And I'm not talking about the "gee, I should really turn my life around and be a better person" type of inspiration, though that's not a bad result for entertainment to have. No, I'm talking about the type of inspiration that leads to new ideas. Creativity.
I just finished watching the second season of Dollhouse on DVD. Literally just finished. Two minutes ago. It inspired me for story ideas for a book series idea that's been slowly developing in my head. And on paper. I'm not stupid enough to think that I can keep track of all the ideas I have for it in my head. I write it down.
There are two television creators who have been truly inspiring. For me anyway. One would probably be rather surprised to mentioned in the same sentence as the other, and the other is dead. Joss Whedon and Jim Henson. Joss created Dollhouse, Firefly, Angel, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along-blog and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Jim is most know for the Muppets, and rightly so. However, he also came up with Sesame Street, the Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. The one thing Jim has over Joss is that, at least to me, he is the "better person" inspiration as well as creative inspiration.
What works do I find inspirational? Let's see. The Muppet Show. Dollhouse. The Dresden Files series of books by Jim Butcher. Starman by James Robinson. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan. Top Ten by Alan Moore. The Nightwatch series of books by Sergei Lukyanenko. Bestiario by Julio Cortázar. Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro. Singin' in the Rain (not sure of the director or writer). M*A*S*H (the TV series). Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
There are many others, I'm sure, but that's a pretty good sample.
I like it when I'm reading a book or watching a DVD and I have to stop so I can write down a brainflash I just experienced. I'm sure it'd be rather annoying for those around me who aren't having the brainflash, but that's ok. I'm sure they'll understand. Or tolerate it.
It's not surprise that those works I find inspiring are also generally emotional experiences for me. I like having an emotional connection to my entertainment. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy "mind candy" as much as the next person, but I enjoy the cerebral element of entertainment so much more.
I just finished watching Dollhouse on DVD, but the inspiration it gave me is going to take me places I can't even imagine right now.
And that is good entertainment.