Monday, August 08, 2005


Two words: Sheesh!

We went to Best Buy the other day and in the DVD section, television releases take up both sides of an entire aisle. In contrast, the musicals, take up maybe a quarter of one side of an aisle.

It's like a childhood dream come true: being able to watch your favorite TV shows whenever you want.

To be honest, this has happened before. It was called independent TV stations. Seriously. Before the niche networks started popping up, you could watch the best (and not-so-much-the-best) programs that TV had to offer.

When I was growing up, I had quite a few to choose from: KBHK 44, KTZO (later KOFY) 20, KTXL 40, KRBK 31, KICU 36, just to name a few. Just about all of them are now Fox, WB or UPN stations now.

Visiting relatives or friends who lived far away from you was extra cool if you were staying for a while because they had a whole different set of channels that would show different shows at different times.

Now, it seems, everywhere in the country, you can change channels as much as you want, but you'll always be watching Seinfeld, Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond, etc.

Theoretically, the niche channels should be picking up the slack, but for the most part, it's the same format, just different shows. Here's part of the TV Land lineup: Gunsmoke, Bonanza, MacGyver, Happy Days, The Brady Bunch, Leave It To Beaver, Green Acres, The Dick van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie.

Prime reruns, right? Well, yeah, but it's not like you haven't seen any of those shows in a long time. It's like all the popular kids in school. There are no less-popular shows included, like Hazel or It's About Time.

Or B.J. and the Bear.

I surprised my wife when I told her I wasn't all that interested in the Brady Bunch Season One DVD set. I don't think a month has gone by in 30 years that I haven't seen the Brady Bunch at least once, whether I wanted to or not.

I know they play those shows because they're popular They want people to watch. But would it kill them to have an hour of programming where it was like, I don't know, TV Land Presents. You could either show two half-hour shows, or an hour-long show. But they'd be shows that haven't been in heavy rerun rotation.

They're not as popular, and in many case, not as good, but even one or two episodes of a bad TV show has a morbid appeal.

I know; I watched two episodes of My Mother the Car, and I have to admit, it's not as bad as its reputation would have me believe. It's kinda dumb, but it's pretty harmless.

The same thing goes for Cartoon Network and/or its sister channel, Boomerang. This is my message to the programmers there:

Enough of Scooby Doo.


Doesn't even have anything to do with Scrappy Doo. Just stop, please.

Do I need to see a three-hour block of Turbo Teen? Heck no. But an episode or two would be nice to make sure I didn't hallucinate watching it.

To illustrate the beauty of independent stations (OK, and a little from network channels), here's an example from the April 21-27, 1984 edition of TV Guide.

Let's say that I didn't have to go to school on Monday the 23rd. I don't remember if it was spring break, but let's just figure I stayed home.

Wake up at 6. Head out to the kitchen and grab a bowl of Apple Jacks.
6:10 a.m.: Monkees (Channel 44)
6:30 a.m.: The Muppet Show (44)
7 a.m.: Tom and Jerry (Channel 2 or 31)
7:30 a.m.: Batman, Superman, Aquaman -- the 60s Filmation cartoons (44)
8 a.m.: Superfriends (44)
8:30 a.m.: Rocky and Bullwinkle (31)
9 a.m.: Joker's Wild (Channel 13)
9:30 a.m.: Press Your Luck (Channel 5)
10 a.m.: The Price is Right (Channel 10) -- during commercials or dumb games, flip to Tic Tac Dough at 10:30 on Channel 3.
11 a.m.: Let's Make a Deal (Channel 36)
11:30 a.m.: Toss-up -- either Sale of the Century on 3 or Match Game on 36.
Noon: cough, cough ... All My Children ...
1 p.m.: Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (3)
2 p.m.: Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour with different guests (Channel 4)
3 p.m.: Superfriends (40)
3:30 p.m.: Choice of Bugs Bunny, Alice, Star Blazers, Woody Woodpecker or New Zoo Revue
4 p.m.: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (36) or Superfriends (44)
4:30 p.m.: Superhero cartoons -- a rotating roster including Shazzan! and the New Fantastic Four among others. (36)

After that, it gets to be dinner, and then prime-time shows. But you get the idea.

Of all the game shows, the only one currently on Game Show Network is Match Game. But the first season of the Muppet Show just came out on DVD, and season one of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is slated for October. There are two box sets of the Superfriends out, as well as the Looney Tunes cartoons. The third Looney Tunes set is also due in October.

And before you ask, yes, the New Zoo Revue is also on DVD. Go nuts.

Pretty soon, you could theoretically replicate the childhood fantasy lineup of your choice via DVD, provided you want to spend enough money.

Or you could make your mortgage payment and buy groceries.

I hear that's what grown-ups do.

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