TV That Does Good

The Mandalorian is a TV series, now in its second season, that’s available on the Disney Plus streaming service.  It carries on the legacy of the Star Wars universe, offering new characters and tantalizing connections with old ones.  The hero is from Mandalore.  He’s a bounty hunter who comes across “The Child” (an infant) and decides to protect him as he hunts down the bad guys.  The Mandalorian lives in a Wild West land, except that land covers the vastness of space.

There are a lot of action adventures on offer in living rooms and movie theatres.  They present an escape from dreariness and fear, well represented these days by Covid.  But is there more?  Can media give us healing and transcendence and love?  Surely our personal relationships are where these values reside.  But only there?

I love going on the What’s New on Disney Plus website to see what folks are writing about this or that show.  A few days ago, a fellow posted this:

“I’ve been trying to get my mom into The Mandalorian because she loves Star Wars.  For some reason, she couldn’t get into it.  When I asked why, she said it’s because she’s a woman.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe there are a lot of women that love this show, and not just for Baby Yoda.”

I started reading the replies.  Here’s a sample from the six hundred.  Please enjoy them.

***

Strong, mysterious man with a soft spot for babies and kids
What’s not to love?

One of the things my wife and I share is our love of Star Wars

Gender is meaningless.  The Mandalorian is awesome

Has she heard Pedro’s voice? [the actor playing The Mandalorian]
That alone should be good reason enough

My mom really enjoys watching The Mandalorian.  She gets excited every Friday.  Even my grandma got into it

Love it!  I think the strong characters and the non-wussy women
are fantastic

I love the sense of humor

Honestly, I think that if it wasn’t for the way Mando protects the child
I wouldn’t be waiting impatiently for the next episode

I love the “space western” feel it has

Far too many men try to gatekeep us out of geeky things
We mustn’t do it to ourselves

It illustrates that a manly man can be a father

Love watching it with my 13-year-old grandson every week

Tell your mom in the Mandalorian way of life, women are equal warriors
and some of the most fierce and famous Mandalorians are female

It doesn’t make you less of a woman to like something

I count the minutes until the next episode

My mom loves anything and everything Star Wars.  And she’s 89-years-old!

I look forward to Friday nights when my husband and I get to watch
The Mandalorian

***

Sweetly said, everyone

Finding Home with Disney

So I bought a fancy new TV. It comes with apps installed, one of which is Disney Plus. I remember loving Disney movies all the way from Bambi to Frozen 2. But I wasn’t prepared for what I discovered after shelling out $90.00 for the year.

I wish you could see my face … my astonishment at the stories, the clarity of the picture and the wondrous computer-generated graphics.

My first foray into the programming was the film Strange Magic:

A realm is divided between a land of fairies and light, and a land of bog creatures and darkness, living in the dark forest. Primrose flowers, which are a crucial ingredient to love potions, mark the border between the lands. Marianne is a fairy princess and heir to the throne of the Fairy Kingdom, and is engaged to be married to Roland, a handsome warrior who disappoints her when she discovers him kissing another fairy on their wedding day. Marianne vows to never fall in love again. In the dark forest, the Bog King also shares the same view on love.

Spoiler Alert

Marianne and the Bog King, after much blustering and many harsh words, eventually fall in love … a state of being that has been absent from the dark forest. Residents there share in the emergence of tenderness. The sombre opens to sweetness. The feeling of home melts through the muted tones of night.

***

Today was the tale of One Strange Rock, also known as Planet Earth. Again, the visuals were stunning. Again, I was beckoned into an exploration of “home”. Peggy, a US astronaut, has gone way beyond Iowa in her thinking:

It was like I had lived my whole life in a semi-dark room and then somebody flipped on the light.

As a kid, Peggy dreamed of becoming a pilot. Her sister tried to set her straight. You can’t do that. Be a stewardess. But Peggy saw a wider future.

Home is our whole planet. And back on the family farm, Peggy’s mom and dad watch a light move across the starlit night. Here she comes. There she goes. And within the mystery of my TV screen, I go with her.

TV

Weeks ago I was visiting friends in Belgium. We decided to watch a movie in the family room, loafing on a bed-like couch. On came the film and open came my eyes. The clarity of the picture was stunning – all the details of faces and architecture were so clear. I just stared. My TV at home was a fuzz ball in comparison. Lydia didn’t think theirs was anything special but I sure did.

Okay … now why? What’s the big deal about sharpness of picture? Is it just so I can brag about having the best TV? No, no … it’s not a status thing for me.

Actually, why worry about the quality of TV reception anyway? Aren’t there countless other ways I could spend my time, ways that would be more life enhancing than watching some comedy show? Certainly. There’s a 1-1 conversation about what’s important in life. There’s a meditation session. There’s a walk in the woods.

While we’re at it, we can compare two paintings of a person: one is totally realistic, looking virtually like a photograph, while the other uses broad brush strokes to catch the character of the face. Surely there’s a place for artistic interpretation. And surely this can apply to TV as well – softness, blending, a pastel feeling … all can communicate beauty.

Yes to all of this. And yet I’m drawn to the crystal clearness that stood in that Nukerke family room.

Now it’s today, and I’m watching the Australian Open tennis tournament on TV. On my new LG OLED hi-def TV as a matter of fact. Belgium – meet Canada. Things have improved in my Belmont living room. I’m following the crispness of the tennis rallies with pleasure. But mostly I’m cherishing the close-ups of faces. Every little detail of skin and spirit is there. That’s what I want.

And what wonders await when I buy a subscription to the 4K movies and nature shows on Netflix? This consumer is about to find out.