The Self-Righteous Brothers*


When I was growing up there were a number of hard and fast family rules.  Dinner was at six, no phone calls would be made (nor received) after ten PM, no going out on school nights.  And, no watching television during the daytime.  Over the years I’ve managed to shed most of these constraints.  I  generally eat dinner whenever I want to; weekdays and weekends have increasingly lost their line of distinction; and on the rare occasion that there’s someone I want to call or the even rarer instance when someone wants to speak to me, I’ve moved the needle to eleven PM.

But the ban on daytime TV watching stays in place.  It’s not so much a matter of, “Old habits die hard”, as it is my inability to re-wire a deep-seated belief that watching television during the daytime is an activity for residents of nursing homes, prisons and other institutions that I want nothing to do with.

Because of my self-imposed ban on day light watching, I find that I look forward to the winter when evening comes earlier.  Which means that I now have license to watch with abandon beginning around 5PM or even earlier.  And in just a few days, the winter solstice will arrive and darkness will descend at its earliest time of the year.  You can bet that I’ll be poised by the TV for a golden opportunity to make a real dent in the shows that I’ve saved on my DVR.

In the 1960’s the head of the FCC, Newton Minow, was famously quoted as saying that television was a “vast cultural wasteland”.  And he was right.  Back then, there was no cable television and the networks pretty much catered to the lowest common denominator in choosing which shows were aired.  Most of it was crap.  And apart from WNET’s (PBS) Omnibus, there was no recurring high falutin’ programs available.  With the advent of cable, all that changed.  Which in turn has forced the networks to produce better shows than ever before.

So with all this good stuff to view, I have a huge problem trying to get to it all in the period between sunset and bedtime.  For example, Sunday night is crammed with more than any one person can reasonably watch.  There’s The Good Wife, The Good Life (aka Downton Abbey), Newsroom, Masterpiece Mystery, Girls, True Detective and someday The Larry David show may reappear.  It’s too much for me; even on this coming Sunday, which will have the shortest day time of the year.

"Okay . . . let's try speaking more slowly."

“Okay . . . let’s try speaking more slowly.”

I used to be apologetic about watching television but I’ve long since determined that a lot of it is much better than reading a mediocre novel; and certainly no worse than a lot of movies that I see.  I’m also getting very efficient in my watching; I almost always record the commercial TV shows so as to be able to fast forward through ads.  But the ploy that I’ve discovered that saves me the most time is that I now watch all British shows using closed captioning.  So now, when I watch an Inspector Lewis I don’t have to be constantly rewinding to find out what the f**k James has said.  This means I can see the entire show in an hour and a half instead of the four or five hours it used to take.

Of course, I occasionally slip and watch garbage.  My biggest offense has been in viewing Shark Tank, a  show where fledgling entrepreneurs dry to get investors to partner with them in their business.  Apart from wasting my time, watching it has made it all but impossible for me to maintain my endearing “holier than thou” stance regarding anyone who would waste their time with “reality TV”.  Believe me, this has been quite a price to pay.  But the damn show is sooo addictive.  I now think I can understand why people can’t quit narcotic habits.  I just wish there was an equivalent to a nicotine patch to wean me from the show.  Or maybe a gizmo that would give me an electrical shock whenever I turn on Shark Tank.  Hey, what a great idea!  Wouldn’t that be a fabulous business to bring to the Tank? I bet I could raise some serious money. Jeez! Do you see what I’m up against!?

Yet another show has recently been added to my routine.  A few weeks ago, Luap turned me on to a fabulous NPR podcast called, Serial.  Essentially, it’s a weekly show re-examining a murder and the ensuing trial that took place about fifteen years ago.  Naturally, I was concerned about how I was going to be able to squeeze this into my schedule. But then it hit me, it’s radio!  The Stein family never had a rule about listening during daytime.  Isn’t it amazing how sometimes things just have a way of working out!

* This is just one in a random number of posts where the title has nothing to do with the content.


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