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I’ll admit it. I don’t like change. I’m the kind of person who eats the same thing for lunch everyday. I crave routine even if I fail miserably at achieving it. I’m also a bit of a Luddite. I listened to a Walkman until December 2006, and only switched to an iPod after a friend persuaded me to buy his secondhand. Somehow, the secondhandedness of the exchange made me feel better about joining the white-wired masses of the 21st Century.
All of this is to say that I’m awaiting the television premiere of This American Life on Showtime next week with both anticipation and apprehension. Will Ira Glass’s Zen-like voice translate to TV? Will it change my perception of beloved TAL contributors to attach their disembodied voices to physical forms? And what of the perverse pride I feel when I schedule my weekends around TAL broadcasts? Sorry, I tell people, I can’t hang out on Saturday at noon. My favorite radio program is on. And yes, I use the term radio program.
The thing about TAL, and perhaps radio in general, is that it’s a more intimate relationship than TV provides. Listening alone in my room, I like to pretend that I’m the only person privy to this show’s genius. Sure, all my friends listen to it. And, yeah, Summer Roberts made a condescending comment about it once on The O.C. But, sequestered away with Ira’s nerdy/nasal voice, it’s easy to think I’m the only one gaining insights into Americans’ quirks and foibles. Neither ahead of the curve nor behind, I picture myself on a whole different graph altogether.
Until now. If you’ve been reading the Post over the last couple weeks, or just about anything else for that matter, the fact that TAL is making its Showtime debut shouldn’t have escaped you. On March 4, Marc Fisher suggested the visuals for the show might work. “The TV version is designed to let characters reveal themselves as they do on the radio, by talking, at length. To make that palatable and even riveting on TV, the director called for pictures that are more formal than most TV, using wide shots, very pretty landscapes and a staged, posed aesthetic.”
What do you think? Can Ira and the gang survive the switch?