remember the premise......i'm old.
tv is different now from when i grew up. we had andy and opie and aunt bea, and ozzie and harriet, and donna reed. those wholesome family shows, in a much simpler time were, well, simpler. (don't get me wrong, i don't spend a lot of time pining for little opie and andy and barney fife, or was it barfey nife?). after all, it was a cute show, as were many, but with very few intellectual challenges abounding, even for a 5 year old.
there were others, just as wholesome, but with decidedly different family structures, and one day i'll write about the family way, as i grew up in front of a television.
these days i watch some tv. oh, not like those people where the boob tube, (how many remember calling it that?) is on all day, every day. (that would interfere with my many other distractions, like the computer, email, twitter, facebook, ipod, and such, and of course, work.......and we couldn't have that now, could we?). i know people that get out of bed in the morning and turn the tv on. anything. whatever. just so as not to be alone with their own thoughts, i'm guessing. stuff like game show reruns. imagine, old game shows on the game show network, like password or family feud with that kissing idiot, whatshisname, a one-man mononucleosis factory, if ever there were one (who did he fuck to get that job?) just so the tube is on and there is ambient sound in the room. and that's enough for them.
not so, me.
i have a lot of viewing options, as do most likely most of you. there are literally hundreds of channels. so many, in fact, that if i don't have a plan, i can start surfing at say, 7:00pm, and still be searching at 7:30 and will have missed a half-hour of tv while i was watching! (that somehow seems metaphysically absurd, doesn't it?). anyway......
to be sure, the tv formats haven't changed much. used to be cop shows like dragnet, and hawaii five-o, and kojak, and now there's law and order, CSI and NCIS in a dozen select cities (is it an honor or a comment on how hideous your town is, if there's an NCIS named for your city? miami, new york, las vegas, los angeles etc). used to be lots of sitcoms, amos and andy (now unbearably politically incorrect, never to be found in rerun heaven), all in the family (why wasn't that also equally condemned?), and in recent decades roseanne, mash, seinfeld, friends, designing women (my particular favorite), frazier, and the like. now, there are literally hundreds of such shows and some of these are great classic shows, separated from the run-of-the-mill, average, mouth breather comedies, by one thing and one thing only. WRITERS!!! i can't stress that enough. it doesn't matter who you put in a sitcom, if there's nothing funny to say, it will die. same for drama. same for dramedy (oooh, new late 20th century word). same for rom-com, bro-com, etc. think about it. even though it's almost 500 years later, we still read shakespeare. why? good writing. so one of my big snobberies is...and i'm a little alone in this......i will not watch a show that has no script. which of course, brings us to the reality genre. i'd say don't get me started, but duh.......i've already started................
i think it all began with survivor. the producers took a gaggle of very greedy, vicious people, and supposedly put them on an island somewhere outside of civilization, and we watched as they turned into animals, and then turned on each other, and lied and cheated and stole and conned their way to stay on the island. (of course, this island had a full film crew, and i suppose medical people, if things got too out of hand....one injury or bug bite and all that litigation, you know, and with that bunch on the island, there were bound to be lawsuits). also on hand were costume people, make-up people, wardrobe people, commissary, hotels, etc. (just out of camera range), so this deserted island was itself a hoax. but somehow people found it fascinating to watch a hideous subsection of our society with the appropriate amount of strategically placed mud on their faces, devour each other, figuratively, not literally, of course.
not so, me.
(as fate would have it, the first year's winner, i believe, destroyed his competition, was the lone survivor, won the million bucks, and the the i.r.s., to put it delicately, had their way with him. i love irony, even when it's not scripted.) there was no show script, and quite frankly, watching people pass a torch on a dimly lit island when they ought to be swimming to try and get the mud off of their faces, is not my cup of boullion. it was, however, a hit, and tv producers everywhere rejoiced in the fact that they thought they no longer needed to pay writers.
and, so popular was this bloodsport that it spun off dozens of other like-minded shows and a genre was born. there were more survivor locales, reality dating a la the bachelor, and subsequently, bachelorette, fat people dieting for money and prizes (and food, i imagine), extreme home makeovers, (which is just poor people envying other poor people because now that they won a home makeover, they don't have to live like poor people anymore), people swapping wives, people worried if they're smarter that a 5th grader. (i am, by the way, and i was when i was in 5th grade. why would i worry about that now?), and people giving up their children to strange women pretending to be mary poppins, calling themselves, nannies.
did you ever see that movie, late in bette davis' career called the nanny? well, that'll teach you to give your kids to a crazy person.........
and now on to my very favorite shows to hate........the ones where they sing and dance.
in my day, (there's that old lady phrase again), we used to have ed sullivan, where actually talented people hawked their wares, like the beatles, the rolling stones, joan sutherland, the moiseyev dance troupe from russia, the bolshoi ballet, elvis, and lots more. ed could really assemble some hot acts. and there were variety shows as well, with singing and dancing. even the jackie gleason show, once it went to an hour and in color, featuring a honeymooners sketch each week, had the june taylor dancers in a segment. (i'm waxing a tad sentimental right about now.)
what do we have today? wait for it....you know this one.....AMERICAN IDOL. personally i can't abide that show. the first half dozen episodes of each season is devoted to.......what? the shit we really, really don't want to watch? the worst of the worst? people who can't carry a tune in a bag? (paper or plastic?)...and they're on tv....remind me again....why? and then many episodes of variation on survivor, meaning, one by one, week after week, one gets voted off the island... i mean stage. til there are the 2 or 3 left that the producers wanted all along (that voting crap is just that......crap), and so we, or rather they, (i don't) watch and listen to what amounts to the prettiest or oddest singers screaming!! they sing songs the titles of which i know, but they warble with such melismatic chaos, that i don't recognize the actual song. (i definitely know that mariah carey started that style of singing and i didn't like it when she did it and i don't like it now, thank you very much). and everyone who i know who purports to be a fan, all tivo and fast forward the entire show except for the songs. the screaming part. WTF? (yeah you do it.....you all do it). and simon......poor simon.....such an asshole, and such a public one at that! they say he's the guy you love to hate. no he's not. he's just the guy you hate! and paula abdul. can you spell insipid? no, no, no. i don't watch it, and i don't tivo it for selected horrible highlights. (when did tivo become a verb? ever think about that?)
side note: nouns becoming verbs. that's an entirely different blog post. start with parent, tivo, disrespect, impact, the list goes on)
and perhaps lastly, after singing, comes dancing......come on, you know this one too.........i'll wait for you.......i gave you the first word...........DANCING WITH THE STARS............which is technically not really dancing and they're not actually stars. i think to qualify as a star, you should at least have been a b player in failed sitcom, no? (like earl holliman in that delta burke series, delta, or david alan grier in that other delta burke series,... dag.......ok, ok, i'll blog about delta burke another time. i do so love her.) at least they had a prominent part in a regular, albeit short-lived tv show. you say stars, i think streisand, redford, harry connick jr, george clooney, julia roberts. but emmet? (ok, he's kind of a football star, but really more of beard dye-gel star). jerry springer? (talk show host, former mayor of a minor city?), kate gosselin? (whose claim to fame is her uterus?), buzz aldrin? (ok, he walked on the moon, but he can't even walk on earth at this point). ladies and gentlemen, i present to you, all of them genuine bona fide stars. (my ass). and the dancing? with bruno screaming between paso dobles standing on his desk like a petulant 5-year-old with ADHD? with carey ann in her infinite wisdom giving advice to astronauts on how to cha cha cha? (who the hell is carey ann anyway? she's not even a star, and they're paying her! come to think of it, neither is bruno, or the old arthur treacher wannabe, whatshisname. we have non-stars judging and giving advice to other non-stars. (are any of you beginning to understand why we need WRITERS AND SCRIPTS???? because without them, you have idol, dancing and shows of that ilk.
no, the tv i watch is minimal. about an hour of news a day (i don't like it and i don't know why i do it. probably for the same unnamed need that draws me to read and hate the daily newspapers). i watch a lot of movies. they're not better, per se, than what anybody else watches, they're just......you know.......... scripted.
and sometimes, when i'm channel surfing, and i land on a seinfeld classic or a friends great rerun, or lucy doing vitameatavegimin, i will pause and watch a bit, and maybe even get a little misty-eyed, and nostalgic, and to be completely honest, i'll always pause a moment for aunt bea.