Friday, September 21, 2012
Paging Dr. Joel Fleischman, Dr. Joel Fleishman please report to The Brick for happy hour.
In general, I don't like watching television. There are very few shows (scripted or otherwise) that I've been exposed to that have warranted even a little bit of my attention. It seems that most of the programming on television is carefully designed propaganda (I'm looking at you, every piece of news programming today, national or local) or meticulously constructed (usually obnoxious) efforts to separate me from my money.
However, there have been a few shows that I've felt connected to, so that even now, I will take the time to watch. One of them is Third Rock from the Sun, which is a show that has survived and passed the test of time. The other one is perhaps my favorite television show I've ever known: Northern Exposure, and to say that it has passed the test of time is to do it a disservice. The fact that I was in my formative years when both of these shows aired is significant, if only because this was a time when I did watch a lot of television, and actually kinda cared about it.
Those of you who are familiar with the show may be thinking that the key to my enthusiasm lies with the doctor who plays the lead. Indeed, this surely has something to do with it, but it was not the reason I originally fell in love with the show, nor why I enjoy it now (however, it does lend a certain sort of insight concerning my perspective on the town and it's people). However, in light of how many doctors are depicted in popular culture today, I guess it could be a bigger aspect if I were to let it.
The last season of the show has the original doctor, Joel Fleischman, gone from the town, as he has fulfilled his obligation that stemmed from his med-school scholarship. The doctor that takes his place, as the big-city, newly-minted, hot-shot doctor is not a character I ever fully embraced, and the casting decision to find someone who was as much of a cookie-cutter cut-out of Fleischman was misguided at best. What having Fleischman gone from the town allows for is the increased focus on the townspeople themselves and for solidifying some on-going story lines that needed to be addressed. Despite the leads absence, the final season of this show still works, and serves as a proper exit.
Okay, I'm really not trying to turn this blog into a TV show critic page, but instead express my, admittedly, myopic and fluctuating desire to live in that world. Now, in general I am not susceptible to the "fantasizing" bug (although, against my better judgement, I did join a fantasy football league this season) and again, in general am very happy and content to be myself. Perhaps this is because of the lack of options concerning me actually being someone else, (despite deepest longings) and at this point in my life I've resigned myself to making peace with my perceived shortcomings -- if not downright celebrate them. When those silly questionnaires are presented to me, whether they be psycho-analyst in nature or some kind of ridiculous ice breaker exercises that ask who I'd rather be, or something like that, I have a difficult time reconciling the fact that I really have no actual desire to be anyone else. Or, maybe I just have stopped wasting precious brain power on such futile-ness . . . but, if this were the case, I would have stopped doing a lot of things that I keep doing, but we all have to pick our poisons.
There is a chance that I so enjoy watching Northern Exposure simply because they are one of the few instances in popular culture where we are allowed to see and get to know a multi-dimensional character. I would argue that the presentation of any characters, institutions or situations is presented in the most simplified and capitalized image possible. Yesterday, I spent a few hours at a Stanford Research clinic, where I was repeatedly drained of my blood and asked to go back to the waiting room until the next bleeding. In the waiting room I was subjected to a television blaring FOX news the whole time. I was appalled and greatly saddened to listen to what they had to say about so many issues that are of importance to this nation. Like I said prior, I don't watch that much TV, but I especially go out of my way to avoid any of the corporate news channels or shows. Maybe a PBS news show, or BBC or something will be permitted to enter my brain -- but even that is pushing it. Those who watch these channels and programs, I ask you just to follow the money that is behind the content presented on these propaganda presentations. There is so much at stake to keep a certain demographic with a certain mindset and consequently, a specific worldview that is sympathetic to the kind of environment that benefits those that bankroll the television channel. If one comes by such an opinion honestly, that is one thing, but I am suspicious when I hear headlines right off the screen-ticker repeated back to me in everyday conversations.
Those who hold the opinion of the current administrations "soft" stance on (supposed and so called) terror are probably not paying attention to the ongoing and horrific drone strikes that have killed so many civilians in so many places in the world. Those that say Romney will destroy Medicare and all other such "entitlement" (I really hate that term, as it implies that those that are involved in such programs are inherently not deserving of whatever benefit they may be receiving. If anything, corporate welfare and defense budget check recipients should be referred to with such a term) programs most likely are not understanding that he is in a position to garner as many votes as he can right now, and his track record in Massachusetts says that most likely, he will be much more moderate than he wants his fanatical, right-wing, scripture-as-legislation crowd to hear, or think he will act as a President. At least, this has been the case for many election cycles now.
Okay, oops. I didn't mean for this to turn into another soap-box rant by yours truly, but instead I want to simply highlight the pleasure that comes from feeling like there is humanity in the world that exists outside our little bubble. Entertainment inevitably plays a part in forming this view of the outside world. So many of us, myself included, have strong opinions concerning people, places and situations that we ourselves don't experience, either at all or to such a small degree that to rely on a third party (thats right, I'm still looking at you, corporate funded news programs) to construct our opinions, is to place ourselves in a vulnerable position. We become susceptible to viewing others first as potential enemies, instead of potential family -- and, in general, this is what provides elevated ratings for news shows, and second, this is what allows politicians and their bank-rollers to rise to and maintain power; by divisiveness and fear (this is not to say that I believe that there is not issues that I find worthy of fear that face this nation, but, I almost never find these issues being discussed on any news program -- it is almost like there is a smoke screen being constantly put up so that we the people become disoriented as to what the real issues are.) If one truly believes that 47% of the people in this nation have no desire to earn an honest days wage, well, know that the red states are where an overwhelming percentage of this particular 47% live, and it is their votes that are keeping the those in power that have this opinion of them. Of course, I won't even mention that is the sweeping tax cuts during the Bush administration that allowed for so many's taxes to be slashed.
Aah! I'm sorry, it happened again. Alright, Northern Exposure is a world that allows for the kind old guy to get the young hot woman, and for that, "ditzy" young woman to show substantial insight and intelligence commiserate with a real person trying to live their life, and grow. It is a world where the "lead character" does not get the girl, and ends up fading away into obscurity. It is a world where extremely different cultures have dedicated events to learn each others etiquette, just because it is the right thing to do out of respect for their friends and neighbors. It is a word that has an astronaut as the richest person in town. It is a world that has people appreciate the sunshine when it is there, and likewise, appreciate the time of darkness that comes every winter. It is a world where there is a "Full Sail" Brewing company neon sign on the wall. It is a world where the biggest traffic jams arise when the Caribou make their way through town.
It is a world where the doctor actually lays his hands on his patient during a physical exam.