This rant is mostly thought caused by that article, but it has very little to do with that article. Still interesting to read though.
First of all, the only time I watch PBS is occasionally for BBC World News and Series One of new Doctor Who and old episodes of Doctor Who (aren’t the Cybermen from the 80’s so cute?). When I was younger, I used to watch Arthur. Ocassionally Reading Rainbow. I never, ever got the point of Sesame Street. I’ve watched programmes from NOVA in classes, and they were pretty interesting.
This Wednesday, PBS is airing as part of their Great Performances series John Doyle’s Tony Award Winning production of Company. Since I visited New York almost a year ago, I have been kicking myself for not seeing it. What PBS, particularly WNET who is producing the show, is doing for people throughout our country is that they are sharing the fine arts with people who might not be able to go to Broadway.
As I’ve stated before, I don’t watch a lot of PBS. I don’t know a lot of people who do watch PBS on a regular basis. But IPTV, the Iowa version of PBS, airs Doctor Who unedited, I think. They also air Doctor Who Confidential. Does SciFi? No. I was recently watching the episode Rise fo the Cyberman and noticed that one of my favourite parts was edited out in the SciFi airing. Unfortunately, IPTV only airs Season One of the revived series (I have no idea how many times I’ve seen The Unquiet Dead), but they do.
At 12:00 AM, IPTV airs classic Doctor Who. Occassionally I’ll stay up to watch the entire hour of it, but I usually go to sleep. But you can watch it and laugh at how campy it is by today’s standards. But you can also think about how it was probably technologically advanced for its time.
In McGrath’s article, he mentions Masterpiece (Theatre). I recently gave my mum the DVD of Casanova, with Peter O’Toole and David Tennant. It’s bloody Casanova, there’s sex and nudity in it. I don’t know how much of the sex was still in when it aired in the United States, but I do know that it was rated TV-MA, which gives me some sort of a hint. I don’t watch Masterpiece (Theatre), because I don’t know what is on or there is nothing that interests me. But I would have watched one of the Jane Austen pieces if I had know before hand that Billie Piper was in it. Jane Austen is a bit of a fad right now. I don’t know about the ratings for it, but it seems to me to be a move that makes sense.
And then there is PBS’ children’s programmes. Arthur, Dragontales, Curious George, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, Between the Lions. The ones that I mentioned are educational programmes. Dragontales, like Nick Jr.’s Dora the Explorer, ties in Spanish words with their show to teach their viewer’s Spanish. Yes, I am aware that PBS airs at least one show that isn’t educational (Teletubbies), but a majority of what they air that is aimed towards children is educational. If I were a mother, I would rather have my child glued to the TV watching something on PBS than watching something on Disney. Except that show that John Tartaglia is in. It’s like Johnny and the Sprites, I think.
In an age where parents are picky over their children being smart and watching what’s right, we need something like PBS. When I visited my relatives in California, my seven-year-old cousin had the TV on to Disney constantly, watching shows like That’s So Raven, Suite Life of Zach and Cody,
Your Mother. Is that educational? No. Granted, it was the decision of my relatives that I was staying with to choose what she watched. To paraphrase Rousseau, “God makes all things pure, man takes them and makes them evil”. Not that I’m insinuating that Disney makes children evil, but are young children learning good lessons from watching shows like Suite Life of Zach and Cody?
Yes, PBS is still necessary. Occassionally, I’ll see something on that intrests me. I’ve watched really interesting NOVA programmes in classes at school, such as one on Typhoid Mary. It’s educational programming that we need in our society today, particularly with parents who are concerned with what their kids watch.