Friday, March 26, 2010

Sometimes television IS good for you . . .

By Lonnie Cruse

A friend was recently telling me (bragging, actually) about how badly she beat the contestants on a particular television game show she was watching. She couldn't believe they didn't know the answers, and she did know them. Well, she's been, um, watching television game shows! She was mourning the fact that she couldn't win the money that they could have. I don't blame her.

A lot of good information comes out of SOME of those shows. Not all, of course, but some. THE NEWLYWED GAME is NOT on my list of shows that improve the mind. ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER (which I happen to be watching at the moment, and like the contestant, I have NO clue to the question about the Treaty of Torteseaus, and did I even spell that right?) does give that kind of information. Stuff I probably learned in fifth grade and forgot by sixth. These game shows ask questions and give answers that increase our knowledge or remind us of information we could still use IF we ever get on a game show.

Other shows like Meerkat Manor educate us about animals we aren't likely to run across unless we go to the zoo. I got to seem some live Meerkats at the Santa Barbara Zoo in 2008. I love watching them. Animal Planet has tons of interesting stuff to watch. Discovery Channel, too.

Haven't read the classics? Often they aren't "right by the book" but for me, watching a Jane Austin movie is a bit easier than reading the book, and yes, I've done both. And listened to them on audio.

Want to re-do your bathroom? There are tons of home improvement shows that teach you how. More important, how not to.

Need to know more about the law? How about People's Court? Okay, I understand if you want to pass on that one, but I like it. On that note, don't expect some of the night time dramas to be correct about things like an autopsy, medical examiners, crime scenes, etc. They are dramas, after all.

Yep, television teaches us. A lot. Not all of it is bad. Unless, of course, you watch . . . oh never mind. Okay, what DO you watch that teaches you something and doesn't fry your brain cells with its nothingness?


Paul Lamb said...

I watch hardly any television at all, and I can't say I've missed it. Television talk shows and quiz shows always seemed good to me if you wanted to get really well informed about the really unimportant. There's only so much space in my brain, and I just don't feel like filing it with that kind of thing.

Sheila Connolly said...

I am an ardent Jeopardy fan, and of course I know more than the contestants (ha!). But I put my money where my mouth is--I actually try out for it. All that useless trivia I've been storing should be good for something.

One television factoid that I have treasured for decades: on Sea Hunt (remember that? How old was Jeff Bridges then?), I learned that water will slow a bullet. And Mission:Impossible presented all sorts of useful information, like how to make sand casts. Of course it's educational!

Sandra Parshall said...

Lonnie, your friend should apply for a spot on a game show. That's how non-celebrities get on them. I know someone who was on a game show -- she didn't do very well, but airfare and hotel expenses were paid for her and her husband, and most important, she had fun.

TV nature shows are fabulous. Another series started last Sunday on PBS. Unfortunately, David Attenborough's undoubtedly wonderful narration has been replaced by Oprah Winfrey's voice in the American version, but even so, it really is "must see" TV.

I'll never forget my favorite outtake from an Attenborough series (the outtake was shown on the Today Show, I believe). He was crouched in the forest in some remote corner of the world, whispering his narration about the extremely rare and always elusive bird species that lived in that forest but seldom allowed humans to glimpse it... and just then one of those famously shy birds marched right through the shot between Attenborough and the cameraman, no more than four or five feet from either but seemingly oblivious to their presence. Priceless. And I saw it on TV.

signlady217 said...

Gotta love "This Old House" and "Ask This Old House" on PBS. I love seeing what they are able to do to return these old places to at least part of their former glory, and getting good info on how to fix things.

Lonnie Cruse said...

Great shows, everyone! Thanks for the suggestions.