Monday, February 11, 2008


Even though I don't have cable, I can catch enough television online to be pretty aware of what's going on. Lately I've noticed that television has become quirkier. I'm not anti-quirk, by any means. I loved Twin Peaks back in the day, and really liked some short-lived shows like Wonderfalls and Joan of Arcadia, which each had a supernatural quirk. While I liked them, mainstream audiences thought they were too weird and they were canceled.

I'm not sure what changed, but now this stuff is all the rage. These days, it seems like half the programs on television are mining this trope. Pushing Daisies has a guy who can bring back the dead with one touch, and kill them forever with a second. Chuck has a guy who downloaded a supercomputer into his brain (remember Jake 2.0 and his nanites?). Reaper is about a kid whose parents sold his soul to the devil. Don't forget Heroes, which is populated with all manner of folks with special powers. And now Eli Stone has a lawyer who sees visions that lead him to help his clients, perhaps thanks to a brain aneurysm (is that what was wrong with Ally McBeal, too?).

What's going on here? And why can't I enjoy this new crop of quirky entertainment? It only seems to work for me when it fits into sci-fi/fantasy or spy genres. So yes, I like Chuck. Heroes was good at first, though it's become ponderous lately. But the rest of it gets on my nerves. I'm not talking about dramas like Medium, where the supernatural element is played straight. Too bad Journeyman was so boring, because that could have been kind of cool. What bothers me is the wink-wink quirkiness that seems designed to show how cool and clever the writers are. It's a tone issue, I think, and it makes me crazy. I can hardly stand Ugly Betty for this reason.

So I've been watching trashy soaps instead, like Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle because they have new episodes and to fill the void left by Dirty Sexy Money. And that's also unsatisfying, in a different way. If there's a point all this, I can't remember it.


Anonymous said...

I think you're confusing "quirky" with "fantasy" (or SF, depending on your definition). Pushing Daisies, for instance, would have to be considered quirky by most anyone's definition. Fantastic too, but definitely quirky. Heroes I don't think one can reasonably call quirky. Fantastic, sure, but (with the possible exception of some of Hiro's antics), it's not quirky, twee, or off-beat. In fact, it's tageted directly on Middle America.

Kaijsa said...

I agree with you, actually. I meant to say that the supernatural stuff works for fantasy shows, but is often precious and quirky in other shows. I was being unclear, I think.

Twee is definitely the word I was looking for, though. Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone are twee.