I was thinking about dropping cable a while ago, but still haven’t pulled the trigger. If anything, I’m watching more shows.
House — A medical drama featuring an ascerbic doctor and his staff. I am supremely uninterested in most dramas of any kind, particularly medical ones, but I added this show to my Tivo when someone on the Boston Flash Platform Users Group list mentioned that this was the only TV show about debugging. And lo, so it is!
Jamie Oliver’s School Lunch Project — I used to think of Jamie Oliver as the “naked chef” on the Food Network that all the women would swoon over. I assumed he was some flashy glam chef, but after getting sucked into his documentary about Fifteen, I completely came around…he’s passionate about what he does, and driven to do the right thing. He totally kicks ass, from what I can tell. He doesn’t just talk either: shocked at how terrible school lunches are in the UK, he spent a year and a half trying to introduce healthier food by getting in the kitchen himself. How do you serve a healthy, tasty meal to kids who love processed food for the equivalent of 65 cents a meal? It’s an inspiring and thought-provoking show on many levels.
Shalom in the Home — A Jewish friend was telling me a story that revolved around the daughter of a rabbi, and I didn’t get the punchline. And then a little later I was talking to Nathan and he pointed me to some interesting Christian websites as a tool for outreach; I had no idea how technologically savvy churches are these days. The combination of the two experiences has renewed an interest in comparative religion, and since I have no idea what a rabbi does, I’ve started watching this show. The guy apparently drives around the countryside in a cool trailer and helps people with their family problems; I totally dig the trailer! Freelance designer! Have trailer! Will work on site anywhere!
American Inventor — As someone who’s interested in developing product for the marketplace, this show provides me with insight on pitching, markets, and the effect of personal character on success. However, a friend of mine (a patent attorney) gets powerfully irritated by the program because it raises false expectations; she said that the first year the show aired, she got an increase in calls from people who wanted to cash in their inventions, and she had to spend a lot of time educating them in what the process actually entails. Anyway, they’ve gotten down to the final four, with two inventors that have impressed me a lot with their character. Now America will choose who goes forward…after the 2004 election, I’m not holding my breath.
CBS News Sunday Morning — Another friend of mine told me to give this a chance. Not being up on Sunday morning, I tivo’d it and was treated to a very slow-paced 90 minutes of light storytelling; imagine if one episode of Rocketboom was stretched out for 15 minutes, and that’s kind of how the pacing felt. On the other hand, there were some interesting stories buried in the timestream. Mentioning my issues with the pacing to my friend, he was stunned that I actually wasn’t watching it in realtime. He pointed out that when it airs on Sunday morning, you’re just getting up, making coffee, and just easing into the day. The show is paced correspondingly. It had never occured to him that I’d be watching it after a day of work at 1AM. So I’ve kept this show on the roster, and save it for mornings when I’m up early.
Futureweapons — When I was in High School, I was a typical kid fascinated by tanks, jets, and guns. As I started drawing more and dreaming about games I would create, I thought having a firm grasp on the military side of things was important. However, I eventually realized that understanding what made people tick was much more interesting than guns guns guns, and I stopped following the technology. Until I stumbled upon Futureweapons, which has captivated me with its look at modern networked, automated, and highly-computerized weapon systems from guns that shoot around corners to networked howitzers. I have mixed feelings about the show: on the one hand, it’s interesting to me on the gut “I’m a man! grunt!” level, plus I like understanding how systems work in difficult circumstances. On the other hand, it’s also highly disturbing to think of just how advanced these weapons are, and I wouldn’t wish their use on anyone. The segment on thermobaric explosives, in particular, was just shy of being really horrific despite their use of white fiberglass mannikins.
Deadliest Catch — A documentary series about Alaskan
kingcrab fishermen that battle insanely dangerous weather in sub-zero temperatures so we can have our Sunday all-y0u-can-eat seafood specials. Each fishing vessel is independently crewed and captained; it’s lucrative work, but that’s because it can kill you. Crazy…yet another friend (strangely, the one who recommended CBS Sunday Morning) turned me on to this. It’s a nice little lesson in entrepreneurship and leadership too, if you squint at it in the right way.
Clean Sweep — One of those TLC shows on getting rid of the clutter in your house. Surprisingly inspiring, and sometimes I get some good ideas on how to tackle similar problems in my house. Decluttering is related to productivity too.