I was one of those kids who was raised in front of the TV set, so it never occurred to me to call it a "vast wasteland". It was my friend, my window to the world of other lands and people and beliefs and cultures and... well, you get the idea. My own family, God bless 'em, was littered with conservative, fundamentalist, racist views; if I'd grown up in only their company, who knows what a hot mess I'd be today? Yes, I also read plenty of books. But on TV, I got to see decent families of all colors, exotic countries, and cooking that didn't involve oil and flour.
So now I watch a lot of shows, mostly dramas these days, always mysteries. From Cold Case to NCIS, Medium, and the L&O and CSI franchises, I'm always trying to figure out whodunit. Lately, I've been trying to figure out more. I've been watching the story arcs and how they're set up. They all do it slightly differently, but I've learned a lot of interesting things I can apply to my own plot lines. For example:
CSI - I only watch the original and NY (I admit it, Caruso is too creepy for me), but I've noticed that the first person they interview is usually the killer, especially if they look benign and act helpful. Cold Case follows this formula also; the one person you discount as being innocent usually did it.
L&O - In this show, the first interviewee is usually NOT the killer, and their theories on the motive will shift at least three times during the hour.
NCIS - I don't notice as many red herrings in this show, altho I may be wrong. What I do notice is the chipping away, bit by bit, of the evidence until the killer is narrowed down. And I notice that I've got a crush on McGee(k), who wrote one thriller and is now a recognized bestseller, and buys expensive clothes and cars. Ah, the romance of the writer, through the eyes of the media (who should know better).
Medium - The fun part of this show is trying to figure out where Allison's dreams/visions are trying to lead me. Should I take them literally this week, or figuratively? If I was writing paranormal, I'd want to do it like this.
Recently, I've been conscious of the soundtrack. A sad moment may be well written (and have all the right camera angles), but if it didn't have that poignant music behind it, would I still be weeping at the TV screen? Which made me think...
What if e-books came with soundtracks? The Kindle, iPhone, eReader, etc are all getting more sophisticated. They know what page you're on - why couldn't a clever person program music to accompany the words? As your main character cradles their dying best friend, the music swells appropriately. Or perhaps, for the savvy and independent reader, they are allowed to program their own soundtrack? How cool would that be? I wonder if Amazon/Apple/Sony would be interested, and more importantly, would pay me for their interest. It could be the next great app!
See, TV didn't rot my brain at all.