March 7, 2002

What if?

by Chris Feeney

What if our parents were right? It pains a person, who still considers himself a young man, that I must admit that maybe all those things mom and dad told me were at least partly correct. Sure at the time they didn't seem to make much sense, but now that I'm older and more mature I can see the wisdom behind some of those statements.

None may be more true than that age old warning that there is nothing good on television. Why I won't totally agree with that (I don't want to jeopardize the newspapers cable television advertising market) I will have to say that I have been quite appalled lately with the direction of new programming. For a large part it is just a bunch of junk, for lack of being able to use a more appropriate word in the newspaper.

Okay so maybe it is just me, but the recent trend to "real TV" stinks. I won't argue with the success of Survivor and shows of that nature but it has gone too far. A few weeks ago I nearly fell off the couch when I flipped through the stations and came across the Fox Sports special that was about to crown the world's greatest eater. That's right, they had a show with a bunch of people trying to eat the most food, as quickly as possible. Then there is the upcoming celebrity boxing special that will feature Tonya Harding vs. Paula Jones (of Bill Clinton sexual harassment fame - not that that description narrows it down any). The women are the under card for a three-round bout between Barry Williams of The Brady Bunch against Partridge Family member Danny Bonaduce. Personally I wouldn't watch a professional boxing match, so needless to say this fiasco won't top my must see list.

I guess I first began to feel this way when I saw the advertisements for Temptation Island. Now this sounds like some late night show on a cable station, but this was a prime time special that put beautiful couples together on an island. Then viewers turned in on a weekly basis to see which of the lovers "gave into temptation" and cheated on their partner. Now I'm not one that takes to the pulpit often, nor do I feel like I am the most qualified to preach to the masses, but this just seems flat out wrong to me. In today's world marriage and personal vows are difficult enough to maintain, so why celebrate that with a TV show?

It just seems like television has decided that entertainment is not important anymore. Instead the trend now has gone to shock treatment. If a show can make you say "I can't believe they just did that on TV" then the producers are happy.

Maybe I'm getting old, but I can pretty much program out about half the channels on my television set. I've got to have the Disney and cartoon stations on hand for the kids. My wife likes the weather channel as well as some occasional home improvement programming. For me anymore it's just ESPN, the History Channel and an occasional re-run of Law and Order or Seinfeld.

Oh well, I guess it's in the eye of the beholder. I'll admit I do try to watch one network regular every Thursday night. CSI is a program that revolves around crime investigators. A forensic lab solves murders and other crimes using science and technology. Of course the story lines often revolve around bloody crimes and there are some graphic scientific images involving corpses and wounds and other injuries involved in the investigations. Maybe someone out there thinks I am a sicko because I like to watch this program that revolves around violence and blood and guts. So if you watch Temptation Island or are setting up a house party to watch the celebrity boxing matches, I'm not condemning you. It's simply not my cup of tea.

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