I’ve been recuperating at home for almost a month now. In the beginning, the TV was more of a companion than an activity. I had the Planet Earth series on continuous stream, keeping me company in the middle of the night while my caretakers grabbed some ZZZs. David Attenborough soothingly guided me through the arctic, the desert, and the ocean, never minding if I drifted in and out of sleep while he droned on. As I began to have more waking hours (although not necessarily ‘alert’ hours) I moved on to re-runs of old favorites (Friends, That 70s Show, MASH) still never knowing when I might fall into a spontaneous nap.
Spurred on by a segment on The Today Show (my favorite morning stop) suggesting that “watching favorite old TV shows has psychological benefits” I spent an hour or two watching some Gilligan’s Island episodes. Oh My Gosh! I loved that show when I was a kid. My dad hated it and said it was rotting my brain. In one exasperated moment when he came upon me watching it, he made me sign a piece of paper promising not to watch it anymore. Well, no worries, Dad. That show is awful and I’m quite sure I didn’t reap any ‘psychological benefits’ from my brief revisit to the island.
As a kid, whenever I was sick and home from school, I was all about daytime TV. My stay-at-home mom was not interested in “the tube” so there was no competition for control of the channel, as there always was in the evenings. Match Game, $10,000 Pyramid, The Newlywed Game (with dreamy Bob Eubanks!) Hollywood Squares, Concentration, and The Price is Right. I don’t remember the host of Concentration, but I was hooked on finding the matches and trying to figure out the saying – spelled out in pictures – as it was slowly revealed. And don’t tell anyone, but I remember back when the cars on The Price is Right only had four digits in the price (much easier to win the Lucky 7 game).
Some of the daytime game shows are still on (Jeopardy, The Price is Right, Family Feud) and some of the old ones you can catch (and I did) on Netflix or The Gameshow Network. My trip down memory lane was not as fun as I thought it would be and… Good Gravy! I forgot about all that kissing! The female contestants wanting to kiss the host and the celebrity partners. The hosts wanting (clearly) to kiss the pretty female contestants. Things have changed a bit since then.
I was surprised to see that some of the soap operas are still hanging in there on network TV. I thought they had all retired to the land of reruns. My friends and I spent our teen summers trying to dodge mothers that wanted us to play outside. Our preferred line-up was on ABC. 12:30pm – Ryan’s Hope, 1:00pm – All My Children, 2:00pm – One Life to Live, 3:00pm – General Hospital. No, I didn’t look that up; I remember. Everything and nothing could happen in the course of a one hour show. It usually only took a few episodes to catch up on everything that had happened over the course of a whole school year.
One thing that is very different from when I was a kid is the amount of talk shows (there were some, but not the plethora there is now) and cooking shows. I think Julia Child was pretty much the only chef on TV back in the day. I realize I’m going to be in the minority here when I say… I can’t stand the cooking shows! Stop the madness!! Not only are there a ka-billion cooking shows, but what’s up with celebrity hosts? (Valerie Bertinelli, what are you doing??) Think I’m exaggerating about the number? Check out this cooking channel list. https://www.cookingchanneltv.com/shows/a-z And as if all the cooking shows were not enough, all the talk shows have a cooking segment. And the things they make! What is it? And it’s like there’s a competition to see who can make the dish with the most ingredients! I have not even heard of half of these ingredients. Nobody has them in their home, and they are not going to make it onto the grocery list, and if they do, you’re not going to be able to find it at the grocery store, and so you’ll have to make a special trip to Trader Joe’s, and when you do, it will cost you… blah blah blah… my head just exploded!
Sorry. Good on you if you’ve seen, made, and enjoyed a dish that you saw prepared on one of the many cooking shows streaming into your home. You might have guessed it just makes me crazy!
The biggest change in today’s TV viewing is the sheer volume of choices. When I was a kid, we had NBC, CBS, and ABC. If you were lucky, and there were no clouds in the sky and the stars were aligned and you held onto the top of the antenna coming off the back of the TV set, you might be able to pick up UHF channel 50, so you could watch Lost in Space or The Banana Splits. And, of course, the networks would sign off after The Johnny Carson Show by playing The Star Spangled Banner. Then, static. Today, most every channel (and there are too many to count) has 24 hour broadcasting and you can choose what you want to watch by genre. Cooking, nature, home improvement, game shows, true crime…. They all have their own networks. And so my final observation and question is… why am I more easily bored by what’s available?