30 September, 2011

Reflections on Network TV.

This is all because of Star Trek Voyager.


I'd like to point out that I've never really watched much TV. Never seen The Sopranos or the West Wing, barely knew LOST existed, and, frankly, the one time I tried to sit through Sex in the City I thought WTF? People actually like this crap??

(Please don't be offended if you're a fan, I am just so far removed from New York, fashion, or being single that it was like watching a show of aliens doing alien things. In their alien language. Nowhere near a cornfield.)

Anyway, growing up and into my adulthood, I occasionally had one TV show that I watched, at least to the point where I looked forward to the day and time, and made plans in my life accordingly. One. Show. At a time. Not 'Fab Fridays' or whatever. Just the one show. SOAP was a must-see fave. Twin Peaks (oh, the flowcharts and character-plot-dissections I made) was another. And Voyager... Yup, it was a third.

I can't think of any *since* Voyager, at least none come to mind, (well, maybe the Goren and Eames episodes of Criminal Intent, which rock) but back in 1996 I was totally, completely hooked on happenings in the Delta Quadrant.

Then our local Fox affiliate quit buying the rights to show the new episodes. My one show, after a cliffhanger season ender, was gone. I was distraught, upset - not quite as upset as I was with Twin Peaks' cancellation, but close - and I frantically sent letters and searched far and wide for some way, any way to get my Voyager fix.

Very few stations picked it up that year (I think it was season 2??) but WSBK in Boston carried it. I lived in Iowa, though, and didn't know a soul in Boston who could tape it for me. Our local Fox affiliate was immune to my pleas, as was the cable company, but, lo and behold, there was a brand spanking new satellite dish company, Dish Network, that listed WSBK as one of their upgrade channels.

Because I get rabidly attached to a TV show roughly once a decade (and because I'm relentless when I'm fixated on something) my darling husband agreed to check into it (spouse speak for 'I'd better agree to this or she'll never give me any peace') and, right about the same time, like that very DAY if I remember right, a local radio station ran a promotional offer for this newfangled Dish Network. One phone call and a couple of days later, I became one of the very first Dish subscribers in Iowa. Seriously. Me, who didn't even watch TV, other than Voyager, of course.

This was back when internet service, at least for us, was dialup, btw. 28 baud or some crappy speed. Us getting a dish was a hugely big technological coup.

Yes, I know I'm spoiled. I do.

Anyway, I'd missed a good hunk of that season, but by-golly we had Dish. Voyager (spoiler alert!! ;) ) finally made it back to the Alpha Quadrant in 2001, and I went back to not-really-watching TV. My family watched, though, shows like MXC and South Park and some screwy ass thing called Cow and Chicken. (I pretty much hated Cow and Chicken. I'm sorry, but Cow bouncing through life with her udders bouncing along with her was just wrong on so many levels just thinking about it makes me cringe). Life moved on to Sponge Bob, CSI reruns on Spike (along with Voyager, wooohoooo!!!! who cares if it was on at 2am, it's VOYAGER!!), and crappy SyFy movies. We dragged the dish with us to the wilds of northern Iowa, upgraded our system a couple of times, and, even as the originally cheap fees steadily grew (and, for me at least, the TV was mostly background noise), we remained constant subscribers despite a hundred channels with nothing on (as Bill liked to say).

Until about a week ago.

With Bill's diminished hours at the posty office and rising prices on everything else in our universe, we decided to let Dish go. It was a luxury, and we didn't need all those channels anyway. Not even WSBK. So we cancelled our service, and promptly discovered that despite having digital TVs, we couldn't receive anything up here. Nothing. But static. And, once, a really grainy episode of Matlock.

So we bought an antenna - gasp! - a big, shiny aluminum monster that could supposedly pick up the signal all the way from Des Moines. It's mounted on the garage now. With its assistance, we receive 5 networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, and THIS) plus three separate public television stations that show the exact same things. Despite it being 'on the list' the ION channel out of Newton is just too far away. All of the stations have additional 'kinda crappy' affiliate channels (1 to 3 more, like our FOX is 17.1, 17.2, 17.3) I find this perplexing. Why have these other subordinate channels? All Iowa weather? What's the point in that? Channels with sound but only a blank black screen? That's like radio. On TV! I do, however, really like how one channel is nothing but music videos!  It's what MTv used to be! Cool.

Like Spock, I squint at it and mutter, "Fascinating."

This week I half-watched auditions for X Factor. I'd never seen a 'talent reality TV show' before. Weird and sad, all at the same time. Why show the obviously awful entrants? It just seems cruel. I doubt I'll watch any more. I saw Aston Kutcher debut on 2 1/2 Men (which we'd seen in reruns) and, yanno, he seemed just like Kelso (on That 70's Show, also only seen in reruns). Saw the premier of TerraNova (other than Laura insisting we had to watch 2 1/2 Men during TerraNova's third quarter so I missed the kids getting chased by dinos) and it was a lot like a cardboard SyFy movie. Watched some PBS. The local news (first time in more than a decade) and a couple of things on daytime TV. Was vastly disappointed in The Chew.

Anyway, we've only had 'Broadcast TV' since Monday. It's just background noise now, if it's even on at all. I think the best thing we'd found was M*A*S*H reruns. Even my nearly-addicted-to-TV daughter isn't watching.

Maybe one day they'll rerun Voyager. Until then, I'll leave it on the music video channel. :)


Monica J King said...

I never have watched much television, could take it or leave it. My daughter is addicted to it and I recently got a TIVO so she could record watch her programs during the new limits I've set.

What I'm finding fascinating is the horrid reality TV. She loves cupcake wars--every blessed week, folks compete making cupcakes. Cupcakes! And the scary toddlers and tiaras! And all the monstrous bride shows! I saw the edges of Jersey Shore once and immediately took it off her watch list, it was so terrible...but the sad Hoarders draws me like watching the same awful train wreck over and over.

Television is the Devil.

Kat BM said...

you know I'm mostly rewatching B5 right now. now that is good stuff!!! We do watch Castle on Mondays and Project runway on thurs. as a family, and I'm very fond of glee.. even if last season had very strange moments. ( this season seems more on track!) And we all netflex a great deal. I really don't watch as much as I use to, but it's usually on in the house as background (and ds9 was better than vogager!lol)