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Pickle Me This

September 10, 2009

Television saved my life

Though I’ve always been partial to television, its tendency to consume my evenings whole meant that I’ve kept my distance from it these last few years. I also don’t have cable, which definitely helps with this. (Further, I hate commericals, which is why I love Midsomer Murders on TV Ontario, also because MM is the best show ever.)

But this summer, it’s true that television saved my life. First, when a friend lent us her Series 1 and 2 DVDs of 30 Rock in late June, and though we’d have to turn it up loud to be heard over the baby’s screaming, each episode provided us with a little bit of lightness every evening. And though I went into the show with Liz Lemon’s character appealing to me most, I was surprised to find that Tracy Jordan became my favourite. In every episode, he’d utter a line that would completely surprise me, and turn my idea of who he was inside out. His complete lack of conformity (to anything) made him always fresh and interesting, bizarre and hysterical. ThoughI do continue to worship at the alter of Tina Fey. (Naturally. I’m a girl with glasses).

The other show I’ve watched, and the one I appreciated the most, however, is CBC’s Being Erica. Which does appeal by its Toronto location (and Jessica Westhead reference– see Pulpy & Midge behind Erica’s desk. This is one bookish show). I’d almost given up on liking Canadian television, as every show I tried to watch was usually terrible, but I had heard good things about this one, and the series was being rerun for the summer. (I also liked that I could watch it online whenever I wanted.) It’s a show with a gimmick (girl goes back in time to learn lessons from her past), but the gimmick was never the point for me.

For me, the part of the hook was half-decent acting from most of the cast. (Most of the cast– some do act like actors on Canadian TV series, but this is a Canadian TV series after all.) A really wonderful soundtrack that catered to my nostalgic side whenever Erica went back to high school. And pretty fantastic writing that veered towards the unexpected. (I also liked it when Erica enquired whether her going back in time to change the past would disrupt the space-time continuum, as you do, and he informed her that her overall impact on the universe was not quite that extensive.)

I put Erica to the test in a recent episode, where Erica is at the movies with her pregnant friend. Friend has to go to the bathroom, but can’t get out from her seat, and just before the show breaks for commercial, water splooshes all over the floor. “If she’s wet her pants instead of having her water break, therefore defying all television convention,” I said, “then this is the best show ever”. (It was a water splooshing all over the floor moment that had me sure I was never again going to watch Sophie, a previous Canadian show I’d tried to like). And back from commerical, Erica won!

Now, full disclosure, Judith’s water did go sploosh later in the ‘sode, but I’m still giving credit. This show isn’t perfect, but it’s a million times better than most of the other stuff on TV. It’s immensely entertaining, and I look forward to Season Two in a couple of weeks.

7 thoughts on “Television saved my life”

  1. Britt Gullick says:

    I'm with you on every level… first, as a cable-free person myself, I have loved having access to Being Erica online (TWO friends recommended that I watch it, which, being a show about a single, underemployed, angst-filled 30 something made me slightly worried). I wondered if it was going to try to teach me lessons about how to be happy despite it all, but thankfully, it didn't really try to. I can't help but cringe a little at the acting job by the dude who plays Ethan, but otherwise, it's not too shabby! I also liked Dr. Tom's quote of Leonard Cohen: It's the ones who've cracked that the light shines through. That actually made me think.

    Who ever thought I could enjoy a show that featured unexplained time travel?

    Also, LOVE Tracey Morgan in 30 Rock. So hilarious.

  2. Stu says:

    I love this post so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

  3. Jennie says:

    And this is why we are all friends…

  4. Trish says:

    I agree with you tenfold. Being Erica is the best thing that's happened to Canadian TV in quite a while. Plus, it doesn't hurt that I live three houses down from the school where they film Erica's high school scenes (in Bloor West Village). Always exciting to see the film crews.

    I, like you, do not have cable, so I have to rely on things I download/watch online, which makes me a much pickier TV show-watcher. Maybe that's why I watch so much HBO?

  5. JK says:

    I love it too! I got sick in the spring and watched the entire season in a couple days. I always tell people how real it feels (usually before I tell them about the time travel).

    I'm also a cable-free, picky TV watcher, and the only other smart, Canadian TV that I've ever fallen in love with is Slings & Arrows – you can still watch the first couple seasons (6 episodes each) on YouTube!

  6. patricia says:

    Don't even have basic cable, just rabbit ears, and most nights I'm too busy to catch TV. I've seen the show a couple times, and thought it was intriguing (but I still miss 'This is Wonderland', which never should have been dropped!)

    What I really enjoy about the show is watching the therapist played by Michael Riley, because I went to high school with him (even acted with him, in a very silly children's play, in which I was a character named 'PJ Pickles). Whenever I see Micheal doing what he does best, I'm thrilled.

  7. Kerry says:

    Oooh, a show a lot of people like! Bad news– that means CBC is going to cancel it. It's what they do.

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