I don’t understand the new TV shows.
Well, maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. Shows such as “Cops,” “World’s Wildest Police Chases,” and “Judge Judy,” are fairly straightforward. Some of those programs even remind me of family members. But, I’m getting off track.
We’ve come a long way from “The Andy Griffith Show,” “Happy Days,” and “Touched By An Angel.”
I often wake up early and sometimes spend a few hours alone, which gives me complete control of the TV remote. This allows me to watch whatever I want, and frequently, it’s some of the aforementioned shows. In the evenings, my wife and I share the decisions of which shows to watch.
I will almost always watch reruns of the old shows when up early rather than any of the new ones. Together in the evening, we normally watch cooking, house fixer upper, the History Channel or survival shows. The rest of the new dramas or comedies, we generally avoid.
The new TV fare is either:
A) Above our intellect
B) Below our intellect
Possibly giving us too much or too little credit, I’m going to go with C.
My wife and I record most of the shows that we like on a digital video recorder (DVR). I personally believe that this device ranks right up there with some of the world’s greatest inventions, including the wheel, the combustion engine, and microwave popcorn.
The DVR allows us to watch programs at our convenience, either one or several in a row.
But many of the shows that we enjoy include commercials for new shows that, as I mentioned earlier, either are smarter than we are or most likely, just plain stupid. In some cases, they’re creepy and questionable.
Let’s take a look at a few comparisons of old versus new.
“The Andy Griffith Show.” It may have had Andy’s name on it, but there was no doubt that Barney was the star of the program. There was comedy, great acting, character development, clean language, and a moral to each story. I’ve watched every episode multiple times. The ones featuring Ernest T. Bass rank as some of my favorites.
Compare that with a show we recently saw an ad for called “Two Broke Girls,” and the contrast is stark. From what we could gather, other than the title of the show explaining the premise of every episode, it appears that they throw in some gratuitous innuendo and a few swear words, and that’s what you’re served each week by these two penniless young women.
“Happy Days” now seems completely tame. When the show first aired over 40 years ago, I couldn’t wait to see what fix that Fonzie was going to help Richie, Potsie, or Ralph Malph get out of. When I watch it today, it does seem a little hokey. But it still retains a nostalgic charm that varies only slightly from the nostalgic charm it was designed to parlay when it premiered.
My dad, who grew up in the 50s, said at the time that “Happy Days” was nothing like the real 50s. Having grown up in the 70s, I would later make a very a similar statement about “That 70s Show” when it aired in the 2000s.
Another ad my wife and I caught while watching the DVR, was for a show on Netflix called “Orange Is The New Black.”
Unlike “Happy Day’s,” which was set in in middle America and focused on young people trying to find their way into responsible adulthood, “Orange Is The New Black” is set in a women’s prison. There’s really no further explanation needed.
“Touched By An Angel” is still a good show to watch. Della Reese, Roma Downey, and John Dye, all great actors, would spend each episode helping that week’s guest star find the happiness or the life clarity that they sought.
Compare that to a new show on FOX called “Lucifer.” From what I can gather, because I refuse to watch it, the devil has become bored with eternal torment and opened a nightclub on the west coast.
So, it would seem that “dancing with the devil” has become more than a metaphor, if you’re willing to fill your living room with that sort of drivel.
In 1961, a controversial new head of the Federal Communications Commission, Newton N. Minow, gave a speech to the National Association of Broadcasters.
In that speech, he said, “…when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.”
He was demonized by network execs at the time.
But in my opinion, it would appear that Mr. Minow was correct. He was just correct 56 years too soon.
©2017 John Moore
For more of John’s musings, visit johnmoore.net/blog