Categorized | Our Town

Inside the Circus: The Boob Tube

Posted on 18 January 2013

Lately, I’ve been questioning my need for a TV remote.

Since I’m starting to doubt if I really need the TV it controls.

Don’t get me wrong, I love watching it — television programming, not my remote — but that thing they send you every month with a hefty number emboldened towards the end seems awfully large. In the past they were referred to as “bills.” Now I believe most monolithic conglomerates are calling them: Personalized Electronic Tree Saving Service Statements.

And that number towards the end seems to grow ever so slightly each month. It’s subliminal. Subversive. But soooo not worth spending an afternoon on hold between instructional robots as my chest tightens and my left arm grows numb. Or is it my right? I can never remember life’s important little lessons for remaining a member of the, I’ve Got a Pulse Club.

First on my list of reasons for cutting the cable — commercials.

Yes, I know. With a DVR you can fast forward past them like Night Varnish Carrying Mosquitoes (Please don’t tell me you haven’t heard of the latest — and frankly, most troublesome — mosquito-carrying virus! Google it. You’ll never leave your house again).

But the fast-forward button on my remote has been ground down to a flush nub. I need to use my thumbnail to really get down in there to make a difference. We all know that accurately avoiding a block of ads (while employing all four forward-facing triangles) — then nailing the dismount on the first frame of your program — is a highly valued, rarified skill.

Ironically, one of the most annoying commercials is for some high-tech TV remote featuring a prominent button with what looks to be a curiously familiar, swirly, circular logo for some out-of this world cult. And stars the same impossibly toothy, increasingly tan (bed, not beach), nameless, raven-haired actor. He reminds me of a charismatic, less terrifying Tony Robbins.

I really hope neither of these two gentlemen lives in the Sag Harbor area. For the record, Mr. Robbins and that guy from the cult remote commercials are both towards the top of my, Last Faces I’d Hate To See Before I Expire list.

You do realize we are getting dangerously close to some near future reality game show. It’s only a matter of time before six contestants standing on a vast, empty sound stage with a super shiny black floor — each at their own podium — in front of a raucous TV studio audience. All must answer the same, simple question:

“Who is the last face you’d hate to see before you expire?”

Then, every so often (if their busy schedules allow) that person named walks slowly out onto the stage and stops directly in front of the contestant who named them.

I’ll leave Mark Burnett to fill in the ratings-busting blanks.

Another reason I can ditch what my parents’ generation so innocently called, The Boob Tube is that awards shows have become extinct. Now, all I have to watch is a half hour of Fashion Police on the E! Network. We don’t really care who won when Joan and her nest of vipers hiss about what really matters: How people looked. Do you really care if Sally Field won Best Supporting Actress for the TBS mini-series, Drying Paint?

Of course you don’t.

You want to see how she fared on The Red Carpet in a marigold-yellow, vintage Halston gown — with hat and shoes compliments of Stella McCartney.

Meow! Now that would be great TV. If you happen to be a really nasty cat. A viper. Or, sadly — me.

I have recently upped my ability to mutter drolly though clenched lower jaw. After two seasons, I happened upon Downton Abbey — the latest addition to Masterpiece Classic’s long list of critically acclaimed dramas on PBS. I found myself simply unable to surf past it. Three minutes, and I was completely hooked.

Remember Dallas? Highly addictive, event television where you quite literally felt immersed in another world far beyond the boundaries of your own.

Yes, I’m well aware of Upstairs Downstairs. So all you drolly muttering Lords and Ladies can stop with the judgmental eye rolling. I just feel compelled to plug any vehicle for Charlene Tilton.

Performing random acts of kindness is really in right now. Or, haven’t you heard? Too busy watching NCIS reruns? No judgment here.

I’ve managed to bring myself up to speed on Downton Abbey. Thanks to the miracle of Blu-ray Discs. So I feel entitled to enjoy the newest season on PBS without any feelings of being less than. Or, unworthy. I am now officially up to snuff on a Masterpiece Classic. I relish my time with the Grantham’s and their delicious staff below every Sunday night.

Fine! You win! I’m keeping the TV.

For now…

PETER HAMILTON TRAVIS would be happy to hear from others who enjoy Downton Abbey. And encourages supporting Public Television — along with the impressive list of major contributors whose incredibly philanthropic, perfectly-fitting names make him giggle just a bit.

 

 

 

 

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One Response to “Inside the Circus: The Boob Tube”

  1. Aari says:

    Funny that PBS of all things is the current reason to own a cable box.

    I wanted to give mine up but then the Olympics reminded me why I need it. And the election. And today the inauguration. I wish I could block the 2,000 channels of drivel. Or not pay for them. It’s highway robbery.


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