Tuesday, June 21, 2016

TV or Not TV

Edward Abbey
Lately I've been trying to watch more television, but I’ve been failing miserably.  In fact, recently I sat down with the intention of working my way through The Walking Dead. I cried during the first episode, when the guy is trying to kill his zombified wife, who is now wandering about the neighborhood and freaking her son out. The next episode had the Sheriff and his new posse, rubbing zombie body parts all over themselves to disguise their own odor. ("Careful not to get it in your eyes".) Naturally, they dragged the scene out and concentrated on the grisly hamburger-like body parts, as they were hacked from the torso by the brave Sheriff with a fire axe. I had to shut it off. It didn't help that I was snacking. Needless to say, I lost my appetite pretty quick.

I love to turn on Netflix while I'm snacking (also known as the midnight munchies.) I've got nearly 500 movies and television shows in my Netflix queue, as if I have all the time in the world. Most times I finish my snack before deciding on anything to watch. I'm more likely to put the remote controls aside and pick up a book. If I had cable I’d be watching too many Mariners’games. There was a time when folks watched so little television that they would hide it with a decorative cover between shows. Watching TV shows was a family event in the beginning. Now, with smart phones, watching entertainment is often a solitary activity. A one-handed solitary activity.

I've always been more of a movie watcher than a faithful follower of series television. The last show I watched every season of was Battlestar  Galactica. I got through three seasons of Breaking Bad, but I haven't taken the time to finish it. I've heard how great Mad Men is, and people swear by Parks and Recreation; just not the first two seasons. There's Justified, Rectify, and a little project called Game of Thrones. I loved BBC’s The Detectorists, but there were only six 30 minute episodes, so I cannot really claim that as much of an accomplishment.

The All in the Family installation at the Smithsonian Institution
I grew up with some great television: All in the Family, The Bob Newhart Show, The Rockford Files, M*A*S*H, and my all time favorite, The Andy Griffith Show. I’ve lived through VHF and UHF television, wiggling the rabbit ears in an attempt to get better reception. If you wanted to stay up all night, watching TV, you were out of luck, because channels went off the air around one o’clock in the morning. Soon the middle of the night was filled with infomercials. I’ve seen the rise and fall of Betamax and VHS, Blockbuster and Hollywood Video. The movie rental shops are now the Maytag repairmen of their day. Now we’re all streaming our entertainment directly into our homes and hence our brains.
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I guess I would label the above essay a fluff piece. I have lots of serious and heavy stuff on my mind, but it's going to take some time to sift through the detritus and attempt to make something creative out of it. Until then, I'll be selling books, reading books and spending lots of time on my deck stargazing or cloud-watching, depending on the sky.

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