COVID-19 and other developments have caused me to watch more TV programs than normal (whatever "normal" may mean). Following are a few thoughts that have stuck in my brain.
Here come the female journalists. Actually, they've been a big and valuable part of the TV news industry for years. But in the past decade or so their numbers have increased. If you doubt it, just try counting the women who today appear — as anchors, reporters, experts, etc. — compared to the number of women who held those positions back in the Cronkite-Brinkley-Rather area.
While you’re at it, try to make a rough estimate of the number of speakers (both male and female) who cannot (or will not) speak on camera without moving their hands. Why do they persist in doing that? For emphasis? To expend nervous energy? You tell me. Even so, journalists are much less likely to flip their arms and pinkies about than speakers from the other trades.
And let’s not forget the mayors, police chief and other dignitaries who — after a TV news event — will not step to the microphone without an array of home-team associates lined up behind him (or her). For what reason? Beats me. This supporting cast is seldom called upon to amplify the mayor's statements. They (the backups) just stand there, fidget and squirm.
Do you control your TV programming, or does it control you? Somewhere along the line I lost the ability to switch on my TV and immediately find the program I wanted. That was back when viewers had few choices, not only of programs but how to find them. Today we must choose the title we want, and then choose which of a dozen networks might be broadcasting it. To achieve that, we might have to wade through 20 or so Hispanic titles. At last we find the program we want, but here comes a notice: "This requires a subscription." Which means, I assume, you must tack on a few dollars extra to your monthly bill.
Ten years from now, one or more colleges may be awarding advanced degrees in an advanced area of learning: the paranormal. All that will be necessary is for students to have watched 6,000 hours of paranormal TV programming. That goal shouldn't be hard to reach. Already we can find several shows that feature ghosts, walking dead, doors that open or slam on their own, plus other evidence of the supernatural. Toss in what's known (or not) about flying saucers and other interplanetary visitors, and TV will have lifted escapism to a full level of certainty.
And I’ll be one of the believers. Today's television teaches at least one absolute truth: everything is possible to be shown. This includes the top, the very best of entertainment, and the very bottom. If you don't think so, just watch a few episodes of "Two and a Half Men." Last week I ran across an episode whose jokes were so raw they'd make a drunken fraternity pledge heave.
That’s enough criticism for today. For all its shortcomings, TV is (or can be) a treasure house of education, entertainment and uplift for anyone who will take the time to explore it. My chief complaint is that, as TV improves, it also becomes more complicated to explore. At least to me, but I am old and often crotchety. Whatever "crotchety" means.