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Finding Enlightenment Amid the Dross
In My Opinion...
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 • Posted April 18, 2012

We have satellite television, with hundreds of channels. We have DVD collections of movies and television shows from which to choose for an evening's entertainment. And, we have the internet, full of movies, television shows and specialized entertainment. And our most common refrain when we go to these devices - "There's nothing to watch."

When you're flipping through the satellite channels, you're at the mercy of programmers. These faceless folks plan the shows around viewing times, potential audiences and network programming demands. When you go through your DVD collection, you are limited by the selection of those items which you have chosen to make part of your library. And, on the internet, you have so much to choose from that the problem is often one of overload.

During the last year, I've started to retool my television watching around my Netflix account. Though they offer many movies and television shows, they are often not the blockbusters, but are, instead, the thousands upon thousands of other items that are produced by studios and networks, which then disappear into their vaults - until now.

I've had a wonderful time on Netflix pulling old series that I never got to see when they first aired. I've been able to watch television shows that ended years ago, and even been able to watch older episodes of current shows so that I can understand what came prior to the season now airing.

As far as movies, I've found some obscure titles that, more often than not, make me realize why they didn't do while when they were released. However, it's fun to watch a movie from ten years ago, starring someone who went on to a great career, and see that their early work didn't always indicate the extent of their future talent.

But, that still isn't the best thing I've discovered on Netflix.

I have found documentaries covering every topic imaginable. There are the History Channel's great stories of American Independence, the Civil War, the Great Depression, World War II and various events occurring over the years. The Travel Channel has "America's Castles," providing inside views of some of our finest architectural treasures. Travel also provides a view of the world beyond our own. Explore Yellowstone, Key West, Buenos Aires, Paris, Istanbul or Bejing.

I enjoy the Food Channel; but, find it's not good to watch if you're trying to control your diet. When I'm eating low calorie, low carbohydrate food, it is frustrating to watch Paula Deen dropping in entire sticks of butter to her recipes, or to see Anthony Bourdain feasting on animal parts that I'd prefer had gone into the trash!

Discovery and National Geographic specials have gotten a lot of my attention lately. Explorations of cities, cultures, religions, traditions and interactions pepper their shows. I bookmarked one really great show about the architectural search for the world in the time of Jesus and have been taking notes to use in my Sunday school class. If I find myself wavering on a lesson, I could easily show one of those episodes to the high school kids with no worry.

When compared to the many sorry pieces of entertainment out there today, it is wonderful to realize that we live in a time when we can continue to educate ourselves during our viewing times. Rather than watching the "Real Housewives" of anywhere, we can learn about the REAL housewives of Williamsburg. Rather than wondering what young woman the "Bachelor" will select, we can learn about the life the bachelor Abraham Lincoln lived before meeting and marrying Mary Todd. Rather than watching contestants eating junk food during the "Amazing Race," we can see how the Beekman Boys are returning to heritage vegetables, raising goats for their milk, and bringing their entire community into the experience so that everyone can benefit.

You don't need Netflix. You can find quality shows all over the programming schedule, if you look. And, when you do, you don't feel you wasted an entire evening, and you may actually feel like you learned something useful.

It’s all just my opinion.

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