Monday, July 09, 2007

Vacuous thoughts on watching television.

I rarely watch network television, and I don’t have HBO or Showtime, so I have missed (but yet not missed) hits that “has everyone talking”, such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, etc. I mostly watch news (which is pretty much limited to KO on Countdown), some sports (a lot more when college basketball season starts), lots of movies (thank the Lord for Turner Classic Movies!), and various odds and ends on the Science Channel, the Times Discovery Channel, the History International Channel, and the Biography Channel (great stuff to be found on these, although they have WAY too many reruns for my taste). The only time I dip into all the other fare available is when I go on a business trip. During my last one, where I didn’t have a rental car and was pretty much stranded at my hotel the entire time, I came away with the following questions.

- When did TNT become the all Law and Order channel? Yes, they also show Charmed and Without A Trace, but only as “sandwich bread” to L&O’s canned pastrami. Exhibit A, 16 straight hours of L&O on the 4th of July. (And also, every time I see Fred Thompson, I get the shudders when I think this guy has an outside chance of becoming our next president!)

- TNT does have a nice weekly show in The Closer, but Kyra Sedgewick is really starting to grate on my nerves. Her shtick was kinda cute to begin with, but now I want to reach through the screen and slap her. Go see an analyst, for heaven’s sake! Jeez!

- Who decided it was acceptable to run advertisements for the network’s other shows DURING a different program? And they aren’t subtle at all. These ads take up the entire third of the screen, are full of zoom-in, zoom-out motion, and are accompanied by video game sound effects! Hey, we’re watching a show here! I guess they figured they should do that just because they can. To me, that is beyond annoying. It’s a major reason to stop watching that particular network, if I watched it in the first place.

- I think someone should take Billy Mays out behind the woodshed and beat him senseless with an ax handle. This is they guy, if you don’t know, that does all those commercials for crap that you “cannot buy in stores”. Dust mops, car wax crap, Orange Glow cleaner, Zorbees cleaning rags and several others. How does someone get a gig like that in the first place? And how can anyone talk in a monotone low shout all the friggin’ time?

- Is the new advertising paradigm to have commercials that are for two different things, simultaneously? I have noticed several of late. One is for GMC cars and trucks, and the new Transformers movie. I suppose GMC paid the movie company a ton of cash for product placement rights, but really, what is the commercial for? Are we supposed to go out and buy a Chevy truck? Or go see a movie? It’s confusing to us that don’t multiplex very well.

- What is up with the new advertising campaign for Shell Oil? I see some guy looking thoughtful at a kid drinking the last dregs of a milkshake, and the captions announce that this guy “has a problem”. Or maybe that is in a different commercial. I think I have seen three variants on this commercial, one of which introduces the actors who play the people on the commercial! And I have yet to figure out just what the heck the commercials are about anyway! Aren’t commercials like that supposed to convince me that Shell is doing a great job on something or other, or make me feel all warm and fuzzy when I buy their products? I have yet to figure out what this is all about, and the series has been on for at least three months. You would think that they would have moved to the next step by now. After all, those “Taster’s Choice” commercials finally got those two people together.

- I see ESPN is really scrounging for programming. That’s what happens when you have about five channels (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Classics, ESPN News) to fill. So, I initially laughed when they started showing poker. Who wants to see people playing cards? But that apparently caught on big. Just another high stakes reality game when the view can see people either strike it rich, or be humiliated on national TV. But now, they have moved to “competitive eating”. Excuse me, but.... WHAT? Competitive eating? As a spectator sport!?! On national TV? You gotta be kidding me.

I am beginning to think that there are WAY too many channels on television these days. There certainly needs to be a lot less 24-hour news channels, where minutia can become a national obsession at the drop of a hat.

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