- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 16, 2003

TV DOA

“The special-effects company that specializes in manufacturing dead bodies is reportedly working overtime to meet the burgeoning demand from TV production companies for severed heads, amputated limbs, mutilated torsos, and autopsy models.

“Whereas violence implies conflict and people fighting, the new way for TV to be scary is to show grisly images of dead bodies and parts of bodies.

“The pioneer of corpse TV is ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,’ the nation’s top-rated show. ‘CSI,’ along with its top-10 spin-off ‘CSI: Miami,’ is about police and medical investigators solving crimes through forensic science.

“To their credit, the ‘CSI’ shows are absorbing dramas, and the unsqueamish can actually learn some things about scientific evidence. But with its gruesome crime scenes, graphic autopsies and sensationalistic topics … this most popular program in America has recently been branded by the Parents Television Council the least family-friendly show on TV. …

“Having desensitized its viewers to violence, TV is now desensitizing its viewers to death.”

Gene Edward Veith, writing on “Corpse TV,” in the Nov. 22 issue of World

Faith in self-esteem

“A few years ago, while visiting college campuses with my son, I witnessed an odd but recurring phenomenon: Our student guide would be showing us around a beautiful New England campus — all arches and spires and ivy — when we would abruptly stop in front of a building of incredible ugliness. …

“‘Oh, this,’ the guide would say with a cringing gesture. ‘It was built in the early ‘70s. We try not to notice.’

“Such moments of cultural dissonance come to mind while reading Mark Oppenheimer’s ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ … a study of the effect of the 1960s and early 1970s on our relationship with God.

“According to Mr. Oppenheimer, most Americans did not respond to that era’s cultural upheavals by joining ashrams or doing [transcendental mediation]. Rather, they brought the revolution into their churches and synagogues. And the results were striking: radical lesbian Episcopalian priests, Catholic Masses that sounded like Peter, Paul and Mary concerts, and Unitarians channeling whatever the Zeitgeist had to offer. …

“[A]n increasing number of [worshippers] began to treat their faith primarily as an exercise in self-esteem. … By the late 1960s many Jews and Christians had managed to domesticate God into an affirmer of personal preferences.”

George Sim Johnston, writing on “Palestrina Was Not in Vogue,” Thursday in the Wall Street Journal

Dead end

“The loss of John Ritter — his shocking death in September at age 54 — was felt anew with the return of ‘8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter’ on Nov. 4. What was intended to be a touching, expanded hourlong edition of the sitcom … proved to be an awkward botch.

“It did Ritter’s ebullient spirit no great honor to have his co-stars slog through a weepy installment of the comedy. … This episode only emphasized what a mediocre show ‘8 Simple Rules’ was whenever Ritter wasn’t on camera. …

“Continuing with ‘8 Simple Rules’ so it can get back to laugh-tracked yuks about how trampy Bridget is — that’s no way to salute John Ritter, or for ABC to pull in ratings they can live with.”

Ken Tucker, writing on “Pain and ‘Simple,’” in the Nov. 14 issue of Entertainment Weekly


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