Television Remembered

“Hello to all of you out there in television land.” Remember that? It’s how some TV personalities greeted us at the start of their shows. Today they would have to greet us with, “Hello to all of you out there in whatever-electronic-thingamabob-you-happen-to-be-watching-me-on land.”

My family was the first on our block to have a television. There weren’t a lot of shows on then, so many times I’d entertain my friends by inviting them over to watch test patterns. Remember those? They didn’t know the difference; they were kids. I could’ve let them stare into the washing machine.

I recently saw a commercial touting the fact that now you could move your TV anywhere, even outside to watch it. Here’s a news flash: I could do that fifty years ago. When I graduated from eighth grade, my parents bought me a portable TV that I could move and watch anywhere. Actually, it was a console television with the wooden cabinet removed. The guts had been stuffed in a fiberglass case and a handle was attached to the top. It weighed 612 lbs., and required a forklift to move. The handle was an easy way to steady it and keep it from slipping off the forks, but technically, it was portable. Once the TV was settled in the desired location, all I had to do after I paid the forklift driver was to plug it in, adjust the antenna and voila, I was immersed in TV land. And it was FREE!

Today I’m chained to a cable and twenty-seven decoder boxes. I can’t use my own fancy remote that I’d purchased and it costs me $800 every month to get 734 channels airing programs, like The Watching Paint Dry Finals or The Boogers That Look Like Famous 18th Century Secretaries of State Awards, shows I wouldn’t tune to even if they were free. What ever happened to great shows like My Mother, the Car?

It wasn’t so long ago that my buddies and I used to bring along a battery-powered TV on Sunday golf outings and, with brewskis in hand, watch Bears’ games from the comfort of our golf cart. No more.

Unless, of course, you have a six-and-a-half mile long cable.

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