So, one of the prompts for the Writer’s Workshop this week is
What are you watching? Share your favorite summer programming so far.
We don’t put much variety into our nightly TV watching. Up until this week, we watched Wheel of Fortune (with the sound off, because the sound of the wheel drives Mary crazy), Jeopardy!, Alaska State Troopers on The Justice Network, Happy Days and Gilligan’s Island (again, with the sound off), then two episodes of Hogan’s Heroes, Carol Burnett and Friends, and Perry Mason until we either go to bed or fall asleep in front of the TV. I say until this week, because a local TV station (literally: both their studio (a storefront in a strip mall) and transmitter (on Sweat Mountain, about a mile from the house) are close by) has managed to get its hands on some of the original episodes of the nighttime Password, You Bet Your Life, and What’s My Line? that they’re now showing at the same time as Alaska State Troopers, so we’ve altered the lineup some. I’m especially enjoying the old episodes of Password. I watched them when I was in kindergarten, and fell in love with Betty White around the same time Allen Ludden did.
I know you want to ask, “why aren’t you watching [insert name of show here] and watching all that old TV?”
For one thing, we got rid of cable about two years ago, so we basically get what we can get with an antenna, meaning most of the local channels and subchannels. (Unfortunately, this excludes both of Atlanta’s PBS stations and their subchannels.) We’re using an indoor antenna; it’s not the best solution, but neither of us wants to climb on the roof to mount a good outdoor antenna, and besides, it’s not that important to us. That was why we got rid of cable: the TV is there to make noise while we read or play Two Dots (me) or Candy Crush (Mary), and we weren’t watching most of the cable channels but paying for them.
The other reason is simple: we no longer belong to the 18-45 demographic that the network programmers bend over backward to accommodate. As a result, none of the shows are all that interesting. We like NCIS and NCIS: New Orleans, but that’s about it. None of the sitcoms are that funny, even The Big Bang Theory, which seems to use Sheldon’s autism as its chief source of humor, and the dramas… enh.
I get it: we’re at the age where the only advertisers interested in us are AARP, law firms doing some ambulance chasing, companies selling life insurance to pay for our funerals, and companies selling various medical products, including prescription drugs, scooters, knee braces, diabetes testing supplies, and my personal favorites, incontinence products and catheters, “shipped discreetly.” (I always have the image of a UPS man walking up the stairs with a bright yellow box, stamped “OPEN IMMEDIATELY – INCONTINENCE SUPPLIES” in two-inch-high letters on all four sides.) Fine, they don’t need us, we don’t need them. We’ll watch TV shows from when they did care, although most of these aired before we were eighteen.
In fact, some of them aired before we were born, specifically the shows on WATC TOO (that local channel) on Sunday night: The Avengers, with Patrick MacNee and Honor Blackmon (these are kinescopes of the original show), Sherlock Holmes, starring Ronald Howard as Holmes, H. Marion Crawford as Watson, and Archie Duncan as Inspector Lestrade, and The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene as Robin and the aforementioned Archie Duncan as Little John. They also carry the original Dragnet series with Jack Webb and Hal Gibney.
When we quit cable, I was amazed how many channels were dedicated to vintage TV shows. Obviously there’s still demand out there for them, or maybe it’s just these channels have 168 hours to fill. Whatever the case, we appreciate it.