Good shows should tell stories

Ever seen “Whale Wars”? No? Normally, as regular readers of this column know, I have very low tolerance for reality TV, but there have been a few recent and notable exceptions, of which “Whale Wars” is one. That and a few of the others are the subject of this column.

First comes the disclaimer; I do not pretend to be a TV critic, any more than I pretend to be a music or movie critic. In any of these areas, I simply claim to know what I like, and to be smart enough to analyze why I like it.

Perhaps this show is reality, perhaps not, although it certainly involves a real organization {Sea Shepherd} and its attempts to address a real problem. Oddly, I first tuned in because I thought it was another one of Animal Planet’s dramatizations.

On this, we follow the real or nearly so adventures of marine activists in their attempts to shed light on illegal or barely legal whaling operations by one of the world’s most advanced countries.

Another show which caught my attention, and this is one I know is just getting started, is the attempt to discern who among a group of artists is the best. I suppose it caught my attention because, unlike the cook off shows, which only remind me of my own inadequacy in the kitchen, this show seemed to deal with something I can at least relate to.

The assignment on a recent show, which may have been the initial episode, was to create a portrait of one of the fellow artists in the group. As may be expected, they ran the gamut , good to simply weird (a death portrait of one’s subject ? My, what would Jung say?).

Common ground among these reality shows is the fact that, reality or not, they are fairly far from our own reality. Like the world of the master chefs, they reflect a reality that is much different from the pathetic lives of a bunch of New Jersey young adults, or some pampered upper middle class housewives who live in- well, it doesn’t much matter where.

Those are not my reality, but I can truthfully say I am glad they are not. I guess to appeal to me, a reality show must have the elements of a game show (a winner, a loser, and certain standards) or of adventure (a ship trying to protect sea mammals). Not meaningless chatter, groundless arrogance, pumped up drama, and a plot line that makes me feel like a voyeur.

Summer is too short to watch bad TV.