eta: Jessica Brooks (coffelvnmom) is the winner of Sara J. Henry's A COLD AND LONELY PLACE! Jessica, please contact Sara with your info. Congratulations!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: We here at Jungle Red love the elusive E.J. Copperman (most frequently seen in the company of notorious Barry-Award winning author Jeffrey Cohen.) The latest book in Copperman's Haunted Guesthouse series, Chance of a Ghost, has just hit the shelves, so of course E.J. is here to tell us all about...
Which I guess leaves it to me to say you should all check out Copperman's funny, fantastical mysteries. I know I'm going to pick up Chance of a Ghost. Just as soon as I finish this House of Cards marathon...
I love people who say they don’t watch television. I think they’re lying, but I just love them to pieces. They’re adorable.
People who say they don’t watch television (the really hardcore ones will tell you they don’t own a television) are subscribing to that hoary old notion that because television comes into your home and arrives on a screen smaller than the one in your local movie house, it is somehow an inferior, cheap, dirty conveyor of entertainment. They truly think that reading Mickey Spillane is a more highbrow experience than watching The West Wing. (I’m not discussing Downton Abbey, because I haven’t imbibed the Kool-Aid on that one yet.)
I never disparage reading anything, because I think reading is an unparalleled form of entertainment and information gathering. I read for pleasure and I read for work. But I also go to movies and I surf the web and I play stupid games on my Kindle Fire (I read paper books almost exclusively, but you can’t play Scramble in a book).
And I watch television. Yeah, I said it. I watch television and I like it.
Indeed, as a student and (hopefully) practitioner of comedy, I think the best work being done today is on the old box (now really more a rectangle). You think Ted is higher class than the late lamented 30 Rock because the screen is bigger? I don’t.
Somewhere in this country (the USA, for our readers from elsewhere) is a household in which the author of such excellent crime novels as Every Secret Thing, I’d Know You Anywhere and By A Spider’s Thread is coexisting (one assumes peacefully) with the creative force behind such cheap television entertainment as The Wire, Treme, and Homicide: Life on the Street. Is one’s work by definition more worthy because it is presented on the printed page and not the small(ish) screen?
When I was a young and struggling writer, I went through a period of unexpected unemployment (that means I got fired from my job and couldn’t find work, kids). It was a very difficult six months, the closest I’ve come to honest-to-goodness depression in my life. Two diversions got me through that time: Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels, which I had just discovered, and the television series M*A*S*H, brought to television by the genius writer/producer/director Larry Gelbart.
I don’t discount Parker for a moment—the man was a master at what he did—but I think the endless reruns of the Korean War dramedy did more to keep me sane. Seeing the cast go through their trials and maintain a sense of humor kept me grounded. Cheap entertainment? I’d have paid twice as much for it.
This is not a diatribe against books, movies or opera (although I’m not a fan if Groucho, Harpo and Chico aren’t on hand). This is a defense of that underdog of the entertainment business, the boob tube, or as a government functionary famously called it so long ago, the “vast wasteland of television.”
And he said that in the era when the writer’s room at Sid Caesar’s weekly live program included the wonderful Gelbart (who became a long-distance friend of mine years after saving my sanity), Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Danny Simon, Lucille Kallen, Sheldon Keller, and some kid who called himself Woody Allen.
(To be fair, it’s also the time when they told us watching TV was bad for our eyes, that radiation from sitting too close would give us some unspeakable disease, and that seeing all that suggestive material on the airwaves would turn us into a nation of depraved sex addicts. And only one of those things turned out to be true.)
So don’t feel inferior when your friend tells you he or she doesn’t watch television. Consider that means your friend isn’t seeing things like The Daily Show (the smartest comedy done anywhere in decades), Homeland, Mad Men, Arrested Development, The Newsroom, The Colbert Report, or if they subscribe to Netflix, reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Star Trek, 30 Rock, The West Wing or… pretty much anything.
I watch television. I read books, too. Each has a great deal to offer. One night when you can’t find something you might enjoy on television, you might want to take a look at one of my books. I’d be grateful, and sincerely hope you’d enjoy it.
After all, you don’t want to watch TV all the time. That’s bad for your eyes.
I KNOW you have opinions on the boob tube, dear readers. Jump on the back blog to dish on your must-see TV, and one lucky winner will win all four of the Haunted Guesthouse books!
Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She's returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable-guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them...
Find out more, and read excerpts, at Copperman's website. You can also friend E.J. on Facebook, follow E.J. on Twitter as @ejcop, and yes, there's even a blog: Sliced Bread.