The Couch Potato’s Discovery

I came home from work, slipped into something more comfortable (I’ve watched Doris Day movies) and plopped myself on the sofa in the family room. I had powered up the laptop on earlier as I walked by on my way upstairs.

I like my multimedia multi! I turned the TV on too.

It was already tuned to Cartoon Network. Their nighttime programming is called “Adult Swim.” The program on, “Robot Chicken.”

Wow. Obviously, no drug testing going on there.

I’m not 100% sure if I hit it at the right time, or if this show is really as crazily off-the-wall funny as it seemed. Fast, biting, hysterical ridiculous and terribly animated – they all apply.

There is no way anyone would ever have told me about this show. I am so far removed from its target demo. I probably have no friends who watch it. I could have only stumbled upon it accidentally.

That, unfortunately, states a sad truth. After 50 years, we have moved away from the universal experience that was TV. Sure, there’s still broadcasting, but there are even more outlets for narrowcasting.

The Ed Sullivan Show, where kids would sit through adult acts in order to be there for some kid oriented shtick, will never happen again. From the perspective of the person wielding the remote control, others are no longer accommodated in front of the TV set.

The days of an entire family watching together are over. I may sit down while Stef has something on, but we have hardly any favorite shows we share.

She never watches the all news channels or sports, and I don’t watch Food Network, E!, MTV or VH1. I hardly recognize any of the shows she DVRs… though I’m sure I’d disapprove.

Will our society be the worse for it? You learn a lot about someone when you watch them watch TV. Parents and children will know now even less about each other’s sensibilities.

2 thoughts on “The Couch Potato’s Discovery”

  1. Robot Chicken is one of the very best things about Adult Swim. I never miss an episode, and I have several archived on my TiVo so I can show them to friends and get them hooked, too. I think by now I have watched the “Original Battlestar Galactica Blooper Reel” sketch over a hundred times, and it still doesn’t fail to fracture me every time. (“Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8”, with Sarah Michelle Gellar doing the voice of Buffy ranks right up there, too.)

  2. Geoff:

    First off, I’m a weather person in TV also, in the market rapidly becoming somewhat notorious because of a certain reality show on TV Guide Channel. My station was the first one approached to do the series, but the contract terms offered by the production company spurred most of us to turn them down. So they want across town. I won’t go into that story any further right now.

    What we are seeing in “broadcasting” has happened before. Prior to television there was radio. When commercial radio first became widespread, with networks and the whole nine yards, it was a family medium. Everyone would gather ’round the radio in the living room and listen to the programs, whether mytery, comedy, musical or whatever. It was a family event. Everyone gathered and listened.

    Then with the decline of network radio, the advent of smaller, and eventually very portable radios, television, and whatever other factors may have played into the equation, radio became fractioned. Everyone listened to something different, and stations started what is now known as “narrowcasting”. Multiple formats are aimed at niche audiences.

    Television is coming to that same point now. Everyone has their own tv, and with the proliferation of cable, satelite and multiple other program sources, tv is becoming a “narrowcast” medium following in the footsteps of radio.

    And I am old enough to remember the days of sitting with my parents in front of the black and white tv and watching everything from Topo Gigio (sp?) to the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. It was a family time that most folks now don’t have and for which many don’t even grasp the context.

    I don’t know if society will be worse for it, but I do think the fragmenting of a mass medium like tv is an unfortunate part of a fragmenting society.

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