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Child of television finds little to watch

By Dennis Minich

I was a child raised with television. Some of my earliest memories are me seated in front of the TV screen watching “Romper Room,” “Popeye” cartoons, Whizzo the Clown and “Charlie Horse” cartoon show. Probably before I could even read, I was watching “Jeopardy,” “Match Game” and “Concentration.” I also really liked “Truth or Consequences.”

As I got older, my attention to television expanded and I would safely say I have logged about as many hours in front of the screen as anyone my age. I’ve pretty much tried to stay abreast of all the top shows in various genres. However, I am going to admit this may be the worst year for television I can ever remember, and I watched “My Mother the Car.”

When the new season arrived, there were very few new shows really tickling my fancy. Some of my old favorites have either changed characters or developed plot lines which don’t entertain, but instead focus on social commentary.

I don’t really understand the TV executives’ mentality. For one thing, so many shows now are remakes of old shows. Rarely do they work. Do we really need a new “Wonder Years?” Wasn’t it just as good that “Fantasy Island” was a pleasant memory, not a cheap remake? There are shows which were great at the time, but that was the point, at that time. Not necessarily now. I think maybe the worst was when they pulled Ed O’Neil to play Joe Friday in a newer version of “Dragnet.” First, no one could ever play Joe Friday but Jack Webb, but they also missed the whole point of why “Dragnet” was interesting. The characters moved to different divisions in the police department so we learned about vice, robbery and homicide, traffic, even public information. In the remake, they were simply a homicide unit. Just like most other cop shows.

So, one by one, I have deleted shows from my DVR. The doctor shows I was watching: gone. The cop shows I had been watching: gone. The comedies: gone. I am pretty much down to about three shows and my fuse is getting short on those as well.

Where has the entertainment gone? We have apparently not only lost our sense of humor, but our creativeness and imagination as well. And even my old reliables,the game shows: they have become more about cheap laughs than competition. Vulgarity has replaced ingenuity.

The bright side is with about 80 stations on my service, combined with a dozen streaming channels I have added I can usually find something to watch. Sadly, most of it would be referred to as “classic” TV. I can still watch cowboy shows where you were simply a good guy or bad guy, you didn’t have to have any kind of qualifier. There were cop shows where you rooted for the police because they were on your side. There were doctor shows where the whole point was taking care of people, not creating a litany of political statements. There were comedies, which were simply funny.

I know the modern audience is more interested in special effects than plot lines and more concerned with sex scenes than depth of characters.

For all that, I am sad, but I hold out hope that some inspiration will return to the creative minds and entertainment becomes more important than social commentary and characters become more likable and maybe even have good triumph over evil once in a while. I hold out that hope.

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