July 14, 2003

Beginning of the Road

By Dane Sorensen


In a world that seems crazed by watching too much reality TV sometimes ignorance is bliss. Odd term, reality TV. What is so real? Does the public think there really is not any advanced planning to these shows? Does the public think the Osbourne's are not working hard scripting their real moments on TV? The same spontaneity is just as lacking in TV shows where groups of people are placed in remote places and forced to live without TV. I heard on the radio, for I do not watch broadcast television, that the next Survivors Show will be two teams comprised of all girls on one side and all guys on the other. I am sure it will be hyped as a Battle of the Sexes. I thought that had been decided back in the 1970's when Billy Jean King beat the pants off of Bobby Riggs. I guess this shows how square I am.

It has been nine years since my family gave up on broadcast TV. We never did fall for the trap that Cable offers. It all coincided with our move to Ely. We left Minneapolis just before the first broadcast of Friends, a show I have never seen. Jon Luc was still at the helm of the Enterprise and MTV still played music I could relate to.

I have no idea what is so hot about Buffy the Vampire Slayer or what the premise is to Scrubs. I wouldn't recognize a new TV star from the last five years if my life depended upon it. My kids are a little more in tune with today's world of TV, but not by much. With two daughter's racking up A's in college they have little time to bother with the unreal lives of the beautiful people on "Friends."

Now don't get me wrong. Television is a marvelous invention. We have a 5000 pound 38 inch HDTV in our home. Television brings the world to you. The trick to quality viewing is to realize that much of the world is not worth watching, especially worlds created by today's Hollywood and Corporate TV Executives.

Much of what we watch in our Cable-less home are movies and old television shows from the 1960's. We are especially keen on British Television from the 60's. The BBC's Glory Days were in the sixties. I have no idea why. However, the Brits managed to create a bevy of shows that even were aired on American Prime Time.

Long before Scott Adam's Dilbert captured the horrors of corporate culture there was Reginald Iolanthe Perrin. We have the complete set of The Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin. My favorite episodes are those where he starts Grot, a shop that sells things absolutely useless at very high prices. He ends up with 50 shops and hopelessly bored. Reggie invents the idea of modern angst.

My children know every Monty Python routine by heart, as well as almost every episode of the Avengers. I only have the shows with Diana Riggs, truly the most beautiful and aristocratic spy to ever be on TV. Our latest craze if Rumpole of the Bailey. My children have been secretly referring to their dear Mum as "She who must be obeyed." You need to say the phrase with a strong bombastic accent.

For light entertainment there are the classic James Bond films or perhaps a pre-1960's American film such as High Society with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra.

So many people complain about the wasteland of Broadcast and Cable TV, but they still tune in. So many people allow their children's brains to be filled with so much dribble. Much of the dribble is from commercials that use every means to convince your family they must buy some stupid thing in order to be cool. It is possible to control the garbage. I would advise any parent who was interested in raising their child's Cultural IQ to cancel the Cable and buy good DVD or Videos. Along with high values concerning education and behavior, protecting your children from the mass media is one way to insure they will develop as individuals and not be part of the herd. Reality starts in the home not on television and as a society we need to put TV in its proper place.


     Return to Index of Beginning of the Road Column