Sep 14, 2008

life was so much easier when there were only three TV networks

It was, folks, a simple time. ABC, CBS and NBC. That's all you needed to know. The schedule stayed the same from week to week. Albeit the holiday variety show specials were slipped in there, along with holiday movies like "The Ten Commandments" around Easter, and "The Wizard of Oz" around Christmas. Growing up, we could always get two of the channels to come in nice and clear; for the third, someone would always have to go outside and twist the antenna pole around. This usually involved two people, one who got to stay inside the house and yell out the window to the one turning the pole. "No. More. Good. Yes, no, back. More. Yes, that's it. STOP!" (Ironically, not a string of words you would have heard on TV back then.) No channel hopping happening here, as the pole would have to be turned again. And there was no remote. Sometimes, when there was enough wind, it would blow the silly antenna around and the TV screen would be turned to snow. Usually right at the good part.

The dramas, the comedies, the movies, and the variety shows (the MTV of the early years?) all aired the same day of the week, at the same time, for half the year, until the dreaded repeats. Once the repeats started, we could choose one of the other channels and watch that offering, unless we wanted to watch a repeat, which was not usual. Before the days of VCR's and TiVo, repeat season was an opportunity, a window into another network, of things unviewed. New seasons always started in September. No Ifs, Ands or Buts about it. September. We looked forward to September. The first week of September meant memorizing your TV watching schedule, and that was good for six months by golly gee.

I find it hard to watch TV these days. I forget there are more channels out there to choose from, although I'm trying to expand my horizons and go above Channel 13 on the dial…er, the digital thingamacallit. My house has basic cable. That is enough channels for me to get confused about without adding in all of the premium channels. How does anyone find time to figure out what and when something is on all those channels, much less find the time to watch. It is all so confusing. Season Premiers can now start any month of the year, episodes can be repeated within days, sometimes the same day. A season is not necessarily 24-26 episodes, it could be 12 or 13. And I've seen hiatus' so long that I have actually forgotten what the show was about or that it even existed. Think (Battlestar Galactica.) Note to self, better look that up at the TV Guide dot com to make sure I don't miss it when it finally returns. Of course I've forgotten everything that happened sometime last year, when we were put on hold.

I have attempted to make a conscious effort to learn the nuances of modern TV watching, but I have to admit, it is not going so well. I have learned to move above the Channel 13, and now I go all the way up to 27 (Stargate Atlantis and almost anything else on SciFi is good for me), and beyond, up to 46 (The Closer and Saving Grace on TNT). The sad part is, every time I find something on one of these mysterious double-digit channels, and I like it, it gets canceled. I'm still, after six years, smarting at the cancellation of Firefly (FOX, which is Channel 10 here, and within my antiquated viewing range, so I was always able to find it). I've almost made it a habit to not watch anything new, and if it doesn't get canceled, then get the DVD's. Back in the day, we hung in there, and new shows got a chance. Of course, there were only two other competitors, and coming in at #3 on the ratings chart didn't sound so bad, did it?

These days, my favorite TV watching is in the form of boxed DVD sets. I don't have to worry about when or which channel something is aired. Of course, I have to wait, but the simplicity of watching the DVD's far makes up for the wait. However, I usually just pick up a book (I almost said good book, but we know that's not always the case) which I can enjoy anytime I want, for as long as I want, and then if it frustrates me too much, unlike a TV set, I can throw it.

Vintage Portable Television image copyright Diane Diederich at iStockPhoto.

2 comments:

Roughnight said...

Just give it up Princess. You are definitely TV challenged. Go back to your books. Make me some supper first.

Princeton McKinney said...

Aye, Cap'n. Would you be mad if I wanted to do "Bad Things" with Bill?

(RE: True Blood, HBO on Sunday nights.)