Boomers — Take Two Aspirins...
Take two aspirins, hold your nose, and turn the channel [to C-Span]

By Bruce Bressack

Does anyone remember when TV wasn’t on 24 hours a day...or when 'The Star Spangled Banner', with Jets flying overhead, was played at the end of the broadcast day (also known as midnight)?

Everything I know [minor exaggeration] I learned from watching TV.

No, not the mediocre, self-deprecating, lowest-common-denominator, reality-less television that masks itself as entertainment today [while our cable bills rise faster than Tony Soprano’s temper on a good day].

I’m talking about the Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson, Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Dick Van Dyke...the yes, "television CAN BE smart, entertaining and educational, all-at-the-same-time-variety". 

Back then, we had a half a dozen or so channels, black & white mostly, but you could really learn something if you tuned in...

...whether it was Wally showing us how to be a big brother (or the oldest child)...

...or Beaver showing us that it was OK to make mistakes (because everything works out in the end, and always before the last commercial break)...

...or 'live television', where actors actually had to learn their lines...

...where plate-spinning-double-jointed-acrobats never dropped a plate (or showed a hint of nervousness)...

...and velvet-fogged-lounge-singers never missed a note (or an opportunity to sing right to us)... cuts, no edits, no second or third takes, no Bloopers and Practical Jokes.

Today, in our quest to fill every second of every day with ‘entertainment’, we’ve come to accept, and in some cases celebrate, what can best be described as ‘banal-retentive’ television.

You've seen it.  It's the 'Electronic Cesspool' where the commercials are more entertaining, have higher production values AND arguably better ‘acting’.

So, are there jewels out there in tube-land?  Yes, but so rare you’d think quality was a seven-letter word.

Here’s the Tom Wolfe ‘Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ ---

...Do you find yourselves quickly clicking through 100 channels, and then clicking through them again?

...Do you get the sinking feeling that there’s "nothing on" (other than those fabulous re-runs from the 50’s and 60’s)?

You now have proof that there’s no life on earth (intelligent or otherwise) worth watching on TV.

So, what can a 'television tube lover' do to get the real deal?

You have to go to C-Span...where they show it like it is, while it's happening (no cuts, no edits, no second or third takes, no Bloopers and Practical Jokes).

Is there hope?  Is there joy?  Is there life during marriage (just kidding Sue)?

Yes, there’s hope.  But for now, it’s time to turn on Nick@Nite and pray for re-runs of Leave It To Beaver, or Father Knows Best, or…well you get the idea.

We need some real ‘reality TV’, and we need it NOW!

—Bruce Bressack

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH