Television Feed

Standing Ovations

Last night the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences acted like the U. S. Congress during a State of the Union address--they kept jumping to their feet.

Remember the days when you could only guarantee two standing ovations during an Oscar telecast?  One for the Lifetime Achievement Award winner and one for some other aged or recently ill star who showed up to present an award.  On the rare occassion that a winner received a standing ovation it really meant something.

Now they stand for almost every performance and almost every winner.

But in this way they are like the general culture.  I remember as a kid that when a play, concert, or recital ended, there was simply applause, not standing.  Occassionally there was a standing ovation, but usually only at the final show in a run or when something especially moving had happened.  Now people stand for every performance.  It may not be a bad development, but it has lost its special meaning.

Oh, and on those Lifetime Achievement Oscars.  I miss the segment of the show where that award and the Jean Hersholt and Irving Thalberg Awards were given.  They've been missing for a few years now, having been moved to another night with their own dinner.  This was the part of the show that real film fans really enjoyed and was the least like the contemporary awards show, which is probably why it got axed.  

On one hand, I don't mind them moving them to a special event on another night, but I have minded that they don't broadcast that ceremony.

On the other hand, I do mind them being eliminated from the Oscar telecast.  As a kid it was during these segments that I first encountered Akira Kurosawa and Satyajit Ray.  It was a time to introduce some in the audience to the film arts that they may have never seen in their small town.

The Finale

*** Spoiler Alert ***

I found this episode satisfying.  Except that I would have enjoyed a final montage, watching the photo album close one last time, I thought that the conclusion of the episode was perfect.

I never liked Erica with Jackson anyway, so good riddance if that relationship is over.  Yay for Brooke and Adam.  I wanted that a long time ago.

As All My Children Comes to an End

As a kid in the 70's, I remember watching All My Children.  Though I only remember vague images and personalities.  What stood out was Tad as a child, which as a kid I picked up on, and the drama of his kidnapping by his father.  And I remember Phoebe Tyler Wallingford and her domineering personality.

Fast-forward to 1993 when I was home from college and working a summer job.  I would come home for lunch and my sister would be watching AMC.  I would sit and watch with her while eating lunch.  I started asking questions about who the characters were and what their stories were.  By the end of the summer I was hooked.

And that explains what was fun about AMC -- the characters that you cared about involved in captivating on-going stories.  Plus AMC didn't take itself seriously, it was always tongue-in-cheek in a way that the Young and the Restless, for instance, was not.

I watched AMC daily throughout the nineties.  If I wasn't hope, I taped it.  That's pretty much what my VCR was for in those days.  Sometimes, if I had had a busy week, my day off would be spent watching the week's worth of episodes, catching up.

What also made it fun was sharing it with friends -- either watching with them or talking, at length, about the show with them on the phone (this was before social networking).

In January 2002 I quit watching every day.  I felt the show had really declined in the years before that and that instead of focusing on developing the core stories, characters, and families, they were introducing too much that was new.  The quality just didn't seem to be there.  Being a Brooke fan, I was particularly annoyed with their constant, lame attempts to find her a new love interest.

In the decade since, I would watch occassionally when I was home, and usually felt the show was even worse, though I still enjoyed some of my favourite characters.  It seems that ratings had decline throughout the decade, so I was on the vanguard, I guess, of those fans abandoning it.

Knowing that the show was ending, last month I began to watch some.  I happened to catch the Leo-Greenlee episode when it was broadcast, and that was a great episode to watch.  Then I was trying to watch on-line.  I'd generally fastforward through all the current plot crap with characters I didn't care about (and even some with characters I did).  Then I fell out the habit again quickly, only to pick it back up the last two weeks.

It has been fun, even if outlandish, to see so many dead characters come back to life.  They've had some of our favourite old characters and actors back (the Sarah Michelle Gellar scenes were fun), but fewer than I had hoped.  The clip montages have been really lame -- they used to do great clip shows during anniversary celebrations.  All the sets are unfamiliar, rather than the iconic homes that we had watched for decades.  I'm really not interested in how they are wrapping up current plots and feel that they should have done more to celebrate and remind us of the stories of the last forty years.

So, today I will be ready.  I'll be sitting here eating lunch and watching.  And I bought some champagne to toast the show.

Mr. Rogers, grace, and God

A great essay on the grace-filled life of Mr. Rogers.  Do read it.  I liked this paragraph:

But Fred was not there to dispense lessons and rules. He was there to be a grace note in children's lives. Fred understood the power of grace -- how a shower of affirmation nurtures the yearning to be even more of our likable selves, something criticism and exhortation rarely accomplish.


A few years ago when I read the book City on a Hill, which was a history of the American sermon, it argued that the American sermon is not just something one hears in church, that the Presidential Inaugural Address, for instance, is basically a form a secular sermon.  The very title City on a Hill draws from Winthrop's sermon that was later used in political addresses by John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin, etc.

Today, watching Oprah's final episode, I was impressed by how it was, basically, a sermon.  At least significant parts of the show were sermonic in nature.  An entire section was specifically religious, as she addressed her theology, her view of God. 

The show was filled with the sort of spiritual and quasi-religious statements she had become famous for (Futurama predicted that in the future the major religion would be "Oprahism.").  And much of it was something I could agree with.  Many of her encouraging words are good advice.  There was an entire section of her address, when she was talking about call, that I could use in my sermon this coming Sunday which will cover some of the same topics.

It was an impressive hour of television, unlike anything I've ever seen before.  But, then, that's something she is also known for.