What you will observe is a vast wasteland


#1

When television is good, nothing – not the theater, not the magazines or 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.

FCC chairman Newton Minow, addressing the National Association of Broadcasters in 1961

http://google.com/search?q=vast+wasteland


#2

Always room for another TV topic!


#3

I have been watching Timeless.

It’s like if Voyagers from the '80s was a political thriller instead of a lighthearted fantasy for kids. It’s not great. It’s not terrible. It might introduce viewers to some actual history they didn’t already know about.

For some reason they hired Matt Frewer but gave him an absolute nothing role.

Like seriously, do NOT watch this just because Frewer is in it.


#4

Frewer is the Zelig of TV SF. Or the Flying Dutchman. Or something. Did you catch him in the beginning of The Knick? It wasn’t SF but might as well be.


#5

Can I bring a razor blade?

But seriously, you don’t need to do that to yourself. Just turn the TV on at fifteen minutes before and after the hour and watch for five minutes, which should be enough to convince anyone of your premise. I always remind myself of Theodore Sturgeon’s observation that “ninety percent of everything is crap” (98% allowing for inflation).

Your list of crap has what to me is a serious omission - “reality” shows, which I find the most offensive and depressing of all.


#6

One of my favourite things to do when visiting the US is watch TV.
(The other is go grocery shopping.)

I’m not saying daytime TV in Canada is any better, we get all the same twaddle you get, Price is Right, Dr.Phil, Ellen, etc. Its just slightly different. The commercials are different. The shows are different. Its very much like the Twillight Zone. Almost the same, but just different enough to throw you off balance.


#7

Not my list, it’s a famous quote. I will edit to make more obvious.

Reality TV did not exist at the time.


#8

It is a guilty pleasure when travelling though mostly Adult Swim/Cartoon Network. If I could just get MeTV I would be tempted to subscribe to that solely for Svengoolie with a possible addition of TCM.


#9

I feel like the Cartoon Network hit a high point around the turn of the century, with the Powerpuff Girls, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Samurai Jack, Grim & Evil, etc.

Since then it seems like CN has turned away from its older viewers and tried to compete more directly with Nickelodeon.

But maybe not. Might be an artifact of what was going on in my life at the time.


#10

Samurai Jack is back! And on Adult Swim this time. For one season anyway. Hopefully I can get those by other means or be patient enough for the DVD.
Since I don’t watch except when on vacation I can’t judge too much.


#11

I should have figured that out. I knew the “vast wasteland” phrase, of course, but the reference to signing on and signing off should have clued me in. Now it’s a 24/7 wasteland.

I wonder what shows he was thinking of when he said “When television is good, nothing … is better.”. Not much from that era would qualify.


#12

He was always good in eureka.


#13

In one song, Laurie Anderson said of US culture “I mean, it’s weird when your culture can be summed up in 8 give away characteristics…” That’s certainly 2 of them! :wink:


#14

Is Svengoolie still on the air?

Also, people have heard of Svengoolie outside Chicago?

Both are surprising, in a good way.


#15

#16

Yes and syndicated… If I had cable I could see him on MeTV which is all old school TV…aaaand damn from looking at the website I can get it OTA well if I had an antenna and a proper tv anyway.


#17

Yup. Those digital converters the gub’ment helped us buy are still handy.


#18

The commercial landscape varies on where you are. I miss ads for all the herbicides I saw growing up in South Dakota.


#19

Only 9 years away at that point, though.


#20

Yeah but the signal went to shit after the conversion day. My minimal research says I need to mount an antenna on the roof… :cry: and that is too much of a hassle so the tube tv eventually went away. I wonder if I can rig up something that then hooks to a mini transmitter then I could just use a tv dongle on my laptop.