If you can remember sitting on your grandparents’ living room floor and watching Lawrence Welk for “like the 10,000 time” while you tried to stay awake ... you are old like me.
If you remember at night, when you heard the song of our nation and then that hiss from the television stations (simultaneously) going off air for the night (yes, they really did do that and if we were really lucky, we actually got five channels to come in clearly) and you knew it was time to lock up and head to bed, again ... you are old like me. And if you are old like me and were mesmerized by television as a child — because it really was the latest technology in entertainment — you will know that the TV Guide was something that was revered in the household.
There were no remotes, let alone menu buttons to show you what was going to be aired (on the 200 channels you got) within the next two weeks. Nope, you had a knob to twist and turn, antennae to wave and bend and whoever had control of the guide was the master of the household. When I was still full of hope and untarnished by the world the TV Guide was the size of a regular Reader’s Digest (another reading material staple) and usually the two could be found near the Bible yet, in that era, not as important.
Now the Guide is a flimsy magazine that has so many colors and listing it looks like something you should but a little metal top hat on to pass GO and collect $200. Still it has lists of series’ and movies and sports to make us forget the toils of our lives. I’m pretty sure that whomever invented the television was contracted by the government not to provide the public with an entertainment machine that would take all our troubles away but rather, a tool to keep people off the streets.
Now we have inserts in our newspapers, and so many guides on our Hi Def, 3D, plasma, flat-screen or what-have-you that would make your head spin. I fact, there’s so much to watch if you don’t control yourself, you’ll find that you are switching back and forth between channels or watching three or more screens at the same time. No wonder we can’t sleep, relax or stop getting migraines — our brains are full of input!
What disturbs me about the television guides though is how the people of this century are employed to describe the shows from decades past. I wonder how they can employ someone who hasn’t seen or read up on what the show is before they describe it to the innocent public viewers. I mean, what is Wikipedia for anyway if not to look up insignificant semi-facts?
I remember once glancing through and seeing The Exorcist and for some reason read the synopsis which read something to the effect of “troubled girl gets help for her turmoil from her family priest” and I about had a coronary. Can you imagine the poor soul who thought “that might sound interesting to watch” with a bowl of popcorn? How about listing it as “one of the most monumental horror films of all time that caused a social uproar and movie goers to pass out or rush in disgust and fear from the movie theater?” Think that might better describe it anyway. And wow ... that person actually got paid to type that up?
With that one lame description my faith in the Guide was dashed, and after there were two crossword puzzles in a row that had the wrong questions with the wrong puzzle (think along the lines of “animal that is man’s best friend” and it had four squares) the publication instantly carried no more merit to me than a National Enquirer.
The small book that as children we couldn’t wait to be the one to bring in the mail for so we could be the first to see which glamorous or handsome movie star adorned the front (now it’s likely Snookie) had (for me) mentally gone the way of Popeye, the Skipper and Captain Kangaroo.
Another sign of the passage of time, another loss of a more innocent culture, so is the demise of a lifelong guide. So long TV Guide. If my batteries die in the remote I’ll just look it up on my phone.