Writer’s Workshop: Nine Lines On The Boob Tube

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…

14 thoughts on “Writer’s Workshop: Nine Lines On The Boob Tube

  1. This days were better, I believe. Nowadays, people are stuck in front of something, whether it’s the tv, iPhone or computer 24/7. I miss when the anthem came on and then came snow! We had longer attention spans back then too. I had heard that in the 1980’s, the attention span was 9minutes but now it is 9seconds!


  2. I agree about tv being healthier in the good old days where there was few to choose from but you knew what you were getting. The antenna was simple! Now tv viewing is complicated. There is too much to see and it’s mostly “junk”. And… we even pay for it! Go figure.


  3. I like that we can get news and weather round the clock, but am baffled by those who watch either of them round the clock.
    I remember one time, we stayed in lodging when we were moving, and we all fell asleep watching the cable menu, lol!
    I love streaming services and am convinced one day it will all be a la carte, pay as you go.


    1. I used to put The Weather Channel on for company in hotels and fell asleep with the scrolling TV Guide more than a few times. I think I even sat one evening and played solitaire (with an actual deck of cards; this was in the days before laptops) with the movie preview channel on.

      Mary’s been binge-watching “Midsomer Murders” on Netflix. I just heard about a service called Britbox that has lots of BBC and ITV programming from the UK, a lot of which I saw on PBS years ago. They have what exists of the original Doctor Whos, Fawlty Towers, and a lot of things that were on Masterpiece Theater and Mystery!, so I might watch that for a while. That’s the good thing about them: when they run out of stuff you want to see you can cancel until they start carrying something else. Compared to cable, it’s cheap. I’m hoping that MLB.TV works things out so I’ll be able to see local games; currently I can just see Braves road games because of the contract with Fox Sports. I wonder if they’ll start streaming?… Anyway, it’s absolutely where TV is going. Even CBS and PBS have streaming services (and maybe NBC, ABC and Fox do by now, I haven’t looked). Maybe international networks, too….?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the tip on Midsomer Murders. I just looked it up and it seems there are TWENTY seasons! I’ve been heavy into British crime series lately, and will check it out.
        I think they all stream, but they all have different policies on who can stream them as to how free they are and how soon they’re available for viewing.
        I wish we had more foreign/international options, but for now, I’m not willing to subscribe to more bills 🙂


  4. I liked TV better back then. The news, sitcoms, variety shows, game shows and everything was better. I don’t think the TV of today has much quality. I watch the weather, sports, and the news. I would rather look at a computer screen and choose what I want to enjoy.


    1. There were so few slots open then, with three (four when Dumont was around) networks, that if a show wasn’t doing well, it was gone. Now it’s a mad dash for the networks to find programming for the 168 hours in a week. Who cares if it’s not doing well, they have to run something, even if it’s junk.


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