>It Really Is An Idiot Box, Isn’t It?

>Ok, I tried to write this post four months ago, and my computer made a meal out of it. Let’s try again. Hopefully I can still make the same points just as clearly.

I must be getting old because it’s getting harder to suspend disbelief and just swallow the plots of some stuff on TV. I look at stuff that wouldn’t have made me raise an eyebrow when I was younger and want to shut the thing off. In other cases, after watching something, I’m left feeling like my head just went through a centrifuge.

Let’s start with an example from the first category. As I was flipping around, I stumbled across an old episode of Star Trek the Next Generation. I’m probably going to bore a few people, but what the hell. it was the episode where Commander Maddox wants to rip open Data’s brain, analyze it, and try and make a new one based on what he’s learned from Data. But Data doesn’t think the guy knows what he’s doing so says nope, I’m not going to let you monkey with my wires and nuts and bolts and such. So Maddox says oh yes you are, Starfleet says so, to which Data says oh yeah? Well I’m quitting then. Then Maddox says you can’t quit, you’re a machine and you can’t quit. So they decide to bring in some kind of arbitration officer to look over the legality of the whole thing, and this is where it all goes to hell. She says that Data is property of Starfleet.

How is this even remotely logical? From what I remember, Data went to school just like everyone else did. They even made a big point of that in an other episode. So, unless everybody who went to the academy was made to sign something saying that they are from this day forward property of Starfleet and can be reverse-engineered and altered as Starfleet sees fit, he’s not property any more than the next officer. Just because he’s made out of steell, or whatever he’s made of, instead of organic matter is beside the point. the only way something can be property is if it’s bought and sold. But this point escapes everyone involved, and they have to have a whole trial to decide whether Data is a sentient being. This episode should have been killed at the point where they realize that nobody had the receipt for Data, so obviously he didn’t belong to anyone. But nobody thought of that, or they thought we just wouldn’t notice. I honestly feel stupid for not noticing this little detail the first time, or the next zillion times, I saw the episode.

The other thing I saw recently on TV that made my head spin was an episode of the Simpsons. If someone told me that it was written by Vince Russo, I wouldn’t be surprised. Let me try and remember how it went. Marge took the kids on a school trip and then Bart somehow ended up in the tank with the fish, or something. He got bitten, so they took him to the doctor. The doctor said he’d treat him as soon as he had Marge’s health insurance card. She said Homer had it, and couldn’t get a hold of him, so the doctor shackled Bart to the radiator until she could find him.

After hours of searching, she found him, I assume Bart got treated, and life continued. but because she had such trouble finding him, she said he needed a cell phone. He ran out and got one, along with a whole bunch of cellular gadgets. Soon, he was driving and talking, playing with some other toys, I think there was some kind of fog-machine involved, and…blub blub blub, into the ocean he went.

After the coastguard fished him out, they revoked his license. So, he had to walk everywhere. Because of this, he became a much healthier, happier man. He even sang, and got the whole family to go on walks, and it was a happy woo time…until…Marge ran him down one night when he was walking.

Oh sure, it looked like an accident at first. Marge was all apologetic, and did everything to take care of her incapacitated husband with a crushed pelvis. One day, she spilled a whole pot of hot soup on him. It slowly started to come out that she subconsciously hated him for not being able to drive and making her drive the kids everywhere, so her unconscious was trying to kill him. So the marriage counsellor told Homer he had to do something special for her, so he gathered up all his friends, and they had a banquet in her honour.

And that was the episode. What in hell was the point they were driving at? Was it don’t use cellphones? Was it walking is good for you? Maybe it was that Homer doesn’t do enough around the house. I honestly don’t know, and wonder if this episode was an anomaly, or if that is going to be the future style of the series. If so, ug.

So, am I getting square, or is TV getting stupid? Or is it a little of both?

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