Monday, November 29, 2010

New Discoveries

When I'm asked what I watch on television, I know most people mean "what do you watch at night on network TV?"  So, I generally answer "the cop shows."  I'm not lying, it's what I watch.  From Tuesday to Thursday, barring a couple's all I watch, at night.  Granted, they are all pretty much the same show.  On Tuesday, you have NCIS which is the navy cop show, NCIS: Los Angeles is the same show, but takes place in L.A. (I had no clue), with better technology.  Wednesday you get Criminal Minds, which profiles serial killers and the new show, The Defenders with the (now former) fat kid, Vern, from Stand By Me and John Belushi's brother.  They play lawyers, which I know isn't really a cop show, but there are often cops in it's a variation on the theme.  Then on Thursday, you get the cop show where they pick up trash (CSI) and the one where the carny con-artist wears the same suit every week (The Mentalist).  I do watch and enjoy (for the most part) these shows.

It's also far easier to speak generally about network shows.  There's not much substance to them, they are trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator to get high ratings.  I get it.  I also watch a lot of television for educational purposes.  With the advent of cable and channels like Discovery, Science and History channels, you can learn quite a bit in an hour or 44 minutes, with commercials.  A lot of these shows are made like short documentaries.  They serve as a good starting point on the subject covered.  You're not going to learn everything about it, but you'll learn something.  Maybe, it'll be interesting enough to get you to investigate more about the covered subject(s).  This is what I try to do with my music blog entries.

A show that does this very well, in my opinion, is called Iconoclasts, which is on the Sundance Channel.  My guess is you've probably never heard of it, but if you have, I bet you know where I'm going with this.  It's been on for 5 seasons, but only does 6 episodes per season.  The show takes two "creative visionaries" (the words of the show, not mine) and puts them together.  Sometimes they know one another (Redford and Newman) and other times they don't (Jon Favreau and Tony Hawk), but it works. 

The most recent episode I saw (on demand, the new season just started), which happened to be the last one for this current season, featured magician David Blaine and artist Chuck Close.  Ok, say what you want about Blaine the stunt man, he's still one of the best: street/up close/sleight of hand magicians around.  

I've seen Blaine a bunch of times.  I love magic and sleight of hand.  So, it's what initially interested me about the episode, but then I saw Chuck Close's art.  Amazing, for anyone, but hearing his story, makes it that much more remarkable.  Seeing how Close creates with his handicap is beyond words.  Me describing, how he paints, would not do it justice. 

I definitely recommend the show, because there is really something for everyone.  Michael Stipe is paired with Mario Batali, Samuel L. Jackson with Bill Russell and Chalize Theron with Jane Goodall, to name a couple of episodes over the years.  I will admit, the one with Mike Myers and Deepak Chopra is a pretty odd match.  Check it out.  I bet you'll learn something.

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