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Citizen Kane

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I feel bad for TV – it gets such a bad rap. Detractors criticize it for its mindlessness, its soul-suckingness, its lack of anything resembling cultural value, and blame it on everything from the disintegration of family life, to the problems of modern youth, to the rise of obesity problems amongst children and adults alike. And while I can maybe concede the validity of these points with regards to certain TV shows – there’s little doubt in my mind the world would be a better place without COPS and WWF Smackdown, How to Marry a Millionaire and those ubiquitous reruns of Full House -- I just think it’s silly to dismiss all TV shows as bad simply because some of it, even most, happens to be dreck.

So I don’t care if it makes me sound stupid to say it: I like TV. TV shows, done well, have the ability to do something that movies really don’t: let characters grow with you over time. I’m a big fan of movies too, but let’s face it: you get to know a lot more about a character over the stretch of twelve hours spread over a brief summer season, twenty two hours spread over a regular nine-month season, six seasons spread over six years, than is possible in the fleeting two-hour span of your average cinematic experience. You know it’s good tv when you start talking about characters like real-life friends – you know it’s great tv when your real-life friends all love to talk about them too.

Just can’t convince yourself to start scheduling your life around some TV show? You’re in luck – with the advent of the DVD age, you can now watch many of the best shows on TV without once checking a TV Guide, rearranging your busy life to make sure that you’re in front of the boob tube at a certain time on a certain day, adjusting those rabbit ear antennae, or shelling out the bucks for cable installation. Just head on over to your favorite video store, mosey on over to the TV section, and grab whatever you want to watch, whenever you want to watch it. Shows are available on VHS as well, of course, but with DVD, you get more shows for your buck – you can generally rent a disc that has 4 shows on a single disk and pay the same amount you would to watch the two shows that can fit on a single videotape. Added to which, TV shows on DVD tend to look way better than they ever do on TV itself – for those of us poor suckers who lack cable especially – and as an added perk, no pesky ads to sit through.

Granted, TV on DVD lacks that expansive time element that to me, at least, is part of the joy of fine television. There’s something to be said for being forced to wait a week, several weeks, even a whole summer, to find out whether your favorite character’s really just bit the bullet, or who the mystery killer is, or how your heroine manages to extricate herself from a particularly sketchy sort of situation. If you’re patient enough not to plow through all the episodes of a TV show on DVD in a single weekend, you’ll be rewarded … you really do need time to let the characters build and grow on you. The best way to do this is to start hosting weekly "Insert TV Show here" Nights … if you know your buddies are eagerly anticipating your Thursday night gatherings to watch the next episode of your new favorite show on DVD, you’re far more likely to resist the temptation to watch all four disks at once. 

3 great tv shows to watch on dvd  ...
twin peaks 
buy the pilot episode*
; the first season
* The first season DVD lacks the two-hour pilot episode. There’s a separate import-only DVD of the Pilot available – crucial viewing, really – but it may be easier to snag it on VHS.
In a sleepy little logging town named Twin Peaks, somewhere deep in the woods in the Pacific Northwest, the murder of high school prom queen Laura Palmer shatters the town’s superficial peacefulness, and turns the lives of the townsfolk upside down. Quirky, mystical FBI Agent Dale Cooper arrives in Twin Peaks eager to immerse himself in the town’s quaint niceties – good diner coffee, fine cherry pie, fresh mountain air, all of which he finds in abundance. But what he discovers once he starts poking beneath the postcard-perfect surface of things is a tangled web of dark secrets and lies, strange characters, strange relationships and strange places galore. 

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