Sunday, January 22, 2006

19 Minutes's Neighborhood

As a trained public radio professional, I’m always happy to report on trends in television, for several reasons:

a) It gives me a vaguely superior feeling.
b) I watch plenty of TV.
c) Both radio and television are similar in the sense that they convey programming from a station or network to consumers in some way that employs physics and is thus, a complete mystery to me.
But it’s been a while since I’ve commented substantially on the medium of television. And so you’re probably wondering: Are there things about television these days that irritate you, almost to the point where you’d describe it as “frosting your shorts”? I’m pleased to report that the answer is a resounding “yes”. We’ll start with Mr. Rogers.

We watch plenty of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” around the 19 Minutes household. More specifically, we watch plenty of four episodes of Mr. Rogers, as our local PBS affiliate - which has no problem bombarding us with Mellow Talkers during pledge drive – recently dumped MRN in favor of “Barney and Friends”, who I would include in the “frosts my shorts” category, except that ragging on Barney is just a little too easy.

Anyway, we see a lot of the four episodes of Mr. Rogers that are on the two Mr. Rogers DVDs in the 19 Minutes collection, which has given us (well, me, anyway – 19-month old Sylvi has never actually pointed this out) insight needed to make the following keen observation: Mr. Rogers never puts his shoes back on at the end of the show. He comes in at the start of the show, singing “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…”, takes off his dress shoes and replaces them with canvas sneakers. At the end of the show, as he sings “It’s a good feeling to know…”, we see him remove the canvas sneakers… but then he leaves them God Knows Where, and we never see him put the dress shoes back on. And then he walks out the door, out into the metaphorical neighborhood, presumably wearing only his socks. (On his feet, that is. )

And while we’re at it, shouldn’t the late Fred Rogers have been at least somewhat interested in teaching the nation’s public TV-watching youth the importance of proper punctuation? My copy of “The Elements of Style”, given to me 24 years ago as a Bar Mitzvah gift (in a stunningly prescient foreshadowing of my adult life), confirms that the program should have been called “Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood”. It goes on to note that the only exception to this standard punctuation of the personal pronoun possessive comes in reference to ancient people whose names ended in “s”. So if Kenneth Tomlinson had had his way with PBS and there were more religious content available, we could watch either “Jesus’ Neighborhood” or “Moses’ Neighborhood” and not object to the punctuation. Someone should get Lynne Truss on the case.


I’ve noted before that the QVC shopping network entertains me, especially in the sense that anyone who can ad lib about fake diamond jewelry for four hours at a stretch deserves credit for their broadcasting prowess. But in channel surfing through QVC en route to “The Andy Griffith Show” at just before 10:00 pm MST (yes, it’s an exciting life I lead), I came across a new QVC feature that must be commented upon: They now run a countdown clock to forward-promote their upcoming “Today’s Special Value”, which is itself a sort of poorly defined concept, when you consider that it implies their other products are, well, run-of-the-mill values. Anyway, I’m not here to comment on the “Today’s Special Value” concept (too late), but rather, the countdown clock. The countdown clock runs for a whopping one minute and two seconds. If nothing else, you’d imagine QVC’s viewers at that hour probably aren’t going anywhere and thus, probably would have stuck around for the big 1:02 gap.

And finally, we note that the gecko spokesman for Geico insurance has apparently acquired a new accent. For years, he spoke in a chipper “Good on ya, mate” cross-between-English-and-Australian accent. Suddenly, a few weeks ago, he resurfaced on Geico commercials affecting a distinct Cockney accent. It’s as though the ad agency that produces the Geico commercials figured Americans would never notice the difference between the two accents.

On second thought, they probably have something there. But that line of commentary is probably an even easier target than ragging on Barney.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What, you don't think that Barney is equal to, or perhaps even better than MRN?

Actually, KAET replaced MRN with "Big, Big World" at like 9:30, and shifted everything else forward. I wrote to them about my dismay (mostly about losing George Shrinks at 2:30, but I also mentioned MRN), and got back a very nice (non-form!) reply, commiserating about the loss. She said that MRN was the least viewed, however they measure that.

Do we watch too much PBS at our house? Nah, can't be.

p.s. Congrats on the new job, but sorry to hear you'll be moving north. Even though the only time I "talk" with you these days is when I leave comments on your blog.