Hello, blog! I know I was gone for a little while there, but I’m back now, and I missed you. It was a great vacation, but I learned that it’s essentially impossible to write anything while perpetually surrounded by huge gleaming surfaces on which one can cook many things at the same time. And let’s be honest, if I had to take some time off from constant TV-blogging, the last few weeks were a pretty great time to do it. There was nothing on. I would scan down the night’s TV guide and when presented a variety of action movies, Jersey Shore marathons, and a few scattered episodes of King of Queens, I’d just abandon the whole venture. Seriously, it was bleak.
Things are looking up, though. January is going to be a good month for new television, and I am super excited about a lot of the shows coming out over the next few weeks. Big Love, Damages, LOST, 24, Burn Notice, Caprica, and did I mention Chuck?! There will also be several newcomers, including a new FOX show called Human Target, which I know nothing about except for the millions of ads plastering the NY Subway system. So, blog ahoy.
Before jumping ahead into the midseason premieres, I want to mention one television experience of note over my break. After discovering that the day’s tickets for the Tim Burton retrospective at the MOMA were sold out, my family and I ended up wandering around looking for something to do, and ducked into what was anachronistically labeled the Museum of Television and Radio on my sister’s NYC map. We soon learned that the museum is now defunct, but is now the site of the Paley Center for Media. We walked in, headed up to the front desk, and the woman behind it started to explain what the Paley Center is all about. “This isn’t like a regular museum,” she said. “This is mostly a museum where you’ll sit and watch television.”
I know. I nearly laughed out loud. The building is full of screening rooms where they play a variety of historical and otherwise notable material from their archives, and a scan of that day’s schedule offered everything from the candy conveyor belt episode of I Love Lucy, to a special on great television moments of the last forty years, to an episode of the original Batman featuring Julie Newmar as Catwoman, to a showcase of Super Bowl commercials. We ended up ducking into the pilot of Bewitched, where Samantha waits until their wedding night to tell Darrin she’s a witch, vows to give up witchcraft for good, and then inevitably succumbs to temptation and terrorizes an awful woman who invites them both to a dinner party. The episode is pretty cheesy, and there are some seriously stilted timing issues where Samantha wrinkles her nose and then it takes a surprisingly long time for the door to fly open. Still, the experience held up quite well even once you consider that you can just watch that same pilot episode from the comfort of your couch – sitting in a screening room and watching it in the context of a museum makes you think about it a little differently.
The other great thing about the Paley Center is their enormous collection of archived television, which you can browse and watch whatever you like for an hour and a half in their fourth-floor library. Among other things, I flicked through an episode of The Muppet Show with John Cleese as the guest star, an old episode of The Defenders (because they talk about it on Mad Men), and the Chinese restaurant episode of Seinfeld. My mom got caught up in a decades-old documentary about school life. I saw someone next to me engrossed in My So-Called Life.
If you’re ever in New York and feel a hankering for some television, the Paley Center is the place to go. It’s an amazing resource for any kind of television you can imagine, and probably innumerable things you would never even think of.