A wise man once said, “I was born at a very early age.” I came into existence in 1952, which makes me a part, albeit an early part, of the TV generation. All my life I have lived in the glow of the “boob tube,” which in the 50s did not refer to the Playboy channel. We had exactly 4 stations: NBC, ABC, CBS and PBS. That was it. And I NEVER was at a loss for something good to watch! I remember waking up Saturday morning so early I would lay on the couch and watch the test pattern which preceded the first show of the morning. I know this is foreign to almost everyone who blogs or reads blogs, so here it is. Notice the Indian head near the top, a most politically incorrect symbol if ever there was one. We didn’t care, Indians were cool. In fact, once the shows started, we would see several of them shot off of horses as they circled the wagons of the all-white, good guy cowboys. History now tells us that about 30 percent of cowboys were black. Hollywood was apparently unaware of history, much less political correctness.
Programming would start at 6 am with Robin Hood, followed by Gene Autry, then Roy Rogers. Gene and Roy were pretty good about not shooting Indians, that would come with the afternoon movie classics. After Roy was Sky King, the story of a modern cowboy/pilot who would chase bad guys with his twin engine plane. Even at that early age I was not sure why, when he would fly low over the speeding car of the bad guys, they would duck and cover their heads. He’s not going to hit you, you idiot. That would make him crash. Early TV shows were not strong on logic, much like current TV shows.
After Sky King came Fury, the story of a boy and his horse. Then came Rin-Tin-Tin, the story of a boy and his dog. Much later would come Lassie, the sappy story of a boy and his dog. Lassie was not bad in its early years, when Tommy was the kid. But somehow he disappeared and was replaced by Timmy who was just plain wimpy. And what was the deal with Lassie whimpering all the time. I have a dog who is not a hero or a TV star. She is just a dog, but she doesn’t whimper.
Today I have a satellite dish which, even with the cheap guy package, gets over 170 channels. It takes longer to go through the line-up of shows than it used to take to watch shows. And on any given day there is absolutely nothing worth watching. Unless you are my wife and live and breathe shows about home repair, home sale, home change everything while the owner is in Vegas, then comes home to have a heart attack because they have ripped out his ceiling fan. I am not sure what decorators have against ceiling fans, but they never leave them in. Anyway, the guy comes home and has a heart attack and the next time you see him is on a reality show set in an emergency room.
A lot of people I know love the History Channel. I find this perplexing because none of them liked history in school. Apparently seeing the Goths behead men and violate women is much more interesting than reading about it. I wonder if the same phenomena would work for math? Maybe the Algebra Channel is the next great entertainment venue waiting in the wings? “Stay tuned as Johnny solves for the variable x.” Lord, I hope Nick at Night is showing Rin-Tin-Tin tonight.