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Nostalgia November 2014

The Old Gal

TV Times

By Anne Ashley

Further excitement followed when we realized how many channels we had to choose from – five! I mean, five stations! Our little minds were blown away with such overindulgence.

I can recall the delivery of our very first family television. It was an impressive piece of furniture with foldaway doors on the front and a turntable/ stereo system on top of the cabinet (albeit, under a lift up panel) and, oh yes, the television in the middle.

I can also recall that the imposing thing, what with all its features and magnificence, seemed to dwarf the purpose of the screen as it took up practically one full wall from end-to-end but the actual screen represented no more than a quarter of its entire span.

Nevertheless, we were thrilled with the state-of-the-art addition to the family. I can also remember the excitement as we waited for the tube to warm up and the picture to come into view for the very first time. We were instantly trained on how to change channels – each given an opportunity to prove that we had been paying attention by having to demonstrate turning the knob slowly as it clunked from one selection to the next. Following that, we were advised that the volume was to remain on number 4 or lower (there was 10 volume options), or we would lose watching privileges.

I can tell you, regardless that none of us even knew what programs were available to us at that time, or if volume number 4 was even sufficient, we all solemnly pledged to abide by the volume rule. By the by, we knew nothing of remote controls in those days. To be fair, the room hardly accommodated this latest addition as it was already competing for space with an oversized couch, a coffee table, two chairs, and a bookcase. No room or need for a remote. I always got the impression that my parents felt they lived in a much larger house when they shopped for fittings and furnishings.

Anyway, further excitement followed when we realized how many channels we had to choose from – five! I mean, five stations! Our little minds were blown away with such overindulgence.

We eventually, settled into a routine where mom chose evening shows and afternoon viewing was determined by what was left after homework was completed and before dinner was served. Incidentally, I used to race home from school, throw homework together so I could watch a particular program – and I can’t even remember what that program is now.

For years, we maintained our awe, our reverence, a near worship for our weekly programs that came into our home from somewhere in television land. How could we not? We were enlightened and taught how to solve family problems (in less than half an hour, mind you) by mentors of the day such as Donna Reed, Robert Young or The Beaver. We enjoyed special occasions with what was to become traditional television viewing. At the time, it wasn’t tradition, it was just Christmas with Rudolph, Charlie Brown and The Andy Williams specials. There were nonsensical programs too. I mean, who didn’t love the antics of The Beverly Hillbillies trying to adjust to palatial grandeur from their previous paucity? In addition, the original “Friends” of yesteryear on Gilligan’s Island? Hilarious stuff!

On a somber note, we watched the assassination of President Kennedy and the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald just days later. Sadly, we also witnessed the assassination of Bobby Kennedy and all that followed. Regardless of your political persuasions, these tragedies dumbfounded the world.

In due course, I watched as the Vietnam War played out nightly on our now much smaller encased, yet larger screened television. I also watched the Watergate scandal take its toll on President Nixon and climax with his resignation. I doubted anything could ever be as adrenaline-charged as those days of entertainment, news bulletins, and history-making events.

Was I wrong …?

Today we have over 1000 channels to choose from, no restriction on viewing times, the ability to record, replay, and edit to our own specifications and pay-per-view, lest all that isn’t enough. We have flat screens, wide screens, mini-mobile TVs that allow you to view your favorite shows in even the most awkward of locations.

And what do we watch with all this modern technology and endless availability? Rage and conflict. Whether it’s teens from 90120, tots and their tiara-tantrums, chefs and their inability to cook and be nice at the same time, women from Jersey, pawn shop owners or prickly party planners – every single show on television today is focused on rage and conflict. Moreover, no resolution, just rage to be continued next week where someone is even nastier than this week. Oh yes, and new conflict!

I dare say, had television viewing been this pointless and irritating in my youth, I’d have been a better student!

 

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