Sunday, October 9, 2011

There's a bad moon rising

If it is October, it means we are currently experiencing one of the most difficult and horrifying parts of the year. That's right: it is the start of the new television season for the major networks.

This can be a dark and foreboding time. Maybe I am an entertainment snob, but most of what is served to us by the television networks is garbage. Most of it is lightweight and lacking merit. These shows are the equivalent of eating dry toast. They are satisfying in no way and are forgotten as soon as we consume them.

The refreshing part of this is that many of the new shows will likely be cancelled by the time this posting ends. Networks tend to have a quick trigger finger when cancelling new shows and that can be good because many of these terminations are mercy killings.

Still, it never ceases to amaze me that we have so little good entertainment on television these days. The amount of television programming we have access to has exploded during the last 30 years.

When I was a boy, cable television consisted of viewing three stations out of Nashville, Chattanooga, and Huntsville. That was it. Back then, this access seemed like an extravagance, but it was nothing compared to what was to follow.

Beginning in the late 1970s, we got access to 24-hour-a-day movie, sports, and news channels. For a time, it felt like we were exploring an entertainment frontier, but soon, the novelty of it all faded.

Today, we can have access to hundreds of channels, depending on what type of channels we subscribe to. I only have access to about 60 channels on my cable package, but I must admit that I only watch a handful of those.

Some nights I aimlessly surf my channels, looking for entertainment. However, most nights I am disappointed.

The explosion of 'reality' programming has contributed to this lack of entertainment. While there are a few good reality programs, most seem uninspired. One evening, I spent some time watching one channel that dedicated most of its programming to shows in which cars were repossessed from people.

I'm not kidding. The plots of these shows consisted of employees from repossession companies going to get cars from people. Inevitably, people would see their cars being taken, and they would run out and confront the workers. Profanity and violence often followed, and then I realized that I just wasted 10 minutes of my life watching that.

How am I going to get those 10 minutes back? Of course, I can't. It was yet another entertainment decision gone up in smoke.

I'm not naïve enough to think that those shows actually reflected reality. The confrontations appeared staged, and the people involved played for the cameras. So, it's come to this? Fake reality programs?

Reality programs are not the only culprit. There are a lot of bombastic and over-the-top programs. Many of the news and sports programs presented to us are a lot more sensationalistic than they need to be.

Many mundane news stories are presented to us as if they are of vital, national importance. The slightest tilt in the stock market is covered as if it is the end of life as we know it. I know the market can be a good barometer of where our country is economically, but sometimes investors just need to grow a backbone and calm down.

The older I get the more I realize that I am happier when I turn the television off. It can be a bad presence in my house.

Maybe I am the only one who feels this way. However, I don't think so.

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