Well, I was occupied from 6:30 AM until 11:45 PM yesterday. I had to get up and go to work early, because the rolls had to be defrosted and vegetables had to be cut, and then we went to a semi-formal party to celebrate Winston Churchill’s birthday. No, I’m still in the United States.
The party lasted only a few hours, but because of the commute it took up almost all the rest of the day. Then, Mom and Mark really couldn’t wait five minutes. I don’t think they appreciate the importance of MyBlogWriMo.
Anyway, today I have time to write a real post. Today, I am lamenting the exile of Network Television from my life.
Once upon a time I was a kid and then a pre-teen. During this time I watched a lot of television. Sesame Street helped me learn how to read. Square One taught me how math was cool. I learned about real comedy from The Muppet Show and The Monkees TV show reruns and other shows they never should have taken off the air. I saw nearly every classic Disney and Warner Brothers cartoon there was. I even saw a whole bunch of Anime, though I didn’t know it was Anime at the time.
Then there were some fairly obscure shows (that is, I’ve never heard of them except when I saw them originally) like My Secret Identity, which is basically like Smallville but generally not as serious. Doctor Fad was a live-action saturday morning kids show which encouraged kids to come up with wacky inventions.
And, of course, there was the classic Disney cartoon series. I was there for The Wuzzles (adequately entertaining), Gummi Bears (much better, had an actual plot), Duck Tales (one of the greatest animated series of all time), Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers (good, but not quite as good as Duck Tales), Talespin (if you can imagine Balloo the bear from The Jungle Book flying a cargo plane in the 1920s, that’s the basic premise) and Darkwing Duck (as good as Duck Tales).
Then, of course there was the Transformers phenomenon. Had I known that the whole thing was just a scheme to sell a bunch of toys that weren’t originally very popular… I still would have been hooked. Optimus Prime and his brothers/freinds/troops (familial relationships in the original TF universe was never explained adequately, although they did have both males and females) ended up on present day Earth along with a bunch of Bad Guy transformers as well. The good guys called themselves the Autobots and the bad guys called themselves the Decepticons. The Autobots were a quirky, loyal, protective bunch while the Decepticons were generally mean, backstabbing and threatening. Then The Movie changed the status quo, killing off Optimus and many others and making the TV series a lot more sci-fi-ish (talking robots on Earth isn’t as sci-fi-ish as talking robots in space). I still watched it, because eventually the main characters became important again (and it turned out Optimus wasn’t quite as dead as everyone thought and it’s not just because they wanted to sell the new and improved toys).
I could go on, but you get the idea. Most of it was cartoons, though there were some very good live-action shows too, especially on Nickelodeon. Heck, you could even see a lot of classic sitcoms on Nick at Nite (TV Land didn’t exist back then). From about 1984-1992 it was a fantastic time to be a television-addicted kid.
Then we moved to England. Because we (supposedly, but I think my father was just being a stingy jerk as we knew him to be later) couldn’t afford satellite TV, we only had four channels. Four. One of which was BBC2, which doesn’t really count as television. The pain was eased somewhat by some of the best American TV being imported and broadcasted (Batman: The Animated Series and Babylon 5 among others). Also, there was actually some darn fine British TV as well: Red Dwarf, Last of the Summer Wine, Tomorrow People, The Brittas Empire, and of course, reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Again, that’s just scratching the surface, though there simply wasn’t as much good British TV on, because they weren’t producing as much as the US. Some of the shows I really enjoyed while in Britain were Australian imports such as The Girl From Tomorrow and The Miraculous Mellops or Canadian imports like ReBoot.
It’s a pity those cursed civil servants at the BBC have this bizarre hatred for Doctor Who. I’ve seen more Dr. Who episodes in the US than I saw in Britain. Heck, the whole socialized television thing stinks and the good shows that do come out are in spite of the BBC, not because of it. Friggin’ six episode seasons! I mean: Americans don’t need imported TV to fill up dozens of cable channels, while four (sometimes five) British TV channels need filler because there isn’t enough domestic programming being produced. That’s just wrong.
Well it doesn’t matter. I haven’t watched the BBC for almost seven years anyway. Instead, we moved back to New Jersey and I had my precious, precious cable TV again! And, boy things sure had changed.
Cartoon Network is the most wonderful thing to happen to television… ever. That is, the old Toonami and the current Adult Swim are. See, I had begun to collect comics in England and had discovered Manga in the process, but my access to Anime was severely limited. But on Cartoon Network they had begun showing these Japanese animated series called Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing and others. Some of them were horribly mutilated by censors for a while (and apparently behind the scenes some folks relaxed the rules so that death could at least be acknowledged as a word… eventually). Some of them were just plain corny (Sailor Moon, Ronin Warriors in the first season). But I had my Anime fix at last, and we eventually got the good stuff too, like Cowboy BeBop and Big O.
Meanwhile on networks that aren’t Cartoon Network, I also used to watch Smallville, Star Trek: Enterprise, 24 and others… but now we’re rapidly approaching the present day and the real point of this post.
For about a year now I haven’t been watching network TV at all, except on videotape or DVD. This is mostly because I’ve been working when the shows I want to watch are on. While the lack of commercials is definitely a plus, it really annoys me because I can’t “support” shows directly by watching them when they’re broadcasted. I know we don’t have one of those “ratings” boxes in our house, so the point is kind-of moot, but it’s annoying. We don’t have Digital Cable yet, which would solve the problem.
I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much. By the time I have kids I’ll also be able to afford the DVDs of all the good shows I want to turn their brains into mush with, like Fraggle Rock and Eerie Indiana. I’ll also probably have more DVDs than I can watch. But even with the fantastic advent of DVD tech and the potential deliciouslness of digital cable, I just can’t watch network TV in the meantime.
For example: Supernatural on the WB? I wish I could see it but I quite literally can’t. It annoys me so much. Ah, well I guess there’s always videogames.