Saturday, June 26, 2010

Catching Up on Old TV

As readers of my blog know, I watch a lot of TV, so how could I have missed The Wire and Freaks and Geeks.  Well, I probably didn't get in on the former as it started while I was still working at the Pentagon and did not want to add any more stuff to my already shortened evenings with my 4:45am wakeups.  And then, once behind, I didn't try to catch up until now.  For F&G, I have no idea why I didn't start watching it.  I know why I didn't catch up before--the show got canceled after one season. 

In addition to making progress on my book, reading my graduate students' stuff, writing up a person's tenure letter, and other stuff, my summer projects include making progress on The Wire and watching all of F&G.  I am five episodes into The Wire and pretty hooked thus far.  For me, the best part thus far are the dysfunctional bureaucratic politics of the police and the management strategies of the bad guys.  Lots of principal-agent problems and various solutions.  How do you get your underlings to do what you want?  I spent part of this week's conference in Kingston thinking about how I should adapt some of their planning and management styles to my own challenges of multiple teaching and research assistants.  Of course, using the US and CA militaries might seem harsh or unrealistic as models of management, but I am pretty sure that my employees would prefer those tactics to those of Avon Barksdale and Stringer Bell (the drug entrepreneurs). 

I asked for F&G for Father's Day, so it was appropriate that the entire Spew family (well, the humans, not the pets) were crammed onto the couch (the smallest takes half, the parents share the rest) to watch the pilot last night.  Great start.  And we had a blast trying to place names and faces of some of the younger folks while enjoying how Seth Rogen, Jason Segal and James Franco have aged some but not much.  Typical Apatow: one central female, few others that are central; heaps of painful, squirming comedy, pretty sweet and sentimental and very entertaining.

One of the nice things about the proliferation of channels and tv shows is that one can miss an entire series and then have something to watch.  In the good old days pre-DVDs and videos, one had to settle for re-runs ... of Gilligan's Island and Brady Bunch.  Regardless of climate change, terrorism, and radical right wing anti-immigration movements, we live in a better world.

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