Monday, March 7, 2011

Desperate for Dexter

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin this week.

The first television I remember was black and white and very large. Its convex and shiny grey screen was surrounded by a wooden console and it sported two rabbit ears and several knobs the size of tiny tea cups. I have photographs of my older brother and I sitting transfixed in front of that screen when we were very young.

My family had strict viewing habits and so, during childhood I managed to miss much of what was televised. Like most typical American families we all watched together. After dinner on weeknights we watched Walter Cronkite. On Sunday nights we watched Ed Sullivan. On the off-chance I spent a day home sick I watched Romper Room with my younger brothers. An occasional treat was watching Jack Bailey’s Queen for the Day or Bill Cullen’s The Price is Right at my mother’s side.

My family didn’t watch many sitcoms or serialized television. It was simple. There was one television in the household and my father preferred war movies and westerns. Being a girl and a pacifist, I didn’t relate to war, guns, bows or arrows. I turned to more interesting things like sewing and reading and organizing my fabrics and bookshelves instead.

You might say that I missed out on an entire generation of American culture as it aired on neighboring television screens. Oh, I admit I found ways to sneak in an episode of Dobie Gillis or I Love Lucy somehow. I mean, I did manage to grow up normal. I often sat glued to my girlfriends’ sets like any deprived child would. In their homes I watched enough of The Fugitive and Flipper to satiate my appetite. But there are still huge gaps in my cultural education.

What was left out were most serialized TV shows. My philosophy is simple. If I can’t watch an entire series from first to last I simply do not want to watch at all. I guess it was a leftover from childhood when I experienced a TV land that seemed so out-of-sync.

It’s left me in the dark. At least a dark that has no trace of the glow of a TV screen.

So, now, how in the heck did I get mixed up with Dexter? At least Dexter: Seasons One through Four.

Sometime last spring I decided I was just too far out-of-the-loop. I was tired of missing out on all the great references to Charlotte on Sex in the City or to Jon Hamm, the handsome Mad Man. I asked this of my entire group of Facebook friends: “If you had to watch one series, which would it be?”

If you want to feel loved on Facebook, try this approach. Your cup will runneth over. Who knew there were so many series out there to follow? Who knew everybody else was watching them but me? Who knew so many people were so passionate about television!

Dexter was the number one suggestion. (If you know anything about Dexter you might wonder about my friends, by the way.) Dexter is also based on a book, “Darkly Dreaming Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay.

I took the bait and I got hooked. Luckily, most past seasons of all television shows (cable and otherwise) are available on DVD. There are many options for viewing. Premium cable channels offer them “on demand”. Netflix allows immediate streaming of some past seasons.

Best of all, most of them are available at your local library. Libraries in the Minuteman Library Network carry an impressive array of television series that are often available right on the shelf of your library or after a short wait once you’ve made the request. April Cushing, the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library has been trying to purchase the best and most-requested for our library. It’s impossible to keep up with all of them all but we try our best.

Given all of these viewing options, however, I found out the hard way that there is always a catch. Now that I’ve completed watching the first four seasons on DVD, I’ve found that Dexter’s clever producers have conspired against me. The fifth season (aired this past year) will not be released on DVD until this August right before the sixth season of Dexter is scheduled to be run on Showtime.

And so, I’m Desperate for Dexter. I’ve complained bitterly to friends and family who helped to get me hooked. “Oh, we understand,” they’ve all admitted. “But,” they cheerfully add, “this is the perfect time to get hooked on yet another series!” Oh great.

While I await the release of Dexter, Season Five (August 2011) I’m ready to ask my friends for a next suggestion. “But, please,” I’ll beg, “make sure all the seasons have already been released on DVD so that I can request them from my library!”

For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for all library materials including DVDs and television series, please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website,