The other day, Calensariel and I had a conversation about a couple of old TV shows that would come on after school, Where The Action Is! on ABC and The Lloyd Thaxton Show on NBC. I commented that this was “back when the only daytime talk show was Virginia Graham’s and the news was on from 6 to 7, PERIOD,” and she said, “I think we were more mentally healthy then!”
I miss the days when TV stations were independent and they saw their mission as entertaining their audience. Between when the station signed on in the morning and signed off after the late movie, we were treated to an array of sitcoms, game shows, soap operas, movies, kids’ shows, primetime programming, sporting events, and late-night talk shows. News was kept to a minimum, maybe during commercial breaks in the morning, a half-hour at noon, an hour of local and national news at 6 PM, a half-hour at 10 PM (11 PM Eastern), and maybe 15 minutes between the end of the late movie and the sermonette, after which the station signed off the air with “The Star-Spangled Banner,” their way of saying “TV’s over for today, go to bed.”
Now, there are hundreds of TV stations broadcasting 24/365, and the local stations are all being operated from somewhere else. The focus is on quantity, not quality, and as cheaply as possible. There are stations for almost every interest out there, not to mention Netflix and Hulu and other streaming services of that ilk, and we spend our time flipping from one channel to the next for hours at a time, looking for something that looks like it might be interesting, eventually shutting the damn thing off when we tire of looking for entertainment, too late for a good night’s sleep, our heads spinning with the sheer volume of images we’ve seen, unable to rest because of hours spent staring at the blue light emanating from the electronic screen.
She was right: we were more mentally healthy then.
The prompt was to write a post in nine lines. It was hard, but I did it…