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Judging a book by its cover

For all that we're told not to, I've personally had a lot of success going against that particular aphorism. After all, if the author or publisher couldn't take the time and effort to slap a pleasing cover on the work, what are the chances they took the time and effort to polish the insides? This isn't to say that you can't be fool into trying a book with a pleasing cover and finding crap, but I've seldom regretted the opposite. It also helps that a cover often tells you a lot about a book, especially in a genre like fantasy where there are a lot of possibilities and misclassifications. If I see a spaceship on the cover or someone with a raygun, I know it's probably not for me.

The same sometimes holds true for tv shows and movies. We all tend to make snap judgments on whether we'll enjoy something based on very little information. A trailer, the subject matter, an actor's involvement, word of mouth, etc. I recently had a chance to realize just how little information it takes to poison my opinion of something.

As some of you might remember, I removed the tv from my room around a year and a half ago and have been living without ever since. The only time I run into tv now is usually when I'm traveling somewhere and in a hotel. This doesn't mean that I don't watch any tv shows at all anymore, as my recent stint of Dexter proves, but I don't get an opportunity to channel flip and discover things I wasn't already looking for. Instead if I decide I watch something, it's targeted retrieval as I go to bittorrent and grab every season of it at once. Since I don't go to entertainment sites online, this means that I have very little info about the new shows and movies that come out. I end up making judgments about them with very little information to go on, and since there's very little chance I'll get any followup data, the first impression sticks.

While I was in Ohio, I spent a few hours watching tv with Chelle. It just so happened that there was a How I Met Your Mother marathon on. I had written the show off from the beginning as one to avoid despite the fact that I like Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan. What led me to this conclusion was nothing more than the show's title. I deduced from that that the entire premise would be some sort of family comedy akin to Everybody Loves Raymond or The King of Queens. Also known as vomit-inducing. Sure, Neil Patrick Harris might play a fun Kramer-like character who bursts in occasionally to stir things up, but I figured that it would hardly be worth slogging through the equivalent of Full House for it. Of course, if you've seen the show, you know that my first impression was completely off. The title isn't so much a description of the show as its premise as a retrospective. Instead of a main character with a wife and two kids living in suburbia, it's more of the Friends generation. That doesn't necessarily make it good, but at least it means it isn't family comedy. What ends up making it good is that the writing is pretty spiffy as well as the retrospective gimmick. I only ended up watching 3 episodes but I think I might add it to the lineup. The only thing holding me back is I hate watching anything that's still running since if I really get hooked I'll feel obligated to follow it week to week.

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