Seems like I'm taking everything personally today, so let's start with the most universal example and then spiral downward from there:
I often don't know what Madam & Eve is about -- it was SO much easier when South African current events were about global things like Mandela and the World Cup -- but today's is fairly self-explanatory, except that I have no idea if this show is any good to begin with.
On American daytime soap operas, which are nearly all gone now, the characters and writing are so generic that they have swapped actors regularly, with the exception of a few headliners like MacDonald Carey and Susan Lucci.
A woman I knew in college was on Ryan's Hope, which got me hooked on the show for the year-and-a-half she was in it.
She left during a storyline in which her character was hiding a reformed IRA gunman sought by his former comrades in a secret room off her apartment (soap opera storylines and apartment layouts being an area in which it is superfluous to say "I am not making this up"), and, when her replacement first appeared, it was a scene in which character and gunman woke up in bed.
I thought, given that he was in deathly fear of his life at every moment, he should have lept out of bed shouting "Who the hell are you?" but he didn't.
On the other hand, another swap revealed, I suspect, a little insight into how the writers felt about a particular actress, because she quit the show after her character was married, only to have her replacement come back from the honeymoon to be greeted with a cheerful, "Why, you've lost weight, dear!"
I really did get hooked on the show until, about a week after my friend left the cast, I suddenly said, "This is crap. Why am I watching this?"
I don't think commercial television shows can survive by making sure everyone in the audience knows one of the cast members personally, but a look at the Wikipedia entry for that one suggests that it may be about the only stratagem they didn't try.
"Generations" is a five-day, prime-time show, putting it more on a footing with "Coronation Street" than with either American daytime soaps or once-a-week evening shows like "Dynasty" and "Falcon Crest."
Or "Death of a Salesman" or "Iphigenia in Aulis."
This SABC ad-sales website has a video of clips which I suspect you should check out now, given that at some point they'll realize it features the cast they just canned.
I read today's Frazz and thought, "Yeah, kid, that problem never goes away" and then realized that, of course, it does for most people.
The first day of school was an event, a coming out after 10 weeks or so of vacation, and so how you looked mattered. Once you get into real life, you're lucky to be able to be gone for more than a week at a crack, so things like haircuts kind of fold into the flow.
Assuming you work in an office setting. For those of us who work at home, we may only be face-to-face with clients a couple of times a year, which means, yeah, we want to time our haircuts as indicated above.
Unless you are Frazz creator Jef Mallett, who has resolved the problem entirely.
(That's a screen grab from this 10-minute interview I did with him a few years ago, when he and one of my sons each lived in Lansing, Michigan.)
How suddenly strange
To end on something of a downbeat, today's Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal shows some surprising insight, though the quality of Zach Weinersmith's insights really shouldn't be all that surprising after you've read the strip for awhile.
Still, he is of a demographic not noted for its ability to reach across the Generation Gap or its compassion when forced to. But he's nailed this.
My late 30s/early 40s rocked, which is likely why my dream-self stays there: I was vibrant but knowledgeable and in my prime, and, if I could stop the clock, that's where I'd do it, but it was also a time when I continued to look forward in anticipation as much as I looked back in nostalgia.
I don't exactly look forward in fear and dread these days, but simply with the knowledge that, well, the party can't go on forever.
Here's what 64 is like: If you've ever driven cross country East to West, there's a point when you're out on the plains knowing that you should get to the Rockies at some point.
At first, you see something on the horizon and think it might be the mountains, but it turns out to be clouds that just fade away. That happens a couple of times.
Finally, though, the mountains actually do begin to come into view, but it is still a matter of hours before you actually get there.
It's always made me wonder what it must have been like for the pioneers, who had only heard about, never seen, the Rockies, and for whom it was not a matter of hours but of days, maybe weeks before they would get there.
I've thought of the increasing excitement of the kids, anticipating a change from the sameness of the endless prairies, but also of Dad sitting on the wagon box as the mountains loomed larger and larger, thinking "How in the hell are we ever going to get over those?"
At 64, you can see the mountains, but you don't really know how big they actually are or how long it's going to be before you have to figure out a way to deal with them.
And lucky the man who believes there are rich farmlands or plentiful gold fields on the other side, because, whether you plod there behind the oxen or race there in your BMW, turning back is not an option.
The older I get, the more I like oxen.