August 11 is the feast day of St. Clare of Assissi, admirable in so many ways for an example of service, self-sacrifice and austerity. Less well-known, however, is the fact that since 1958, the pope declared her the patron saint of television:
On Christmas night, 1252, the nun received the grace of seeing from her cell the Church’s celebration of Christ’s birth.Cardinal Bertone dubbed it “an experience of mystical television,” Vatican Radio reported.
St. Clare has been the patroness of Slayage: the Online International Journal of Buffy Studies—because Joss Whedon = quality television. And until April this year, she patronized a promising TV critic’s blog, Thank Heavens for St Clare.
Really, though, you don’t need a saint to figure out what’s quality television. You just need to use your discernment and change the channel as needed. That sounds like a license to channel surf. No. All right, maybe. I can tell in two to ten seconds that no one needs to watch Wipeout. Actually, I can tell just from the title. But a drama with a developing narrative arc will take some watching—maybe an entire episode, maybe two or three. Or six or seven. Not unlike the need to read a few chapters rather than just a page or two of a good book before deciding whether it’s really worthwhile.
Preparing for a new semester of reading both written and visual texts, then. And speaking of quality television, check out Mockingbird’s comments on the “lost” episodes of Dollhouse.