When television is good, nothing -- not the theater, not the magazines orWOW! Can you imagine what Newton Minow would say were he to return to his day-long sit in front of a television. Perhaps he would be astounded at the sheer variety of all the offerings, through cable and satellite. But I seriously doubt that he would find more quality programming than what was available when he decried the state of television broadcasting.
newspapers -- nothing is better.
But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally
unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder,
western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and
cartoons. And endlessly commercials -- many screaming, cajoling, and offending.
And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they
will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try
What would he think?
In the 1960s television had shows such as—Playhouse 90 and Studio One. They had hard-hitting news shows such as CBS Reports. They had variety shows such as “The Fred Astaire Show,” and “The Bing Crosby Special.”
What didn’t they have? Well, they didn’t have the umpteenth iteration of the Survivor series. Instead of hard-hitting news shows, now we have Dateline NBC, wherein NBC entraps men who are seeking sex with underage girls (or sometimes boys). I find such shows down-right creepy. Please understand, I don’t condone the behavior of the men caught, but there is something so off-putting at how the show goes about its “catches.” We have truly informative (ahem, not) shows such as Wife Swap, which is not what you might think. And, we have all of these great show offerings on many many many more channels than you could ever watch.
There was a time when I thought of history as linear—that things progressed, and in general improved over time. Well, television show offerings help me to adopt a more realistic approach. History is not linear; it is circular, or even spiral, and the direction is downward.