FILM CYNIC | The small screen keeps getting bigger

What's Up film columnist Bronsyn Springer assesses the big screen in the living room.

The expanding size of TV screens — coupled with the popularity of DVD, cable and satellite systems — means most of us get the majority of our cinematic pleasure at home. While there’s certainly an appeal to getting out of the house and hunkering down with a crowd of strangers in front of a 30-foot screen (the lights, the sound system, the obnoxious kid kicking the back of your seat) it’s also nice being able to hit the pause button for a snack run or a longer gaze at Orlando Bloom’s close-up.

I also know, as a parent, it can be very difficult to get to and stay in the theater for any movie that doesn’t feature an animated lead. So more of us are plunking down our pennies for the largest television screen our homes can handle without succumbing to a lifetime of headaches.

One of the benefits of a big-screen TV is big-screen TV. In other words, larger-than-life television shows. And with DVD and Tivo, TV can be a true cinematic experience, meaning the Geico lizard, the Money Tree caterpillar, and the Dominoes Pizza guy won’t be interrupting your entertainment. Actually, most movie theaters aren’t even commercial-free these days. I enjoy the previews, but Pepsi ads shouldn’t be allowed past the lobby.

I watch almost all my TV on DVD. I love being able to pop in a show whenever it’s convenient for me. And since I avoid reality shows the way many politicians avoid reality, almost everything I like can be found on disc. Here’s just a few of the TV shows that have earned a place on my shelves.

Why, oh why, was “Firefly” cancelled after a mere 14 episodes? I know there’s plenty of “Firefly” fans out there who empathize with me. After all, it’s the fans who got the follow-up movie made and how many short-lived TV series get that? At least all 14 episodes made it to DVD and they’re a must-see for anyone who loves sci-fi. “Firefly” successfully blended science fiction with the Wild West, creating an all-too-plausible future about a small group of vigilantes on the losing side of a civil war running goods through the colonies of a new star system and gettin’ into a mess of trouble. You won’t find any aliens or a lot of techno-babble, just characters so endearing you’ll want to line the top of your computer with their action figures.

HBO has made about half of my favorite shows. It is constantly raising the bar and proving that television writers can demonstrate a high degree of literacy and still gain an audience. Shows like “Deadwood” and “Rome” not only provide more action than “Dancing with the Stars” meets “Girls Gone Wild,” but they also serve up a more palatable and memorable history lesson than Scholastics ever provided.

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is “Nip/Tuck.” This highly stylized show is about two attractive plastic surgeons craving authenticity in the artificial world of cosmetic surgery. “Nip/Tuck” is graphic, over-the-top, and just plain naughty. But, if you can withstand the sight of blood, this show is tastier than an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

None of these shows are targeted toward the innocent. Their R-rated content will leave a stain on the spotless, so make sure the kids are asleep before popping in your DVD.

If you are looking for a show that’s kid-friendly, my favorite is “Little Einsteins.” It’s aimed at the crayons and paste crowd but I find it entertaining and educational even in my advanced years. It’s an animated adventure that incorporates classical art and music into each episode and is the best written kids’ show I’ve seen. Instead of fast-paced eye candy or action sequences to gain attention, “Little Einsteins” gives its young audience the intellectual credit they deserve.

Television has come a long way since the days of three stations on a 12-inch black and white set. Some argue that this is a bad thing, since the 100+ channels cable offers are littered with more junk than the mailbox of an average suburban homeowner with a Victoria’s Secret credit card. And others would rather lose their couch than lose their clicker.

For me, nothing beats a pause button and a special feature or two. Now I’m going to check to see if my Netflix delivery has arrived. I’ve got a date with a bowl of popcorn and the polygamists on “Big Love.” WU