Indiana Daily Student

TV's better to read

With the exception of soaps and now "Survivor," summer television is usually a vast wasteland of reruns, clip shows, reality specials and brand new episodes of programs that were officially canceled after two shows in the fall. Consumed by boredom and needing something to fill some of my taste for quality comedy, drama and admittedly attractive men, I decided to turn myself over to a higher power: this summer I stopped watching TV.\nInstead, I started reading TV. The network that supplied me with this highly original text programming was not one of the Big Three or the Big Four or however many Big networks there are now. Instead, it all came via a little Web site called mightybigtv.com. Mighty Big TV is a Web site devoted to television.\nVarious reviewers baring various screen names are each assigned a show, and each week they post an episode review providing a great summary of the program, and, better yet, hilarious commentary that alternately praises programs or rips them to shreds. It's kind of like "Mystery Science Theater 3000" on a computer except that some of the television shows Mighty Big TV covers are actually good.\nIt's a strange way to "watch" television. Ordinarily, I like to think I enjoy watching only quality programming. But while I highly enjoy a good Mighty Big recap of "The West Wing" or "ER," those reviews are nothing compared to a venomous, insult-filled commentary on Jennifer Love Hewitt's Audrey Hepburn movie or her canceled series, "Time of Your Life." Although all of the reviews on Mighty Big TV cover programming from last season, the presentation makes for a completely new "viewing" experience.\nAnd while all of the other networks were stranding people on islands or locking them in a house for a month, Mighty Big TV culled its "new" summer programming from its reviewer's videotape collections, posting reviews of earlier seasons of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and covering every episode of "My So-Called Life." \nOf course, there are dangers to reading mightybigtv.com. For example, never read the recaps in a highly public and basically serious work environment. If your editor is trying to discuss a story about technology-enhanced education with you, it's not a good idea to be giggling over the insults being flung at "Young Americans." \nI often wonder what the television network executives would think of Mighty Big TV. Would they take the sarcasm-filled commentaries as a reason for declining audiences or as a wake-up call to start airing better programming? Neither is the most likely answer. \nBut a summer of reading television has created at least one conclusion: the best way to turn bad TV into quality entertainment is to let some smart-ass write about it.

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