Tuesday, October 26, 2010

57 Channels (And Nothin' On)

Remember when infomercials were something you only saw if you fell asleep on the couch watching the local UHF station and woke up with a stiff neck at 3AM?

Now they're all over the place, and in broad daylight, too. Cable channels, major networks, smack dab in the middle of what used to be prime cartoon or soap-opera or bass fishin' show time. (I vaguely remember that the bass fishin' show was the official signal that cartoon time was over on Saturday mornings, and it was time to go outside and play. After helping mom dust or vacuum, of course.)

And what is it with the supernatural fad? There's historical ghosts on the history channels, scientific ghost detecting teams on the science channels, ghosts in scenic locations on the travel channels, and dog ghosts on the nature channels. Has the country gone stupid while I wasn't looking, or is this something to do with the fascination folks have lately with zombies and werewolves and sparkly emo vampires? When did the undead hijack the zeitgeist?

Here's an idea: If you don't have anything to show on your TeeWee channel, turn it off until you do. They used to do that every night, you know. They'd run out of stuff to show sometime after Johnny Carson, and so they'd play the national anthem and show something patriotic, like jet fighters zooming across the screen, and then they'd turn off their station and serve up a test pattern until they had more good stuff to show the next morning, like Scooby Doo.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ghosts, vampires, zombies?

Are you watching the History Channel again?

Shootin' Buddy

Tam said...

It's all the channels.

I'm surprised there's not a home improvement poltergeist on the DIY channels, or an ectoplasm olypmics on ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Its Bush's fault!

Bob said...

Got thirteen channels of sh*t on the TV to choose from...

Pink Floyd's The Wall is a bit dated now, but the sentiment remains the same.

When I was a child in Gainesville, Florida, one of the channels on the primitive cable service there did nothing all day but feature a camera tracking back and forth in front of a clock and meteorological instruments:

clock...thermometer...barometer...anemometer...hygrometer...

One of the Jacksonville stations (WJXT) opened each morning by playing the National Anthem, then showing a scene of water flowing under a bridge, accompanied by Ravel's Pavane For A Dead Princess. I've loved that particular work ever since.

wv: grundi

Turk Turon said...

"When did the undead hijack the zeitgeist?"

Love it!

Wv: dootatt

Ken said...

It's October, and there are units to shift.

Tam said...

Yes, but these ghost shows are whole series, not seasonal specials.

Ritchie said...

home improvement poltergeist

Now you've done it. My grandparent's house in Roaring Springs PA had 2 1/2 channels, and an extra zing if I touched the knobs while standing on the heat grate barefoot. Not all that much has changed.

John said...

Well, mainly the supernaturals seem to have such sexy times of it, and such near porn or uber-soap stuff is delicately acceptable for a ginr'al audience. [disclaimer: I have never actually WATCHED even one of the current wave; no cable at all].

Plus, they all have super-powers, too!! So, y'r handsome, bee-yo-tiful, immortal, have a sexlife that would make a tart blush but is acceptable to all viewing audiences, don't have to work, food is everywhere -- hell, they must be Democrats.

I say it's a secret plot to train folks into becoming compliant eloi, and establishing Satanist/pagan/wiccan/Druid/Vampire churches that will bring in the New Age of the...

Wait...wait...that was another one of those damn dreams, redux. Blame it all on Victorian repressed sexuality, Bram Stoker, and Anne Rice. And who's that lady author down in St Louis with all rampant ghoulies and fangies having cluster-fun?

The Sexual Liberation Front for The Association of Supernaturals thanks the media for adopting their CAVSE.

Magick Woid: "coacess" Hmmm...I leave tha' one to you, Dr Fried.

Jeff the Baptist said...

They're cheap reality TV. When one of the shows was successful, a lot of the other channels cloned it.

jason said...

ditto what Jeff said. one show is even moderately successful and a whole gaggle of imitators followed. that happened with "trading spaces" in late '90's early 00's. why turn off channels when they can still make a little bit of money? free market and all, don't you know.

Tango Juliet said...

Where's Owen Zastava Pitt when ya need him?

Joanna said...

Most of the "ghost hunter"-type shows are run by guys who never outgrew the "I dare you to ring the bell on the old MacGruber place" phase.

I saw a commercial for "Ghost Hunters International" where they were standing there, all green-eyed in the night vision lens, and calling out "Robin Hood, are you with us?" They were serious. I 'bout lost it.

JB Miller said...

A friend in the industry tells me that the infomercial shows pay the broadcasts with a cut in stead of cash. It's easy money.

The rest of the time the broadcaster has to pay to broadcast the show and then has to sell their own advertising and hopes it makes money.

No need to sell cheap ads at night anymore.

I miss the late night creature features with whacked hosts!

Brad K. said...

Jeff the Baptist nailed it. Remember the movies "Blair Witch Project" and "Corpse Bride", "The Grudge"? I/II? they made money.

I got a porn DVD, "The Erotic Witch Project" - the claim is, "of all the adult film takeoffs on the Blair Witch Project, this was the first." The flip side, "Making of the Erotic Witch Project" is actually quite viewable.

The other portion is that this is a measure of the national mood. The economy sucks, government is arrogantly out of control and disconnected. The 1930s had a happy Shirley Temple to dance and sing - we gots special effects wannabes trying to justify a union wage. Sad, really.

Bubblehead Les. said...

Last gasp of a dying Technology. Just look how the Networks are scrambling to cut deals with all the Smart Phone People. Soon, Programming will be coming to a Droid near you for only $7.95 a month ( ignore the fact that it's supposed to be free).

10 years from now, all you'll see is masses of people walking around in a daze looking at the little boxes in their hands watching the latest edition of "The Amazing Surviving Loser Brother Ghost Hunt" while texting comments to each other. You'll be thinking the Zombie Apocalypse has occurred.

The Unwashed Masses need to be in Condition White for the Politicians to Propagandize them, you know. ; )

Desertrat said...

I remember test patterns. Never could figure out the plot, though.

Too complex...

JHardin said...

Ghosts, vampires, zombies?

Are you watching the History Channel again?


No, the History Channel would be Nazi ghosts, vampires and zombies.

inbredredneck said...

Since I ain't had a TV in the house in lots of years, and have never felt the need to buy cable or satellite, I'll have to take all y'all's word for what's out there.
Then again, I remember how the selling point for cable in the first place was that since you were payin' for the service, you wouldn't have to see all those annoying commercials.
When the independent station, Ch.2, first came on the air from their studio at Jack London Square in Oakland, their programming for 6 o'clock Saturday nights was Black Jack Wayne doin' okie music. It was many years before they were able to add diversity by carrying Soul Train.
And yes, they were the originating station for Bob Wilkins' Creature Feature show.

Rob J

RevGreg said...

When Anthropomorphic Climate Change became "settled science" all the other pseudo-sciences got bumped up a few notches is my guess.

Anonymous said...

Zombies are now everywhere:

http://sports.yahoo.com/soccer/blog/dirty-tackle/post/Zombie-marketing-invades-Lazio-match?urn=sow-279744

Terry

Nathan said...

The woman who runs the History Channel needs to be taken out in the courtyard, drawn and quartered, and her heart buried at a crossroads.

This is a woman whose first act on taking the job was to forbid the use of any more "grey-haired professors" on their programs.

If they'd actually go back to being the Hitler Channel, it would be an improvement.

wv: gatorluf. Yah, ve need to show her some gatorluf. Throw her in ze swamp!

global village idiot said...

One quibble and one answer:

Quibble. Tam, you're roughly my age, so you ought to know that they didn't turn to the test pattern after Johnny - remember the "Tomorrow" show with Tom Snyder? The test pattern came on AFTER Tom finished.

Answer. It IS Halloween season, you know. Hence the ghost shows. Next month it'll be "The Science of Turkeys," "The History of Stuffing" and "Exotic Thanksgiving Getaways."

gvi

WV: immor - Where vampires go grocery shopping

Daniel said...

In the early 1970's, my little brother used to get up early so he could see the colored lines on Sacramento channel 40. (Now he's the artist in the family, an actual professional graphic design type guy.)

IZinterrogator said...

I get somewhere around 490 channels. After removing the infomercial channels, shopping channels, and foreign language channels from the guide, I now have 250. And I really only watch 20 or so channels of those.

Anonymous said...

"Here's an idea: If you don't have anything to show on your TeeWee channel, turn it off until you do."

Well that's a little radical...just make all the content that's ever been broadcast searchable and viewable at will, arrange for viewers themselves to comment, have discussions, and even add their own versions of infotainment...

'Cause if'n ya don't, some other "tube" is gonna come along and do it for ya. Oh, wait...

AT

DirtCrashr said...

We let TiVo do most of the work, and even with free broadcast there's a ton of crap - I still can't believe anyone would pay to have TeeVee.
I think the recent supernatural crap started with Buffy - but it really goes as far back as Dark Shadows.

Kristopher said...

RevGreg: "When Anthropomorphic Climate Change became ..."

You mean Anthropogenic, right?

The notion of a mass movement of Furverts causing the climate to shift through yiffing requires too much brain-bleach.

Stingray said...

scientific ghost detecting teams on the science channels

I take serious exception to even jokingly calling those ass-clowns science-related in any way.

home improvement poltergeist

Vanilla Ice has a show on the DIY network. Does that count?

Lergnom said...

In Philly, after Johnny came The Late Show, followed by The Late Late Show(I am not making this up!) followed by test pattern until Farm, Home and Garden and a kiddie show called Breakfast Time. Their theme song was "Bugler's Holiday".
Pop quiz: what Saturday cartoon show was the last one you watched?
Stay safe

RevGreg said...

@Kristopher: Panera was in the process of making another urn full of dark roast and I was still at pre-coffee status...and trying to multitask. Anthropogenic not Anthropomorphic. Still, I spelled it right which is pretty good for pre-coffee!

Joe in PNG said...

Personally, if I ran a network, it would be Mystery Science Theater 3000 after 1am- which is the best time for MST, really.

Matt G said...

"home improvement poltergeist

Vanilla Ice has a show on the DIY network. Does that count?"


Stingray said this, and I said, "That's BS. No one would pay for that. Then I looked it up, and found that he was not blowing smoke.

What the hell?!?

Look, I get that the answer to the question "Why don't they...?" is almost always "MONEY."

For example, the reason that they run infomercials instead of test patterns at night is that they have to pay to broadcast a test pattern anyway, so they might as well take in some minor income from the guys who pay them to broadcast the infomercials. They're the new test pattern.

But someone put edgy people in charge to programming, to try to entertain the masses, and find what we were hungering for. Instead, it seems that the programming is driving the culture, and creating the desire, for some. I'm running into more and more kids and adults who tell me that they believe in paranormal activity in their old house. In the background, another SciFi Channel Ghost Hunter show is on, with lots of IR green on the screen, as they tell me that the reason that they've been calling about possible prowlers in the attic is because of creaky sounds that they now know are from ghosts. Really? Might not be from the fact that you live in a tired old frame house built in the Hoover Administration, and the prairie winds are gusting to 40 mph, right?

Sheeit.

Ed Rasimus said...

Johnny? Tom Snyder? C'mon you folks are way too young. Late night TV was Jack Paar and before him, Dave Garroway and the real late show was Jerry Lester and Dagmar (who made the '59 Cadillac famous!).

Lazy Bike Commuter said...

The way I remember it, fishing shows meant Monster Trucks were over. And yes, that should be capitalized. Because they are MONSTER.

Jason said...

This is why I miss ABC's World News Now. Yeah, it was ABC, and it was a 90-minute newsbites program run thrice, but they had The World News Polka which made up for a lot of "Hey, Bill Clinton's a Swell Kinda Guy" news stories.

Right after that it was Pastor Arthur Murray's bible study program (NIV Bible, check; American Flag, check, Marine Corps colors, check), followed by Mummies Alive, Mutant League Football and Gargoyles. Once Mutant League Football came on, I knew it was time to crack open a beer and get ready for bed.

It's stuff like that which I miss from late-night/early-morning television. I also miss working midnight shifts on old military aircraft, but that's due more to being crazy than actually missing trying to isolate wonky fuel probes in a 40+ mph winter wind...

Anonymous said...

Lergnom,

So who are you picking: Sally Star or Pixane?

I do remember Soupy Sales came on after Sky King.

Gerry

Randy said...

In my house, American Bandstand signaled the end of the cartoons.

I'm old enough to remember when they did sign off after Carson, not old enough to remember Jack Parr or Steve Allen.

As for the metro-sexual undead craze, even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator".

Tam said...

"...even before I read MHI, my response to seeing a poster for the stars of the latest Twilight movies was "I see 2 targets and a collaborator"."

Win!

Moshe Ben-David said...

Haven't had TV cable or broadcast since 2007 and don't miss it at all. We use Netflix and almost don't have time for that.

Cargosquid said...

57 Channels (And Nothin' On)

Well! That title was misleading....

I had my hopes up.

;)

Zendo Deb said...

"Has the country gone stupid while I wasn't looking."

I think that about sums it up.