Last night, Boston Legal hit one out of the ballpark for all of us elders who are tired of television programming aimed at every generation but ours. If you missed this episode, where the firm takes on the television industry for discriminating against the oldest generation, you can watch it when it shows up here. Unfortunately, this creatively funny, poignant, and topical series ends next week, and it is going out with a bang that I wish had been postponed. Like, forever.
In the argument to the court that law partner Carl Sack (Emmy Award winner John Larroquette) makes, he asserts that, on the average, people over 55 watch about 6 hours of television a day, compared to the 3 hours watched by young people, who are usually online or texting at the same time. The case is brought to the court by Catherine Piper (Betty White), who is bored, can’t get hired for a job because of her age, can’t bike or climb mountains etc. because of effects of aging, and so she watches television. Except there’s almost no programming aimed at entertaining people of her age.
It’s impossible to capture here in words the impact of the show’s acting and messages. You have to watch it and commiserate.
And there’s no way to capture the poignancy of Denny Crane (William Shatner) as he fights for the life he loves against the tyranny of Alzheimer’s.
The characters of Boston Legal are wackily intelligent, and most of them are over 60 years old. I’m going to miss them; I never missed a show. Hopefully, they will be running online for a long time to com.
For once, though, a widely admired TV drama’s dismissal has nothing to do with ratings. Boston Legal’s imminent retirement is of its own choosing. This time, creator David E. Kelley has decided to quit while ahead. Boston Legal may not go down as the greatest courtroom drama in TV history, but when the jury’s finally in, the verdict is likely to be more favourable than most.
The only show left that I never miss these days is Brothers and Sisters. But it’s no Boston Legal.
As I surfed around, looking to see if I could find any studies on elders and television, I stumbled upon a reference to this book (preview pages here). Published a decade ago, the book includes observations that are still valid.
It’s time for some new research on television watching by those of us over 60. It still seems pretty much a wasteland for people like us.
Just finished watching a program of Boston Legal series 2, and came to the computer to your post. We don’t have television, haven’t had one for decades, but we do watch both film and television series regularly on DVD. Your point is well taken though. My children (18 and 13), my husband, and I get all of our “tv viewing” on the Internet or DVD. Now, if you were to take away the Internet, I’d really be lost.
A wasteland for elders? Gee I don’t know Elaine. Mayby it’s different south of the 49th but at 59 years and then some I find a lot to interest me on TV. I love House, CSI (despite its obvious flaws in science), Bones (even though her books are far superior), a wealth of science programs on PBS and our local knowledge network, great cooking shows on the Food network, more science and interesting programs on Discovery. The list of interesting TV programming is so long I have to cut viewing short most nights in order to get my blogging in.
Sorry but I don’t need for TV to cater to my age group, I need it to cater to intelligence and when it does people of all ages will view it and get satisfaction from it.
Doug, I agree that intelligent programming is the bottom line, and there are plenty of those. What we need is more story lines in the fiction ones that involve older people. I don’t know if you ever watched Boston Legal, but that was one of a kind.
I’ve read just about all of Kathy Reich’s books (I think, originally, at your suggestion) and I also watch Bones. I hope that they keep Ryan O’Neal around; so far he’s the only character over 40.