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When I was a young child I really enjoyed my Saturday morning cartoons, and my weekly fix of Happy Days or Eight is Enough. In junior high I usually slept in on Saturdays and weekend nights brought The Love Boat and Fantasy Island, and of course, Dallas. As for daytime TV, I never really took to soap operas (though I’ll confess to a season or two of General Hospital during the infamous “Luke and Laura” period). During high school and college watching TV was not a big priority, and anyway, there was really nothing very good or interesting to watch and who had the time?

In grad school I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. While the movie of the same name was very bad, the TV series was smart and funny and cheeky. And it looked good–not like it was filmed on some ancient handheld videotape recorder. Somehow it made the idea that vampires and demons could be an “everyday” problem seem completely possible.

Since then, TV has come a long way.  And I have become a fan of more TV series in my adulthood than I ever followed as a child. What has struck me most of all is that the TV of my youth and adolescence was entertaining, at best; and that’s about it. Today’s TV is entertaining, but also witty, insightful, and even somewhat educational. Now I don’t advocate using the TV to homeschool or babysit a child, but there are some lessons we grown-ups can learn from time to time. Luckily, with DVRs, Hulu, Netflix, and the internet in general, I don’t have to sacrifice socializing with actual live people, waste time on commercials, or watch on someone else’s schedule. I’ve gleaned from the following pearls of wisdom from my DVR programs, Hulu subscriptions, and Netflix queue. Now I will share them with you.

Feel free to comment and share any words of wisdom you’ve picked up in your own channel surfing.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

You never know when you will be called to fight in life and no matter how prepared you may be, it can always take you by surprise. So speak softly and carry a big stick . . . or stake, as the case may be.

Law & Order
Law & Order, Special Victims Unit
Law & Order, Criminal Intent

Whether it’s the original Law & Order, the Special Victims Unit, or the Criminal Intent franchises, I always enjoy watching New York’s finest at their best. It’s a neverending battle against crime in any big city, but the police and DAs keep on fighting. The takeaway? Even if the odds of winning are slim it really does matter that you do the right thing.



The severe case of OCD that plagues detective Adrian Monk is at times crippling, preventing him from living what most would call a “normal” life. These same idiosyncrasies, however are often what lead him to the clues that elude the police detectives with whom he works, and usually solve the case. Moral of the story? With a different focus, our weaknesses have the potential to be among our greatest strengths.


House M.D.

Much like Monk, Dr. Gregory House is eccentric, brilliant, and usually right. But he is also, rude, selfish, inappropriate, manipulative, disrespectful, offensive, and brutally honest. Granted, he can also be very funny and charming (OK, I have a little House crush). Despite all his negative attributes, he commands respect, has loyal friends, and his brilliant medical mind is called upon to solve the most puzzling medical mysteries, saving lives in the process.  So if you want to walk around acting like an arrogant jerk, just make sure you have something to be arrogant about–even better if it’s a positive contribution to society. Oh, and everybody lies–just not all the time.


This series is like a train wreck–macabre, and yet. . . I can’t seem to look away. I don’t enjoy the later seasons as much as the earlier ones, but still one thing rings through in each and every episode: You can change every single physical and outward aspect of yourself, but you will still be the same person inside.


Lie to Me

In this drama Tim Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman, who runs the very lucrative Lightman Group. He and his colleagues consult for various private parties and law enforcement agencies who hire them to “read” people and get to the truth of a situation. Reading body language, microexpressions, and using psychology they can tell definitively when someone is being honest and when they are hiding something. They read people’s interactions with one another and decipher all of the barely noticeable “tells” that we all show, everyday. No matter what lies we may tell–even to ourselves–actions speak  louder than words and the truth will always come out.



This legal drama was never at a loss for plot twists. Everyone’s actions and motives were constantly surprising you and definitely kept you guessing–wondering who the good guys actually were. Whatever side you chose on this corporate battlefield one rule of thumb should always be remembered: Know your enemy.


Burn Notice

This show has something for everyone–action, drama, comedy, family, romance, and lots of guns and explosions. The story revolves around a burned (blackballed) spy trying to work his way back into the game with the help of his gun-running on-again/off-again girlfriend and his former FBI-agent best friend, all the while rebuilding his relationship with his estranged mother and brother in Miami and acting as a modern day Robin Hood. Here’s a tip from the merry gang: at times nothing is more effective than a little strategically placed c-4.  😉


Dirty Sexy Money

A short-lived series, this 21st century Dynasty follows the family lawyer for the billionaire New York family, the Darlings (really, that’s their name). It had a great cast and was definitely entertaining, I’m sorry it didn’t last longer. But it was out there long enough to be a reminder of one thing. Being wildly wealthy doesn’t really protect you from anything.


A fake psychic detective agency run by two best friends. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? It is. Especially when you toss in the other quirky characters in this mystery/comedy/drama. No matter what the case at hand, you can count on this motley crew of crime-fighters to be on the case, and to have as much fun as possible while they’re at it. Often it is this sense of humor which helps clear the way to to a solution. Take time to smell the roses in life? Yes. But also remember never to take yourself, or life, too seriously.


Ah . . . Dexter. Everyone’s favorite serial killer. Ok, maybe not everyone’s, but I like him. When not at work with the police department’s crime lab in Miami, Dexter enjoys grilling out, bowling, and killing murderers. In this way, he’s almost a quiet superhero. Otherwise, he lives a rather unremarkable, normal life, never hinting at this very dark side. A reminder that we are all both good and evil inside. It’s up to us what we do with these qualities.


Fairly Legal

This is a great new show which puts a whole new  spin on the legal drama. Following a charming and quirky mediator (played by the lovely Sarah Shahi) through courtrooms and boardrooms–and prisons and corner grocery stores–as she finds true justice for all involved. She’s TV’s latest superhero. Everyone can win–it just takes a little compromise.


It’s probably obvious by now that I am a fan of the mystery/crime genre. Guilty. (Pun intended.) I can’t seem to help it, I like the good vs. evil; and on TV, good usually wins. I like that too. What makes Castle fun for me is the combination of  “ruggedly handsome” Richard Castle, best-selling mystery novelist, with NYPD’s detective Beckett. She’s smart and resourceful and did just fine before Castle turned up. But even she must, however reluctantly, admit that he’s helped solve quite a few through his literary plotting. We should all take a page from this book (okay, okay–pun intended again) and remember to keep an open mind to new ideas–regardless of the source.



Normally, I’m not a big sci-fi fan. But for some reason, Fringe intrigued me right from the start. I’m not quite sure why, but I know that one of the things that keeps me watching is the idea that an alternate and parallel universe does, in fact, exist. Where everything is the same–but different. The idea that maybe the “other” me is over there doing other things–or the same things–that I am is curious. I wonder what she’s accomplished more than I. What has she not done that I have? Just fleeting thoughts these, but for the hour of each episode I believe that anything really is possible.



2 thoughts on “The Wisdom of TV

  1. You really MUST watch “Glee”! It is all of the words that you used to describe current television and then some. It is for young and old (though I choke a bit when I say that), and the music is amazing!

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