Academic readings and research need some kind of leisurely balance, like listening to news, music, watching TV shows and series.

When I offered the mass communication course at the University of San Jose-Recoletos, I needed to be familiar with TV shows and series to get the pulse of household entertainment, and required my students to critique them. It was also a way of relaxing.

The show “Eat Bulaga” became part of lunch light entertainment and games were suitable for various age levels and children were fun to watch. News and current events programs and channels like “24 Oras,” “The World Tonight” and CNN for international news gave round-the-clock updates on politics, arts, sports, education, etc.

Fantasy series enrich fairy tales, and children loved “Darna,” “Engkantadia,” “Pedro Penduko” and “Voltes 5.” I watched a few drama series which included some political and social practices like “First Yaya,” “Ang Probinsyano” and “Kung Mawawala Ka;” comedies like “Pepito Manaloto” and “John and Marsha;” talent shows like “Tawag Ng Tanghalan” and the Clash; plus other opinion, interview, show business and game shows, among others.

Aside from getting some relaxing or entertaining portions, most drama or comedy series use stereotyped plots, characters, scenes, settings, etc. It is common to see verbal wrangling with heavy physical bouts, the common “slapping” or shouting scenes. Tender moments usually end with warm embraces as scenes fade out. Dialogues are predictable. Same places, like homes, are just renovated and used many times in many dramas so you could predict where the stairs, kitchen and bedrooms are. In short, TV producers don’t spend much on props, minor characters, better scripts, etc. The attraction is on the leading stars. Extras look the same in many dramas.

Most TV shows cater to housewives. But maybe, they should consider some professionals, students or children who need to get learning experiences in themes, plots, characterization, setting and socio-cultural and religious values. The best of the Filipino culture, history and values must be explored as themes.

Of course, TV shows need logistics to survive but often the ads are longer than the scenes.

The Filipinos are creative, excellent performers. Our towns and cities have beautiful places for setting. True stories from history and Filipino lives are excellent items for plots.

The tri-media, specifically radio and television, have extensive effect on their viewers who seek for role models. For some time, “Gulong ng Palad,” “Ilaw Ng Tahanan,” “Kahapon Lamang,” and “John and Marsha” became household favorites. They were mirrors of the typical Filipino lifestyle, vision and mission. Then, television series turned to love triangles, romances, family conflicts, and some lost interest.

I don’t know whether this is good or bad, but we are flooded with so many Korean or Chinese television titles, where lip-synced dialogues don’t match.

Well, the TV mania will continue. But we need to learn from them as well. Perhaps, some TV or radio networks should maximize their practicum tie-ups with the academe. So many schools offer mass com, radio and TV technology, Filipino, English and literature courses. Then, maybe we can view epic or folk tale dramas, or, the likes of Nick Joaquin, N. V. M Gonzales or Aida Rivera Ford stories, the comedies of Carlos Bulusan, or, revive historical episodes of our heroes. We started these years ago but failed to sustain them.

During the long December-January blackout after Typhoon Odette, I had no choice but to listen to the radio for news using my small battery-operated radio. The station dySS was the most “accessible.” Bobby Nalzaro and Josenian Lloyd Suarez gave timely updates. But after the news, I tried to look for a music station and found none. I then realized that radio is as effective, or even more reachable than TV during emergencies. Remember, when June Keithley-Castro used the radio during the Edsa Revolution.

We can spend more time discussing the power of the tri-media in curbing our vision and lifestyle. “In My Diary” keeps a rich collection of TV shows. I use them as learning tools in literature and mass com courses.