Thursday, August 31, 2006

Baskin Without Robbins

Writer Susan Baskin has a very charming article in the L.A. Times about returning to the first show she wrote for, "Remington Steele" (though she'd previously written the Oscar-winning short film Violet), and discovering that it's still good after all these years. The article has some nice observations about the way in which, in today's environment, works of pop culture go through the usual stages (from successful to forgotten to "classic") much more quickly than they used to -- so that a show that's only 20 years old can somehow seem like a beloved classic from a different age.

Unlike my own kids, I didn't grow up in a media-saturated culture, where cashiers, as well as studio heads, can recite weekend box-office receipts. You turned on the TV and images appeared on the screen, like magic. You never wondered how. Now there was magic of another kind, seeing a world made real because of the words I'd written.

I did other episodes for "Remington Steele," went on to different shows, wrote films for television and features. "Remington Steele" went off the air.

Just the other night, I watched the DVD, special features and all, for the first time. As I listened and watched, I realized that in the paradoxical way our culture discards its products ever faster, only to reclaim them in order to savor — and profit from — the past, "Remington Steele" had become something timeless. Like memory.

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