The Joys of Great TV

No, that is not an oxymoron. There is some great TV out there and I’ve been watching it, thanks to Netflix. A couple of weeks ago I watched the last disk of the last season of Frasier, so now I’ve watched the entire series from the beginning. When it was on originally, we didn’t have cable and couldn’t pick up an NBC station with the antenna, so had only seen occasional episodes of the series. But I always liked it and wished I could start at the beginning. Now that I’ve finished the series, I’m glad I got to watch it. (And in case you’re interested, I started in February 2008.) It really is excellent situation comedy. I think Frasier ranks right up there with my other favorite sitcom, The Dick VanDyke Show. In both shows, the humor is timeless because it’s based on the characters and their interaction with each other. In both, the writing was good and the cast was perfect. And both shows are really, really funny. Frasier was on longer than Dick VanDyke, and some seasons were better than others, but it finished strong.

I’ve also been watching Lost. Yes, I know, the last season is about to start so I’m coming very late the Lost party. But, boy, is it good. I’m almost through the second season (fortunately it’s available to watch instantly on Netflix, so no waiting for disks to arrive). I’ve also watched some summary episodes so I kind of know what’s been happening in the other seasons, but I’m still going to watch it all. A summary can hit the high spots, but it doesn’t give you those “a-ha!” moments when you see another connection between characters or another mystery is revealed. Lost is another good example of well-drawn characters and good writing. I’ve noticed that the second season has slowed down some in the middle, sort of treading water, but it’s picking up again toward the end. It’s hard to sustain that kind of show over 20 plus episodes. But I think the other seasons are shorter, which will probably mean they’re a little tighter. Even at it’s worst, though, Lost is very good and I’m enjoying it a lot.

I think, at least for me, Frasier and Lost have something in common. They’re both shows that revolve around well-written characters. They’re complex, layered, and they grow and change. Frasier Crane, though he seems pompous and arrogant, is also insecure and just wants to love and be loved. At the start of the series he and his dad barely tolerate each other, but as the years pass, they learn to appreciate each other and value their differences. On Lost, the characters are developing as well, though the time frame is shorter. On the face of it, Jack and Sawyer seem to be opposites. And in some ways they are. But both are more complex than the sterotypical good guy and bad guy. They are each driven by their own personal demons. While I’ve liked Jack from the start, I’m starting to appreciate Sawyer more, too. And Locke is an enigma. Sometimes I like him, and sometimes I don’t think anyone should trust him. So it’s fun to see how the story has developed and how the characters respond to their circumstances. Lost involves more of a time investment and not everyone likes this kind of complicated, long-term story. But my favorite novel is The Lord of the Rings, so I think I’m up for it.

Good news and basketball

A couple things.

First, I’m excited about a volunteer opportunity that has come my way. As Coach Culbertson announced last week, I’m the new layout editor for Relief Journal. This is very cool. (And, apparently, I’m continuing a tradition of Coach’s Midnight Diner authors who like to volunteer to work for Relief.) I’ve worked in journalism for nearly 20 years and a good bit of my experience involves page design and layout. So I think I have some skills that could be useful to a publication like Relief. Sure, I do this in my day job, but I’ve been praying about and keeping my eyes open for opportunities to use these talents for God in some way. So when Coach put out a call for a layout editor a few weeks ago, I fired off an e-mail before I could lose my nerve. Now I get to layout something like 170 pages between now and early May. A little scary and but I’m looking forward to it. And I’m helping a good cause.

I’ve also been putting together an annual report for the Midwest Covenant Conference Women Ministries (I’m on the board) and that’s been fun, too. It’s short and it’s almost done and I think it looks pretty good. A few more tweaks and it’ll be ready for printing.

Now on to basketball. Yes, the time has come for me to give myself over to the madness that is the NCAA tournament. I’ve made my bracket picks, knowing full well that my bracket will be shot to pieces before the first round is over. But it’s fun anyway. For once, I have not picked KU to win it all this year — they’re good, but I’m not confident they can do it this year. K-State’s men’s team is in the NIT and K-State’s women’s team is in the NCAA tournament, so I’ll have multiple teams to cheer for.

And one more thing — it is definitely feeling more like spring outside and that’s a very good thing.