Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ill-advised viewer discretion

Going out in public is always awkward for the 19 Minutes staff. Aside from the bad hair issues, Flagstaff is a small enough and literate enough place that a public radio person is bound to be recognized now and then. And the pseudo-celebrity thing is not generally a bad scene -- it amuses me and causes my wife to roll her eyes. But the awkward part (again, aside from the bad hair and the occasions where listeners catch me buying Froot Loops) comes when people tell me how much they love public radio and how they never watch any TV. "In fact", they always say, "I don't even own a TV."

I'm always puzzled as to how to react -- whether I should say, "Yeah, it's a wasteland out there. Those six hours I watched yesterday were horrible," or perhaps, "You bet -- but Grover is much less interesting on radio."

In any case, hopefully some of these folks are reading the blog today, so I can enrich their lives by filling them in on what's currently wrong with television -- or at least what was wrong as I channel surfed myself to sleep early this morning.

We start with the Weather Channel, which the 19 Minutes staff will confess to once having an addiction to -- an addiction, however, far in the past. It's verging on monsoon season here in the southwest. As has been noted in this space before, it's way too hot, but the afternoons have just about started their regular season dumps of rain. So, TV viewers in this region might be tempted to switch over to TWC to learn whether it'll rain in the next several days. What TV viewers got was a report from someone named "P. Allen Smith" about how we can conserve gas whilst using our lawn mowers. A little later on was a program called "Storm Stories", which would have been terrific, if I was trying to find out if it was going to rain four years ago in Italy. A network called "The Weather Channel" should, by law, be required to broadcast the weather.

(On a interesting note, the Storm Stories website is currently running an online poll, asking how many nights a week site visitors watch the show. "Zero nights" has a commanding lead.)

ESPN (or ESPN2, or ESPN Classic) was showing: Poker. Perhaps this is a semantics debate, but the definition of "sports" ought to include "any activity for which instant slow-motion replay is an effective way of recapping what's just happened." Instant slow-motion replay of a pasty guy lowering his sunglasses an eighth of an inch only prolongs the agony of watching televised poker.

QVC was hawking a "solid air freshener". They were demonstrating its effectiveness by having the presenter smell a variety of air fresheners right there in the TV studio. If they really wanted to demonstrate the effectiveness of an air freshener on TV, they would have placed the product in the QVC men's room and showed the presenter's expression as they sent him in.

NBC's Today Show (okay, we're flashing forward to later this morning) featured an interview conducted by Katie Couric about eating disorders among adult women. Couric and the people being interviewed seemed to agree that one problem was the unrealistic depictions of the female body type portrayed on programs such as "Desperate Housewives". Katie Couric conducted the interview wearing a short skirt and three-inch heels.

And lastly, we have the ABC Family Channel, which purports to provide family-friendly fare in a sea of cable networks featuring sex, violence, and people eating grubs. Last night's broadcast featured a promo for a ABC Family original program called "Wildfire", for which the tag line is "Strangers. Secrets. Seductions." and which concluded with the warning, "Viewer Discretion Advised".

Of course, you could probably say that about everything on TV.


Carol Davidson said...

How many solid air fresheners did you order?

Mitch Teich said...

I'm holding out until QVC institutes smell-o-vision...