I remember getting excited about what new cartoons there would be in the fall, and I remember being disappointed in what they actually turned out to be. So I gave up. Watching TV was not enjoyable enough in itself to be worth spending the time to find the good shows. Frankly, it's still not: I only end up watching TV shows if someone else in the house is interested or if there's a critical mass of recommendations, and sometimes not even then. DVDs are a good way for me to watch TV, not because of the lack of commercials (although that's nice) but because there's a whole season or sometimes a whole series right there, and I can watch a story arc without having to put any additional effort in, and I can watch that story arc on my time, not someone else's.

Some people have suggested a TiVo, but eh: I'd have to program it to save what I wanted, and if nobody showed the episode in the middle of the plot arc when I wanted to see it, it wouldn't get TiVo'ed, and then I'd have to actually watch stuff, or else delete it from the TiVo, and it just sounds like a great deal more work for...more television? What a fabulous reward. Hold me back.

TV is mostly not visually interesting to me. I can watch a TV show socially because the other people in the room are visually interesting. I'm not one of the "TV is poison! Down with TV!" people. I think it's a valid art form. It's just one with more misses than hits for me.
Tags: at least you can shop there, small screen, what do you dream about

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