TV’S NO FUN ANYMORE by Brian Roper

Posted: August 13, 2006 in The Roper Files


It’s taken me years to get my home theater put together. Hundred-watt amp, DVD and VHS players, four speakers and a big sub-woofer. And it’s ALL out-of-date already.They came out with the flat screens the week after I bought my big-as-a safe stereo 27-inch Panasonic. I’ve stopped buying so many DVDs; they’ll just come out with something better five or ten years from now. Then I’ll look at all my dvds and go: ” WHY did I spend so much money on these out-dated things?” ( just like my four shelves of VHS tapes )I’m throwing in the towel; I can’t afford to be up-to date on all the latest bright shiny things.

And I wouldn’t feel this way if there was anything on TV anymore worth watching. Back in the days of ‘shrooms and angel dust I’d be glued to the set for hours at a time.

You’d need a crowbar and a hoist to pry me away from the cable. I used to be the consummate couch potato but after 25 years of music videos, buzz clips and soundbites I’ve developed a three-minute attention span. This has become detrimental in numerous ways in my personal life as well, but that’s another rant, another time.

And my cable sucks so indescribably bad. I can’t get NBC. Fox has a ghost image that makes me reach to adjust the antenna. And the rest of the channels…

The “premium” channels show the same damn movies over and over the way FM radio loops the same Top 40 From Hell non-stop. I would feel better about paying their inflated bills if I could turn on the tube just once and find something I actually want to watch. Instead I get dreck like SAW, KINGPIN, CELLULAR, or HUDSUCKER PROXY. Ugh!

Once in a while Showtime gets it right and shows fun stuff like the Monkees’ HEAD, FORBIDDEN ZONE or TAPEHEADS, but not often enough for me. I miss the LARRY SANDERS SHOW on HBO so bad it hurts. Now that was cable worth paying for.

There are certain movies that I will drop everything and sit down and watch. No matter if I own the DVD, if I see MAD MAX, ROAD WARRIOR or the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE on TV everything else can wait. This too, doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

And even when they do show something I want to watch, it’s on at 3 in the morning. They run tasteless movies like HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE or CLERKS at hours children are likely to see them all weekend long, but EMPEROR OF THE NORTH or KOYAANISQATSI get 1am timeslots. If I had kids I’d be screaming at the cable companies about that one. Programming genius like that is what keeps me buying dvds.

From four to six AM (like when I’m getting ready for work) they don’t even TRY, it just gets even more half-assed. Ninety percent of non-premium cable degenerates into paid programming, something I think should be against the law. Their sponsors may have paid for it, but I don’t pay my cable bill to get infomercials instead of regular programming. What a rip-off ! I want my Green Acres, I Love Lucy and Beverly Hillbillies reruns back on, you turds.

Over the last month, I’ve spent several hours on YouTube, and I gotta confess I’m hooked. I’ll sit and look at YouTube until my bladder protests and I have to get up. Music videos I haven’t seen in 25 years. Camcorder footage of UFO’s. or lake monsters. Old commercials. Old movie trailers. Top Of the Pops. Old Grey Whistle Test. YouTube is as much fun as I remember TV used to be. Even if it is self-serve programming, I’ll take it over the brain-dead tripe cable doles out today. In our digital, flat-screen wireless remote age, I need something to keep me going, and YouTube delivers.


August 2006


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