05 October 2012

Television Time

Welcome back. Did you watch the Emmys last month? I missed it again. I heard this would be the final season of The Office. Being alert to current events, I’m aware of the show, though I’ve never seen it. I even know that the show came from the UK.

I don’t mean to come off snobbish about TV, and I don’t consider TV to be Minow’s “vast wasteland.” There are just lots of shows I haven’t seen.

Television Sets
An unused television.

We do have a TV, three actually. That’s a red flag to acquaintances who have none, but it’s also misleading to TV junkies since we only have one cable box, without which we couldn’t see anything on the one connected set.

One of the unused sets is a portable that hasn’t been turned on in, let me guess, 20 years. No charitable organization would want it; inertia prevents us from taking it to a recycler. The other unconnected set was used by our son, who’s now sampling post-college life. I forget why he didn’t take the set.

Antennas suggest many neighbors have or had Direct TV. Our cable service is good, though having to pay for an inordinate number of channels that we wouldn’t watch if threatened with bodily harm is scandalous and expensive.

Sampled Television Fare

Lots of popular shows have escaped my viewing--Seinfeld, The Simpsons, Friends, reality shows. Well, I did see a clip from the reality show Teen Mom, but it had my first cousin-once-removed. (She was great!) She wasn’t the teen mom (whew!); she was the therapist assisting the teen mom.

I also saw about 30 minutes of an episode of American Idol. I was traveling in a group of about 20. One evening, I wandered into a TV room, where many fellow travelers were crowded around a set, cheering and cheerfully disagreeing. It was the finale, they told me. Although spared from voting, I was introduced to their favorites.

Oh, I also saw most, maybe all, of an episode of What Not to Wear. We were with friends, who wanted to share their enjoyment of the show. Yes, clothes are important for one’s image, but to discover that TV viewers give a hoot about improving someone’s attire every week was enlightening.

Regular Television Fare

Long ago and far away, I might watch M*A*S*H, Cosby, Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere. Then I ran out of time, especially after moving to the Washington, DC, area, where my work schedule shoved evening TV out of bounds. Now, my only regular TV fare continues to be the news and the start of sporting events, presently, early innings of the Nationals’ games.

Since online sources provide much of my news, when watching cable news, I often mute the sound and watch the news tapes. When commercials overwhelm, I switch to Al Jazeera, whose news tape is usually the best in content and speed. (Fox's tape is either motorized by a turtle or the network underrates viewers’ reading speed. CNN’s tape is written by someone who tweets, often leaving me wondering.)

Wrap Up

We are endeavoring to catch up on missed shows. Typically, we set aside weekend evenings for DVD-watching, interspersing movies and TV shows. (We’re not streaming yet.) We got through most of one episode of 30 Rock and Boston Legal and the first seasons of 24 and Lost before giving up on each. We did well with West Wing and seem to be doing ok with the Mentalist and Bones.

Your viewing recommendations would be gratefully accepted. Thanks for stopping by.


A note about Teen Mom. I help out with a multi-generational website, Stage of Life (www.stageoflife.com), which held a writing contest for teens on why pregnancy rates have declined. A substantial number of entries included reality shows such as Teen Mom as a factor.

Here’s the Teen Mom clip with therapist Laura McLauchlin:

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