Saturday, March 04, 2006

Too Much TV, Not Enough TDs

I watch too much TV but I don't get enough TD (touchdowns, as in a good result). The other day when I was channel flipping once again, I was as usual disappointed in the lack of interesting choices. As someone who grew up in the era of three major channels (through VHF) with a couple of minor UHF to go along with the big three, the addition of cable was at first a huge widening of TV choices. But over the years those choices seem rather empty.

I started thinking about what on TV do I actually look forward to watching, which would be a standard for a desire for the medium, and actually I had trouble developing a substantial quantity, not even considering quality. Now bear in mind I only have the basic cable service, mainly because of reluctance to pay more money compared to whether the price would really be worth it. Would enough of the added channels attract enough interest to cause me to dig deeper into the wallet? So far, the debate has been won by the wallet.

The following is the TV I look forward to watching, but I need to begin with a sub-category of programming that isn't part of regular time slots.

Sports...I enjoy sports to an average degree. I have a tendency to be a realistic "homer" in that I don't invest as much of my time to local sports teams that are losers. For instance I have barely watched the Detroit Lions in the last decade, but I enjoy the Detroit Pistons and Red Wings. The Lions may be an eternal special case as they have sucked for so many years that I'll probably never care if they win. As a lifetime baseball fan, even as the Detroit Tigers haven't been winners in many years, I'll still tune in to enough games just for the joy of the game and memories of better seasons. Locally I'll also catch Michigan and Michigan State college football and basketball, but not devotionally. National sports tends to bore me except for the ending of seasons. I really like the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. But unless a Detroit team makes the playoffs, I don't pay much attention to professional endings.

Award shows...don't watch them.
Movies...I like movies.
Commercials...I hate them with such passion that I will flip away from them or read a book/magazine instead of watching them. Plenty of times I'm on the computer while watching TV, so I will pay attention to the computer rather than commercialize.

Now the regular schedules in no particular order, the following is stuff I look forward to these days.

1) Lost, ABC...OK, I'll admit it, I'm one of those devotee's that can't miss an episode. Although I'm getting a little frustrated at the slowness of the storyline.

2) Washington Journal, C-Span....This program runs from 700am to about 1000am every day. It is a political talk show of sorts that allows for viewers to call in their comments and questions of the guests. They have a different host for each day and all of them are completely neutral. They have times where a question relating to current events is posed to viewers to comment on. They have times where guests ranging from politicians to think tankers to public interest group representatives to international commentators to reporters to even a celebrity or two. They usually set up the call-in lines as "support Bush," "support Democrats" and "support others." I don't always enjoy this show as it can be boring at times, but I almost always try to catch a little of it each day.

3) News, various...I'm not real happy with news coverage, but I need to know things and see how the mainstream media spins the stories. I balance my national news between CNN and MSNBC and almost never FOX News. Local news on occasion.

4) Comedy Central....John Stewart's "Daily Show" is a big favorite of mine. The new show following his is great as well. Stephen Corbert former Daily Show regular fake TV reporter is the host of a parody Bill O'Reilly style show called "The Corbert Report" (the two T's are silent). Running back to back makes this one fantastic hour of political humor.

5) Science Shows...One long standing great science program that I've watched for years is "Nova" on PBS. I'll flip to the Discovery Channel or National Geographic Channel when they have an interesting new program, but these two stations can be frustrating with plenty of repeat programming and pseudo-science programming, like investigating bigfoot.

6) History Channel...When the history program is real, not the endless UFO shows they broadcast.

7) My Name Is Earl, NBC...I get a kick out of this offbeat comedy as well as the following time slot show, The Office.

8) Sit-com reruns...Reruns are good because they are the best of the best of long ago series. I have no problem laughing at some of my former favorites. Among them are, Seinfeld, MASH, Dick Van Dyke Show, Andy Griffith Show, Leave it to Beaver, Cheers, Friends, and a few others. It's hard to say I look forward to these, but they work as fill-ins that stand out among the range of crap across the cables.

9) The West Wing, NBC...Although I've missed much of this season because they switched it to Sunday nights, but I'll catch up on it through reruns on Bravo.

10) Frontline and Now, PBS...Two very good news magazines. Frontline covers only one subject in each hour program, which allows for very detailed investigation. Now was better when Bill Moyers had one hour, these days the show is only a half hour and Moyers is gone, but they still have a progressive slant investigating government and business.

11) Sunday Morning political shows on the big networks...They all basically run at the same time so I flip around to the one that has the most interesting subject matter or guests. I tend to like ABC's This Week with George Stephanopolis and NBC's Meet the Press coming in second.

12) Monk, USA...That Monk dude cracks me up.

13) Late Night Talk...Too often I can't catch these programs but I like them when I can. David Letterman has always been a favorite of mine, and Jay Leno is just as good.

14) Law and Order, NBC...Only the original show. I'm not one bit of a fan of Law and Order SVU, or to annoy a friend of mine Law and Order SUV (they catch murderers that drive big vehicles).

15) The Red Green Show, CBC...This a Canadian comedy, but a laugh riot. A show about a sort of country Canadian Elks Club. Red Green is the "host" and star of the show and is famous for his down to earth advise.

Well, that's pretty much it. Looking up at this list it does seem like alot of TV, but due to my work schedule I can't be a regular viewer of all of it. I depend on some of these choices as being rerun at other times than original broadcast. Also others in the home trump my choices.

TV is a double edged sword. It entertains and informs, yet makes us disengaged homebodies. I've struggled with that sword my whole life. TV is the defining invention from the 20th century if you ask me. No other invention has affected the lives of Americans more for both good and bad. Certainly I've been one of those Americans affected or infected in ways that I don't probably fully understand.


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