Fringe Farewell

fringe

(edit: I fixed my hanging asterisks!)

When Fringe debuted in 2008, it wasn’t love at first sight. I liked it okay, but honestly it all felt a little predictable. Yes there was this weird sci-fi component, and it was from J.J. Abrams, and Pacey* looked cute, but despite it being right up my alley, I wasn’t super enthusiastic.I was watching from London, where it was not actually airing (we won’t go into how I watched it) and I remember not staying on top of it too much at first. It wasn’t Battlestar Galactica or Lost, and I am honestly surprised sometimes that I ever kept watching.  I think I was bored, and I could watch it in my room on the computer, and it was enjoyable enough.  Well after five seasons, I am so glad I stayed.  Fringe signs off Friday night (here in America), and here is my farewell love letter to the show.

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In the end…


Well tonight (or tomorrow morning for those of us across the pond) is it: the end of Lost. The end of polar bears and time travel (on the same island), and an end to a particular-type of WTF moments. For me personally, so much has changed in the 5.5 years since lost debuted in 2004, it is amazing to think that I went from De Soto, MO to Leavenworth, KS, to Kingston, Jamaica, and London, England. From Cingular, to Saint Mary, to Big Brothers Big Sisters, to UTech & Roehampton, Starbucks, and the National Union of Students. Wow. Lost has truly been my ‘constant’ for a whole lot of change and jumping around the world (and even and island or two). It’s the one show that I never miss, that I have to see as soon as I can. I’m probably more than just a little unreasonably sad about it ending, but when a show has been with you for all that change, when it’s helped me make new friends, and when I’ve spent some great evenings watching it with old ones, it’s sad to see it go.

I have high hopes for the finale, that in the end it will be fantastic and fun and yes, I really hope we’ll get some answers (they really need to mention Walt). I know they can’t possibly answer everything I want, but if it’s done well, that’s okay. So, instead of focussing on what they better show me, I just want to briefly reflect on what they already have, in my favorite epsiodes.

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40 Years of Sunny Days


I grew up in a small town in the middle part of America, the kind of town where the same families have lived generations, and everyone mostly looked like each other, which is to say, in my case, this was white. I point this out because for the most part my exposure until 18 or so to people who didn’t look like me came from television, and as a small child, specifically from Sesame Street. In May, Sesame Street turned 40 years old, which makes it older than me, and also certainly make me part of the first generation that grew up with Sesame Street.

As someone who loves TV (obviously) it can certainly be easy for me to overstate the importance of a particular show in political or generational terms. And whilst I certainly do not want to say that, for example, Sesame Street is the only reason that Barack Obama was elected president, I think it is fair to say that Sesame Street played a part. So many of the people who elected him were 35 and under, or the Sesame Street generations.

I was an ideal canvas for Sesame Street I suppose. I grew up in a home not hearing racially motivated slurs of any kind, from a class position that would (especially as a kid) have been no higher than middle-middle class, and was generally taught, both in places like school and church, and by example from my parents, that all people were equal. What I lacked was many if any real life examples of People of Color, or even people with a disability. Sesame Street worked fit what I was being taught, and visually showed to me from a young age that Americans are all sorts of people. I think there were many children like me who were just as influence by this message.

Sesame Street was designed to give pre-K children a television learning experience, teaching us basic numbers and our Alphabet while also showing us life on the “Sesame Street.” I somehow always knew that Sesame Street was in New York, and that New York was very different than my small town. But it was okay to be from a small town or a big city or somewhere in between! I can, to this day, count to 10 in Spanish, and know that “Hola means Hello.” More importantly, because of Sesame Street, I knew that Gordon was Black, Linda was Deaf, Luis was Hispanic, Bob was White, Kermit was Green, and they all were friends with Big Bird, who is six. (I remember when I was six thinking how we were the same age!) Sesame Street has the most integrated cast in television, one that matches its message of acceptance.

Sesame Street has always gotten the biggest stars from film and politics and music, from Tina Fey to Jesse Jackson to Stevie Wonder. Sesame Street isn’t “color blind”; it doesn’t try and say there are no differences between us, but rather it says, we are all different in some way, and that’s okay. I think the brilliance of Sesame Street is that is shows little kids what America should be like, before they realise that America is not like actually like that yet, and as they grow older these kids question why it is not like that. Sesame Street, and its progressive ideas on what America could be, have become part of our collective memories, and in turn, these attitudes have started to seep into our collective generational consciousness. We begin to believe that we can help make our country a bit more like Sesame Street. We are not where we need to be, but at least, we know we should be somewhere else.

Of course, the other great part about Sesame Street is that it is just so darn good! I could post about 20 clips that I love and remember from Sesame Street. Instead, I will stick to five.

1) This video, Me and My Chair, is one of those that has stuck with me after all these years. I certainly don’t know why, but I never knew anyone who used a wheelchair when I was young so maybe that’s why. Please excuse the bad video, and the bad voice, as I sing along.

2) I had to include this clip, sung by the Pointer Sisters. It routinely shows up in Best of Sesame Street lists. I can’t argue because well, it is great. I warn you, it will get stuck in your head.

3) This is perhaps one of the saddest scenes ever in television. Big Bird can’t understand that Mr Hooper (or Looper as Big Bird calls him) has died, and that this means he isn’t coming back. I am old enough to remember when Mr Hooper was part of the cast and when he died. For some reason I have a memory of watching this at my Grandparents’ house. It is a very pragmatic and real way of teaching children about death, and I sob every time I watch it. (NOTE: Sadly this video was removed and I can’t find another one, so you’ll have to trust me. It makes me cry every time).

4) The music is one of the best parts of Sesame Street, and there are so many I could include. There are the Bee-tles, Tammy Swine-ette, various musical guests, and a great version of Sing (sing a song). But for me, this one, sung by Ernie (and in this version) Aaron Neville, is one of the sweetest expressions of friendship in the form a very melodic, if slightly melancholic tune.

5) One of my absolute favorites, that I remember watching and singing to. It has the line, “my name is you” that I admit that as a kid, I didn’t quite get what they meant but man, I totally wanted to play in that park with those kids. Who are all, like, 40 now. This is the perfect expression of “Sesame Street Values” and I for one think the choppy editing and crazy lip syncing add to its charm.

I really could go on and on, but once again, this post is so very long, and I didn’t even talk about the Sesame Street records I used to listen to (like the one where Big Bird has to find the Orchestra). A great website to reminisce about Sesame Street is on Babble, where the author has posted 50 top Sesame Street moments, including the time when the adults finally see Snuffy. As one can see, when I love a television show, it is very easy for me to be idealistic and long winded!

So, I’ll wind it up, with just one exaltation left to say: Happy Birthday Sesame Street, thanks for the memories, and keep up the good work.

Saying Au Revior to ER

I wrote my first television related article about E.R.; long before blogs, websites, or my family owning a VCR, I compared and reviewed E.R. and Chicago Hope for my high school newspaper, the “Eye of the Dragon.” (For those of you not inclined to remember Chicago Hope, it too was a show about doctors in a Chicago hospital, although that is where the similarities ended).

Somewhere between there and here, I blinked, and 15 years went by. I am sure in some ways my 15 year-old self would not believe who she has become, or where she has gone–Jamaica, London, Leavenworth! But, some things have remained steadfast these many years, including, and amongst other things, my wicked laugh, worrying too much what people think of me, and of course my love of watching and writing about television. So, as E.R. officially ends tonight, I thought I should pay tribute to the show that gave me my start.

(No Longer) Weekly Video Clip: The West Wing

I’ve been spending a lot of time doing research, looking for jobs, etc. on the Internet; in my flat I can only get the Internet downstairs, which is bad news when I need to be in a quiet space to get stuff done. But, it’s good news when I want to watch some TV while I sit on the computer. I’ve been itching for something familiar and good and lately, I’ve been watching old episodes of the West Wing.

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