Deja View

     Everything old is new again. And again and again and again. The current crop of TV show revivals makes me feel like I’m stuck in an endless time loop where nothing changes except the items advertised during the commercial breaks.

     I looked forward to the return of one of my all time favorites, The X-Files. In the days before DVR, I was firmly planted on my sofa every Sunday night at 9:00 pm to follow the exploits of FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as they solved another mind-bending mystery. It was a great way to forget about the start of the work week on Monday morning. For an hour you could stare at the television and be transported to another world, a world where anything could happen.

     Even when the continuing back story got convoluted and hard to follow, I still watched. I was completely drawn in by the powerful chemistry between the actors Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Dana Scully’s cynicism was the perfect counter to Fox Mulder’s wide-eyed wonder. And no matter what horrors were unleashed upon the world, in the end they still had each other. The new shows that began airing this year after a sixteen year break have retained all of the horror and humor of the past. The scripts have even acknowledged the not-so-subtle aging of the stars of the show:

     Speaking of aging stars, Roseanne Barr brought the 90’s back in a big way with the return of her self-titled situation comedy. Love her or hate her, Roseanne’s ground-breaking comedy series realistically portrays a typical blue collar family facing a myriad of modern problems. I was skeptical at first, but after lots of good buzz about the show, I thought I’d tune in. The sharp comedic timing of the actors and the top-notch writing earned the network its highest ratings in years. Although the show was politically infused, it seemed balanced. Both sides of the political spectrum has its share of good, bad and flat out crazy. Hopefully the show won’t get mired in the swamp of mediocrity. The underlying message of the show is, no matter what our differences, family love prevails. How can you argue with that?

     Rising from the ashes of cancellation American Idol returned to television. I had no desire to watch this revived walking dead musical competition. I was a huge fan for many years during the early seasons. The talk every week at the office water cooler was who should be voted off. My friends and I knew the names of the top ten contestants and we rooted for our favorites. The only name I remember from the show is the first season’s winner, Kelly Clarkson. She epitomized the come-from-nowhere discover who was turned into a star. Today, the show is a cruel parody of itself. The talent is lacking, the judges are uninteresting and the whole thing feels fixed and staged. Maybe it was always like that and I just never noticed. During American Idol’s initial run, I was naive enough to think reality shows were real. I’m much more cynical as I’ve aged.

     Numerous other shows have been resurrected from TV limbo: Full House, Will & Grace, Survivor (although it seems that one never left, but you’ve seen one season you’ve seen them all) and many others. I’m looking for something original, but quality television is hard to find. Occasionally I’ll scroll through Netflix and uncover an undiscovered gem like Stranger Things, and even this series is an homage to the the 1980’s.

     Maybe everything old is not new again. Maybe it’s just old but it’s been so long I can’t remember it. If you think you’ve seen everything, it’s because you already have. At least in 2018, I can fast forward through the commercials on my DVR. Maybe it’s time to turn the television off and read a book. Now there’s a novel thought.

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