Nowadays, it seems like it's time to turn off the television

WORTHINGTON -- Television isn't fun anymore. Television isn't funny. That's what I think. I know. I know. Someone is going to say, "You should watch 'Polly Wolly;' it's the funniest show since, 'Doodle.'" Letterman and Leno get off some good line...

WORTHINGTON -- Television isn't fun anymore. Television isn't funny. 

That's what I think.

I know. I know. Someone is going to say, "You should watch 'Polly Wolly;' it's the funniest show since, 'Doodle.'" Letterman and Leno get off some good lines. 

I still say television isn't fun any more.

Odd things you remember. I remember the first night we had television in our house. (1957?) We must have been watching KELO because KELO was about the only thing we were able to watch, even with a five-foot antenna apparatus creaking on the roof. Everything else was a snowstorm. Whatever we watched was in black and white.


The thing I remember was not a program but a commercial. It was a big box of Oxydol, filling the entire screen. I thought -- maybe I said -- "Wow! Oxydol, right here in our living room. Isn't that something?"

We talk today about the greed of Wall Street. We all know there has been greed everywhere about us for a great long time.

Greedy television would be nothing but commercials, 24/7, nothing but spiels about what brown bears do with Charmin and sales pitches from the Geico creature and Aflac quacks. It would be all commercials save for one thing --

We would junk our TVs if they beamed only commercials.

Television people -- clever, greedy people -- have come as close as they dare to round-the-clock advertising. They have tested us. They know we will watch still if there is something besides commercials two-thirds of the time. So it is, if we were to settle in with TV for an evening, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., we would have commercials unfurled before our eyes one-third of the time. One entire hour out of every three hours watched. 

Even what is called public television slobbers with commercial pitches. We pay one minute of commercials to hear Bill O'Reilly talk two minutes about what a fool is the president. 

Yada Yada Yada.

"Seinfeld" was one of the last tickling shows on TV. "Seinfeld" has been gone for a decade. "Friends" still was running at that time. Many people watched "Friends" -- not that there is anything wrong with that.


We still see re-re-runs of the British comedies. Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet) with her sisters Daisy, Rose and Violet, who has a Mercedes, sauna and room for a pony. Grace Brothers Department Store where Capt. Peacock, Mrs. Slocombe, Mr. Rumbold, Mr. Grainger and Wilberforce Clayborne Humphries report for work each morning.

The new insights we are getting into greed/con jobs from Wall Street reveal ways in which figures are abused and twisted. A thing that would please me would be an expose of ways the TV industry abuses and twists figures.

We are told -- we accept -- "this is the most popular show on TV; 13 million people watch it every week."

I don't believe it. I know they have formulas. Twenty-four households, people not living in corner houses with incomes of $35,000 a year, people with a dog, people who eat Burger King burgers twice a week and Big Macs on Sunday -- those 24 translate into 10 million people watching searches for most-wanted criminals on TV. There is not even an effort any longer to ask people which TV shows they tune to.

Garrison Keillor was writing lately about TV sets he sees glowing -- TVs in bars, nursing homes, hospital rooms, dentists' offices. No one watches. Even in living rooms.

Many remember when we used to stop by evenings to see neighbors. Sometimes the neighbors seemed slightly annoyed -- "We're just watching 'Cheers' -- sit down, it's a great show. You will like this."

Stop by to see neighbors these evenings. If neighbors have their TV running, someone lifts the remote and snaps it off. Everyone knows how "Antiques Roadshow," will turn out.

I fear some days for the Internet. Ads are few on the Internet. I hear newspaper people saying it costs a lot of money to post news online. They will have to find ways to pay for this.


They used to say the same about TV's news briefs. "It costs a lot to bring this news to you. We are going to have to find ways to pay for it ..."

Boy! Did they ever find ways!

Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.

What To Read Next
Get Local