«The most accurate context in which to place television programming is that of general religious ritual. Unlike court etiquette or specific types of drama, religious ritual is designed to satisfy everyone. Like "Leave it to Beaver" or any other sitcom, religions at their very heart are classless. Like television, they eschew surprise, particularly creative surprise. Instead they flourish on the repetition of known formulas. People are drawn to television as they are to religions by the knowledge that they will find there what they already know. Reassurance is consistency and consistency is repetition.
Television -- both drama and public affairs -- consists largely of stylized popular mythology in which there are certain obligatory characters who must say and do certain things in a particular order. After wathcing the first minute of any television drama, most viewers could lay out the scenario that will fallow, including the conclusion. Given the first line of banter in most scenes, a regular viewer could probably rhyme off the next three or four lines. Nothing can be more formal, stylized and dogmatic than a third-rate situation comedy or a television news report on famine in Africa. There is more flexibility in a Catholic mass or in classic Chinese opera. [...]
Television has become the daily religious service of the modern world.»
-- Voltaire's Bastards , p.454