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The Fiction I Enjoy

We celebrated the start of our four-day holiday weekend by watching three adaptations of Jane Austen novels. These were the "good" versions, written by Andrew Davies and produced by BBC with the "old" A&E that cared about Art as much as Entertainment.

Pride and Prejudice remains my favorite Austen work, and the Davies script is a reasonably loyal adaptation. I have to state that I like the dialogue of Persuasion, and Emma is a masterpiece — so self-aware that it can border on being something of an Austen parody of Austen. (I do not like Mansfield Park and cannot recall Northanger Abbey, I admit to some shame.)

A few days ago someone mentioned that I must love science fiction.

No. I don't love science fiction. I like it, but I do not own many works of science fiction and my entertainment choices are more likely to be cartoons and romantic comedies.

I enjoyed the first Star Wars movies, but I'm not an obsessed fan; we don't even own copies of the films, unless my wife still has VHS tapes somewhere. We watch Doctor Who, but I can't recite trivia from the series. I don't believe we've watched the new Batman movies, and I know we didn't watch the last two X-Men films.

My favorite films include Pleasantville, Notting Hill, Casablanca, and The Majestic. During the Christmas holiday, I watched two versions of Les Miserables, including a wonderful 1934 version in French. It was brilliant, much better than the English musical that is a shadow of the novel.

Musicals are great, with some notable exceptions the popular tastes. I do not like Les Miserables nor do I like Cats. Rent is painful. I like the classic musicals, from the Golden Age of Broadway. Give me Showboat and West Side Story. I do appreciate Phantom of the Opera, and Chess has great music, though it is a relic of its time. I've seen Bye Bye Birdie several times, and West Side Story at least twice. Film versions of musicals are okay, but they lack the energy of a live performance. At the same time, the old "big production" musicals can be a lot of fun. The 1954 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and the Streisand 1969 Hello, Dolly! are personal favorites — though my wife would rather not be asked to watch these with me.

My television series tastes are limited. I prefer police procedurals and courtroom dramas. I dislike most comedies, with the notable exception of Modern Family. I believe I used to enjoy Cheers, Frazier, and M*A*S*H. Who doesn't consider M*A*S*H one of the best shows of all time? It was brilliant, on many levels.

I like cartoons, from Disney to Warner and everything between. One of the benefits of my age is that the 1970s and 80s were a Golden Age for Saturday Morning cartoons and reruns of all the great cartoons of the past. I remember Rocky and Bullwinkle in the mornings and Scooby-Doo in the afternoons. On weekends, we had Bugs Bunny and the Super Friends. What a great time to be a child.

Yet, people seem to assume I must prefer hobbits and droids to romance, musicals, and cartoons.

Maybe there are some singing hobbits in love, with an animated dragon accompanying them?


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