[ back ]
Something Worth Watching
Something Worth Watching
by G. E. Shuman
One cold and lonely evening last week, the kids were out, my wife was at work, and I did something that is quite unusual for me to do. I went to the living room and turned on the TV. Yes, I know how ridiculous it sounds, that turning on a TV is an unusual event, but I don’t do it often. It isn’t that we don’t use our TV, it’s just that I am nearly never the one who actually turns the thing on. I may stop in the room and watch a show with my wife or the kids, but it probably wasn’t my idea.
Years ago, for some reason, I seem to have wandered away from the very old habit of spending every evening in front of ‘the tube,’ as television used to be called. (These days almost no one has a TV with a picture ‘tube,’ except for our family and some guy in India, I think.) After that cold and lonely evening last week, I am beginning to believe that TV also wandered away from me, as much as I did from it. Please let me explain.
You see, I actually come from a time before there were hundreds of channels to watch, and even before TVs had remotes. Can you believe that? When I was a child we watched either CBS, NBC or ABC, and I still remember the three channels that those networks occupied on the ‘dial,’ in our area. On the ‘dial?’ What electronic device even has a dial anymore?
Don’t get me wrong, I was not in a coma for all these years that TV has evolved, or devolved into what it is today, and there are still some quality shows being made. I just remember, fondly, those days when there was a lot to watch on TV, just on those three networks. Right after the evening news with Walter ‘Crankcase,’ as my dad used to call him, the sitcoms, comedy hours, and evening dramas would come on. Those old shows, when they were new, actually stayed in their special weeknight time slots for years and years. You always knew when Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, and Archie Bunker would appear. The Wonderful World of Disney and Bonanza entered millions of homes every Sunday evening. Those shows, in those days, seemed almost a part of your family. Later, in the seventies, a show called MASH made it for ten seasons, and had fans so committed that they would miss their own birthday party to watch it. (Those were the days before recording video was possible in homes, and men chiseled pictures into the walls of caves.) As old as all of this makes me sound, I really think that kids now have no idea what they are missing, from the golden years of TV.
Things have changed so much. After I located the TV remote, on that cold and lonely night, (are you feeling sorry for me yet?) and the satellite remote and the surround sound remote, I scrolled through hundreds of possibilities of things to watch on the endless channel menu, and actually saw the following titles of today’s evening shows: Wife Swap, Dance Moms, Easy Wrinkle Miracle, Brazil Butt Lift, (that one actually intrigued me a bit) Live Jewelry Deals, Best Vacuum Ever, Improve Prostate Heath (wow), Insanity Workout, Easy Wrinkle Miracle (again, in case you missed it the first time), Trisha’s Southern Kitchen, Swamp People, The Dead, Beautiful Bedroom, Property Wars, Cake Boss, Mad Money, Balding?, The Beauty of Snakes, (and my favorite) My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding. Really?... I mean, REALLY... REALLY?
Saddened to discover that I am an unenlightened dinosaur, incapable of appreciating the merits of these wonderful shows, (after all, someone actually produced them) I picked the remote back up, searched the sea of buttons until I found the one with the ‘off’ icon, and pushed that thing, hard. Where is Red Skelton when you need him? (Kids, remember that name, buy a disk of his old shows, and laugh your keesters off. If you know what a keester is.)
When the satellite dish contract is up, I might just rip that thing off the house and mount it on the front lawn, with its little gray bowl pointing straight up. I think it will make a wonderful bird bath. At least then it will finally bring me something worth watching.
[ back ]