Without today’s safety standards, it was said that at age nine months, I hopped myself in a bouncy chair (some contraption on springs without safety belt) over to the TV and turned it on (1956). My mother, who was in the kitchen at the time, heard the sound of the TV, ran out of the kitchen and came upon me, happily watching the box. Since that time, my relationship with the required home appliance has gone down hill.
In between, I had a love affair with Romper Room, Perky Platypus and Mary Jane (for those of you in the South Central Pennsylvania area) and Captain Kangaroo. I had affection for Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Mr. Magoo and Rocky and Bullwinkle (okay some F-Troop too). I watched my share of McHale’s Navy, The Addams’ Family, and Green Acres—they were all a hoot. Later, the Monkees played heavily in my Monday night schedule.
In high school, I invented a curfew, so that I could watch Johnny Carson’s monologue, rather than endure heavy petting that my dates finally and much too late screwed their courage to advance. Had they started at nine p.m. rather than eleven, who knows what would have happened? As it stood, Johnny and I had a date. My blind parents never knew to whom my true affections allied, and they were worried!
In my college years, TV held no appeal. In my mid-twenties, after work, I caught up on a lot of reruns I’d missed, mostly MASH, which I admit I loved, as I did “Moonlighting” with Sybil Shepard and Bruce Willis. After that, I had kids, and TV went the wayside.
In my thirties, TV meant kids’ TV. I have to admit that I was impressed with much of it. When I saw George Carlin as the conductor on “Thomas the Tank Engine,” followed by Ringo Starr when George “retired,” I was impressed. My son didn’t know, but he was privileged to have seen those two doing what they did best. Then, Sesame Street had its charms, and I was thankful my kids could watch a show of that quality.
Then, they grew up and I abandon TV. Once I was free to choose what I wanted to do with my time—TV wasn’t a consideration—it became last place in my priorities. Why?
Absorption: TV sucks people into its monotony like a hypnotist. My kids absorbed twenty years of my life. They were my priority. Why would I allow some “thing” to absorb me once I was free?
Advertisements: Out of every hour of programming about twenty minutes is devoted to selling the audience products. No, thank you.
“Real”shows: Aren’t. Even HGTV, which I watch with girlfriends on occasion, isn’t real. HGTV now uses its subjects to advertise products. You’ll see the happy couple trying to buy their first house, and then when the commercial break comes, that same happy couple promotes a sponsor, which I consider over-the-top blowing every bit of authenticity the network purports. In novel writing, it would be much the same if the author included a Jeep in the manuscript and then every third chapter inserted a Jeep advertisement. Turn me—off.
Noise: I’ve heard that the FCC is now clamping down on TV stations, which increase the volume when commercial breaks happen. Of course, the FCC allowed the networks to increase the volume—all for our convenience. Refrigerator-foraging TV watchers couldn’t hear the TV during breaks unless the networks blasted the TV volume so the FCC authorized volume increases—deafening most people. I called and complained. They assured me that they were within their legal right to do so. Why did I ever think the government worked for us?
We’re not all slobs who must clean out the frig at every commercial break. For most, who stay seated, the Mute button got a big workout during commercial breaks. Now, the FCC will be decreasing the volume increase that networks can assault us with from programs to commercials. About time—ya’ think!
My sister-in-law and daughter assure me that there are those shows like “Office” and “Monk” that are worth watching. Me? I’d rather read. Take the $115 per month for satellite TV and put it on my book budget. Oh yeah!