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Thursday, May 23, 2002

The day had a Friday kind of feel to it, for some reason. Maybe it was the weather, so warm and sunny at last (and not for long, I hear). It could just be that I got through my Thursday to-do list and most of Friday's, so I can probably take a little personal time tomorrow. (I won't, though. I'll get caught up on my filing, most likely.)

We're heading into a three-day weekend. Maybe my mind is getting a head start on it. My body certainly did. It overslept by nearly an hour this morning. If it thinks it can do that again tomorrow... well, I just might let it.

One reason it doesn't seem like Thursday is that there was no Survivor tonight. The May network ratings sweeps ended last night, and we're left with the scraps and leavings of the programming menu. Anything the networks think people will watch has already been used up, and they have a few months to burn off the dregs. They'll show us things we've already seen, or didn't watch the first time, plus whatever they thought wasn't good enough during money time.

With so many entertainment choices available, there's little reason to watch lousy network television. I do anyway, though. It takes me back to my childhood, when there was only NBC, ABC and CBS. No Fox, no MTV, no HBO, no pay-per-view, no VCRs, no DVDs. And everyone you knew watched the same shows, so it was a way to connect with people.

When the Beatles were on The Ed Sullivan Show, everybody watched and everybody talked about it the next day. But everybody watched The Brady Bunch or Lost In Space every week and talked about them, too. It was just there, part of the landscape like traffic and the weather. It brought people together like nothing in today's fragmented culture can.

And it's not as if the programming was any better back then. It was actually better in the 1950s, with live drama and specials that were called "spectaculars," than it was in the 1960s, when the networks could throw out anything and get a third of the viewers to watch. Fragmented we are now, but the variety means that there's almost always something that'll hold my interest.

So why do I still watch network shows like Friends and NYPD Blue, when I have so many options? Partly because I think they're good shows. You'll notice I didn't include Baby Bob or Fear Factor. I'm aware of the bad shows, but I don't watch them. I'm glad they're out there, because people have different tastes, but I make choices based on what seems like quality to me. And remember, I used to watch The Brady Bunch and Lost in Space, back in the day when there was a new episode every week.

But the other reason I still pay attention to the networks is that I remember the sense of community we had when the choices were fewer. It makes me feel like part of something bigger when I know millions of people are feeding off the same wave length as I am. Movies are great on DVD, technically stunning and all, but watching them by myself (which I do, a lot) seems somehow colder and more removed than watching ER with my 50 million friends.

But not this week, because it's a rerun.


Same bird, different photo.

Watching TV isn't the only thing I do, but it's part of my solitary lifestyle. Even if the summer season doesn't hold any pleasant surprises, I'll be checking out what the networks offer come fall and giving them a chance to keep me watching. At least I know the telenovelas will keep on going and going and going.

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Latest recommendation:

C. Throckmorton, May 22, Hooter in the Hall of Justice, Metal Mammaries, Tin Tits

Recent recommendations can always be found on the links page.

One year ago: Too Many Straws
"I got louder and a bit strident. And clearer. 'No' is pretty clear, I thought."

Two years ago: General Legerdemain
"I'm neither an accountant nor a mind reader. But I work cheap and have a vested interest in keeping the Boss satisfied."

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"Good and bad," I defined these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow.
Ah, but I was so much older then,
I'm younger than that now.