Monday, April 26, 2010

A Portal to Another World

There’s something about watching TV or reading a book that take us out of ourselves for a little while. For however long the show or book lasts we are removed a space from our own problems and trials.

I personally love mysteries because of the extra layer of engagement. Or it might possibly be my competitive nature, but I do love trying to figure out whodunit.

Luckily there are some great mystery shows on TV right now. My favorites:

Castle-As a writer this is especially fun for me. Love the chemistry between Beckett and Castle too. Overall, the show reminds me a bit of Remington Steele, which I discovered at the library, but also love.

Psych-So. Much. Fun. I love the goofy, offbeat humor and the cast are all great. Pure escapism and the concept sets the show up for all kinds of interesting story lines.

White Collar-Two words—Matt Bomer. What’s not to love? Again, it’s probably not a ‘real life’ scenario, but I love the concept and I also liked the interplay between the characters. It’s a buddy movie for the small screen.

Some others that have been favorites at our house: In Plain Sight, Monk, (sadly no longer with us. sniff, sniff) Law and Order (before there were a billion of them).

As much as I like to watch my favorite shows though, there is something about a book that transcends the medium of TV. At least for me. Being me, I’ve tried to analyze what the difference is and for me at least I think it boils down to this. I have to work harder at reading.

What I mean is that watching TV is passive. Reading, however is active in that I have to supply the images and voices and scenery myself. Oh, sure the authors help a little. They describe things, but I can pretty much guarantee that the complete picture I paint is going to be very different from what others ‘see’ in their heads. Just look at any movie adaptation for the screen. Was it exactly what you expected?

But here’s the thing, in direct proportion to the level of engagement I have in reading the story I am more fully plunged into a parallel universe where the characters’ experiences become mine.

We talked a little bit on Friday about the future and one of the inventions many of us were looking forward to is the Time Travel machine. I would contend we already have a pretty good device for that in the historical novel. Books also work well as teleporters. They fall down on the job when it comes to replicators though. You know those machines that make the food. The problem is that I can see and smell the food, and almost taste it. But sadly it doesn’t fill me up, and in actual fact often leaves me with severe cravings.

So time to hear from all of you. Do you agree with my assessment? And if so what is one of the best books you’ve read lately? How far down the rabbit hole did it lead you? I forget where I am sometimes when I’m reading.

Conversely what are some of your favorite TV shows? If you don't like mysteries what is your favorite flavor?


  1. Wow, crickets are chirping in Inktropolis today. I'm afraid I got the post up too late. To make up for it there are pumpkin muffins, cheesecake bars, and fresh fruit at the breakfast bar. There's also coffee with all the trimmings and Matt Bomer volunteered to act as barista as a special favor to me for plugging his TV series. ENJOY!

  2. I'm here, Lisa. I'm here. I went grocery shopping this morning.

    I agree that nothing beats a book for fully immersing yourself in a story. I also feel like I get to make a lot of the "choices" when I read in just how things should look and sound. I enjoy that. And I get a good 10-20 hours out of a book. Movies don't cut it for me at all. They just aren't long enough to get into the heads of the characters. I prefer television series to movies for this reason.

    I also like some of the reality television shows. I feel like I'm meeting a whole new set of interesting people. Great for character studies.

    As for mysteries, my version is House. I love solving medical mysteries. If this writing thing doesn't work out for me, maybe I'll become a diagnostician.

    Or why not a quantum physicist while I'm at it ;)

  3. Sorry I'm late. I was stuffing my face with those pumpkin muffins you brought, Lisa.

    Great post, and some thought-provoking questions! For me, TV offers a bit of escapism. Reading does offer the same, but something more. I love being in the parallel universe of a novel.

    Psych and Castle are two of my favorite shows. They don't stress me out and they crack me up. My only issue with Castle (and it's tongue in cheek) is how easily he can sit down at his computer, whip something up, get interrupted, sit back down, smile, keep writing best-selling brilliance. And his desk is so neat and tidy. Maybe that's my problem...hmm. :-)

  4. Thinking through some of your thoughts, Lisa, I had to laugh when Murder She Wrote came to mind. Who would want to be Jessica Fletcher's friend? Do you know anyone who seems to come across a murder once a week? Yikes!

    Great food today. Give me the calorie counts on those and that will help me stay clear...

    I'll have to wait for the days when someone brings up the tv shows I used to watch. Hey, can we have a Magnum PI day here?
    Actually I hear a lot about these shows you've mentioned. They sound great.

  5. Great point, Dina. Nothing like a reality show for finding out what people are really like under pressure. Hmm, I'm sure there's got to be a murder mystery out there with that kind of setting.

    Suzie, you're so right. How can we not just be a little jealous of Castle. I mean, come on. Did you see that episode with his book opening/signing. There was an actual red carpet for heaven's sake!

    Deb, sometimes it's better not to know certain things. Calorie count is one of them. And I have to confess, I love the old mysteries too. I actually have at home right now, original episodes of Murder She Wrote, Charlie's Angels and Mission Impossible from the library.

  6. Oh, hey I meant this post originally to be about romance in TV shows. But then plans changed and I could not for the life of me remember what I had meant to post about. Do any of you remember the old Hart to Hart show? The uber-rich and stylish married couple that were madly in love with one another and used to solve mysteries together.

    Why is it that nobody can be married any more? It's as if life ends with "I do." Would love your all's thought on that.

  7. These days television shows grab me by accident. I became a fan of Law & Order some 15 years ago because it was the only thing decent on at 3AM when my newborn woke up nightly.

    Today, it's Criminal Minds because I found myself in a situation with limited channels and it was the only thing intriguing, after I couldn't take the news channels anymore.

    TV is mostly a backdrop while I read, cook, walk on the treadmill or ride the stationary bike. I enjoy House, and still love L&O. But mostly I watch reality TV -- American Idol, most HGTV and Food Network shows, The Biggest Loser, etc. Don't like the contrived ones, like Survivor, Amazing Race, or The Bachelor/Bachelorette, though.

    PS -- I'm a sucker for a good I Love Lucy or Cosby Show rerun.

  8. Oh I forgot...

    I can't leave out sports -- March Madness, the Yankees, NBA playoffs, the Olympics. Something about the competition and rooting for the underdog works for me.

  9. Patricia, I love the Olympics. Everything kind of grinds to a halt around our house when their on. Luckily it only happens every two years! It's amazing how interested I can become in sports I've never heard of before.

    Oh and I can so relate to coming upon shows by accident. Actually I do that sometimes with shows that aren't really great, but it's like a train wreck, nothing good is happening but you can't seem to tear your eyes away.

  10. Lisa, I've run into a few of those, like Celebrity Fit Club when Dustin Diamond (I think that's his name) who played Screech on Saved by the Bell was on there.

    Not to mention a few not-funny-at-all sitcoms.

  11. Lisa, I love all the shows you mentioned in the blog - another good one is Leverage - although it's more of a "Oceans 11" genre. It's great fun to figure out how they're going to get themselves out of the crazy scenario they've created.

  12. Lisa, thanks for bringing breakfast :-) Pumpkin muffins? I assume they're sweet, like pumpkin pie? BTW, I have tasted pumpkin pie - very yummy!

    I hadn't thought about tv viewing as passive vs. reading a book as active - this makes a lot of sense and explains why I become more invested in books than movies.

  13. Narelle, you've never had pumpkin muffins? I must make some for you next time you come to the US for a conference. Pumpkin muffins. Yum!

    Lisa, I loved this post. Loved it! Monk is my absolute hands-down favorite show. Then comes Quantum Leap, Star Trek Next Generation, White Collar, Castle, Drop Dead Diva... Sigh... me thinks I watch way too much tv.

  14. Sorry to get to the party late. There are only crumbs left, which is better for my waistline, anyway :+}

    Lisa, yes, I remember Hart to Hart. We watched every episode! Do you remember Ellery Queen with Jim Hutton? That was quite a fun show, too.

    My tastes right now run toward crime shows. I love Castle and Bones. I also enjoyed Lie to Me and hope it comes back in the fall. Oh, and of course, my number one show right now is LOST... but there are very few episodes left. I'm hoping I don't go through withdrawls.

    I enjoy reality shows where people have to have some kind of skill (in other words, The Bachelor is not on my "must record" list). My favorites are So You Think You Can Dance, Survivor, and American Idol. Okay, I'll stop now. I could talk TV all night...

  15. Maquis, I love Leverage. That sort of 'caper' show is right up my alley! I can't believe I forgot to mention it. My only wish is that it weren't on Wednesday night. We have church, so I have to race home to catch it. ;o)

  16. Hey Suzie. My MIL loves Quantum Leap but I don't think I've ever seen it. I'm with you on the others though. And if you watch too much TV... well we're in the same boat.

    Drop Dead Diva has an interesting set-up. And I like the fact that they used a human sized woman in a show for once!

  17. Narelle! Say it ain't so!! Pumpkin Muffins are delish. We'll definitely have to get you some when you're here. Panera has the best I think. (Although I can be bought. If anyone wants to provide samples for a taste test, I'm willing to be proven wrong.)

    And yes they taste a bit like pumpkin pie. Moist and tender with cinnamon and allspice. And streusel on top.

    Jen, I hope this doesn't affect our friendship, but I never did get Lost. I came to it too late I think. By the 3rd season there was no figuring out what had already happened, much less what was going on or even who the player were. Although that might just be endemic to the show from what I understand!

  18. Lisa, you have to get Lost from the video store and watch it from the beginning. Everyone who does gets hooked.

    But we sort of have a love/hate relationship with Lost at our house. We never miss an episode and we talk about it all the time, but half of our talk is complaining about the way they keep raising questions and never answering them. Thus the addiction.

    Now with only four episodes left, we're finally getting some answers. What a relief.

    I've noticed my daughter and Gina's son have become Lost discussion buddies on facebook. They come up with some crazy theories.

  19. I might do that, Dina. If only to see what all the hype is about. But I think I'm going to wait until I find out whether people like the ending. I do not want to invest all that time if it doesn't end well!!


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