I don’t know about you, but I get about 50 television channels at my home.
Anymore that is a modest number, with some systems offering four times that number. You would think at first that a person would be spoiled for choice, but you come to realize the idea behind bulk-TV is just to fill the screen with any old junk.
I’ve watched “current affairs” investigations that were several years old. I’ve watched Larry King interview people who died a decade ago and weren’t all that interesting when they were among the living.
There’s even an all-night classic cartoon network. What is truly amazing — besides the fact that there are people out there who watch cartoons through the night — is this channel has commercials. What do they think they could possibly sell to people who voluntarily watch Snagglepuss, Dudley Do-right or Yogi Bear at 3 in the morning: drool cups or bibs?
Late-night television has also become a muddled stampede as once again we suffer from a dizzying variety that can cause most people to experience brain freeze. The other day I swear I saw a bumper sticker that said, “Honk if you host a late-night talk show."
I mean, not that long ago really, you turned on the boob tube and eased into the recliner for a night of Johnny Carson, who grinned his way from behind the giant curtain while Ed McMahon started roaring with laughter even before the first joke in the monologue.
You didn’t care what was on the other channels. You had to go to work the next day and hadn’t been brainwashed into thinking you just had to watch two or three more even later talk shows. If you stayed up past Carson, you were either about to throw newspapers on lawns or planning a bank heist.
Now you’ve got Jimmy Kimmel Live, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and for those not watching Snagglepuss in the early morning hours, there is The Late Late Show with someone I’ve never heard of.
Probably the most tiresome thing of all is that the same programs are repeated over and over and over, usually at the same times each night. And it’s like this on virtually every channel for every time slot.
I have fond memories of certain programs. "Seinfeld", "Taxi" and "M*A*S*H" are perfect examples, but I don’t want to watch any of them over and over and over at the same time each night.
I’m not making this up. There was a paid program on one channel yesterday with the title, “Best Wheelbarrow Ever.” I was tempted to watch it in the hope I could use it to haul my TV to the trash bin. I don’t know what to think of it all, but the one thing I do know is that with so many shows and so many channels to choose from — nearly all of them interrupted every five minutes by commercials — you don’t actually get to watch anything.
You can trawl channels for so long that the end result is you’ve forgotten what was on the first one. Bruce Springsteen described the state of affairs best in his song “57 Channels and Nothin’ On.”