About the Author and this Blog
I’m Chris, a 39 year old transportation planner and married father of two. I grew up and live in Berkeley, California — a place notable for its well-meaning and sometimes crazy people. Home to the University of California’s flagship campus and the birthplace of the free speech movement of the 1960s, Berkeley has a lot of both bright and unbearable people in it. I love it here and I love my community, but there are very few places in this world with more self-important people per square foot. Nevertheless, there is nowhere else I’ve found that would ever have as much meaning for me — nowhere else I can whole-heartedly call home. But that’s the subject for another blog…another love letter…another rant.
My intention is to make this a blog about science fiction on TV — both good and bad — and as such, there are a few things you should know about me and my relationship with the boob tube:
- I don’t actually own a TV! I know, I know, this undercuts my authority from the start and I must admit that it seems ubsurd even as I write it. Why the hell would I even care about science fiction TV, let alone blog about it with passion and insight if I didn’t have the instrument of its delivery close at hand? The simplest answer to this question is to recount (in summarized form) my history with what Tim Goodman calls, “The Bastard Machine“. As long as I can remember, I’ve watched too much TV. It was on all the time no matter what the hour or what was on. Productivity was low and my social life was necessarily limited. This was fine as long as there was enough time in my day to piss away, but in 1998 I was working as a transportation planner, I started a Ph.D. program at Berkeley, and my first child was born. So suddenly I found myself pressed for time and TV was definitely taking up more than its fair share. But even this wasn’t enough to disuade me, and somehow I managed to continue my TV-ladden lifestyle for a while. That is, until my daughter started to take notice of the world around her, and we noticed that she noticed the TV. In fact, you could see her eyes lock on to it and watch it. It was disturbing to see a child only a few months old get caught up in this thing that I loved and hated. So, we decided to “box” it, put it in the basement and with the exception of a few “media events”, there it’s remained to this day. So, technically, I do own a TV (even though it’s 15 years old at this point) but it’s useful for me psychologically to continue to act like I don’t own one…one that’s just waiting for me to come get it from the basement.
- I love TV without the TV: Since we boxed it, our entertainment time has gravitated towards the computer and DVDs. We started by subscribing to Netflix and mostly watching movies, but as time went on, I discovered that I could get my TV fix by watching TV programs on DVD. What a simple (and some might say, simplistic) yet profound discovery for me. No more commercials. No more channel surfing. No more TV droning in the background simply because nothing good was on. Now virtually everything I watched was at least good and often great because what I watched was vetted by friends, the critics, and the marketplace itself. And since I can watch many episoides in one sitting, this way of viewing also encourages an appreciation of long, episodic story arcs over the course of a season or seasons. Shows with long, strong, character-based narratives jumped to the top of my favorites list.
- Hopelessly behind? Perhaps: On the downside we have to wait a year or more to see what everyone else sees in their first broadcasts — we’re behind the TV zietgeist. Does this make this blog hopelessly behind as well? To some extent, maybe, but the fact is that there are so few truly good science fiction TV programs currently in production, most of this blog is necessarily devoted to looking back anyways — pulling out the gems from the past and appreciating their facets.