Television

Woke up this morning thinking about television. I couldn’t sleep last night and didn’t feel like reading so I spent some time browsing Netflix Instant Watch. I finally chose a movie – Gross Pointe Blank, which so reminded me of my son, and I would never have watched if I had not been open to wasting time (by my own definition). None of the television tempted me. I don’t watch much television, and never have.

 I probably haven’t followed a dozen shows religiously in my life: 1. Partridge Family; 2. Hill Street Blues; 3. NYPD Blue; 4. Charmed; 5. Bones. There may be some I’ve forgotten. There are others I’ve happened across in the middle, and many I’ve lost interest in (House). I’ve popped in and out of Days of Our Lives for nearly 40 years, it’s become nostalgic now. I’d get in a mood to watch a sitcom and would turn on Golden Girls or Designing Women or Mad About You or Everybody Loves Raymond or King of Queens (Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother), but I’ve never turned them on because “it’s 8pm Tuesday”. I’ll watch a rerun of any of those if the mood strikes, but it’s rare.

 I’ve been taking a hit or miss survey of people in an attempt to find an intellectual series that will keep my attention and enable me too, to converse about episodes at the water cooler. NCIS got enough first and singular votes that I’ve watched the first 4 episodes. So far, so good. I was talking to one of our doctors last week, who told me she got her son hooked on NCIS, so I was excited to get her vote. Someone else told me his wife loves Bones and NCIS because of the character dynamic – also a very good reason.

 I’ve watched all of Castle online, but that could fade fast. Like Ghost Whisperer, which I thought I loved. For one season. Medium kept my attention for a couple seasons, but then started to scare me. Trying on Eastwick this season. I have odd taste, no one likes those shows. It’s all reality or dancing or Law & Order or CSI, none of which I can handle.

 So, why am I bothering to write about a medium I have to force myself to entertain? It’s always the nostalgia factor. When I was a kid there were cartoons after school and Saturday. My brothers were obsessed and never let anyone (me) choose the channel(of 4). I recall that I have watched some Bugs Bunny, Felix the Cat and Speed Racer. Many nights I would stay over at my grandparents and they watched Lawrence Welk, and Wild Kingdom and any Christmas or Country Music special that was on. At some point I requested and watched Petticoat Junction. There was another point in our life when we went to my grandparents house every night for dinner. I was pre- or early teens and I sucked up the tv. Gramp let us watch the Munsters and Star Trek every night. My mother was deadset against anything scary or sci fi, but she wouldn’t argue with Gramp.

 If my parents watched tv at home it was after I was in bed. If my father was at home on weekends he would watch westerns or war movies (I also hate to this day).I was between 4 & 8 when we had a babysitter who watched American Bandstand. I HATED that show. It felt out of place in our house. I remember being other places and people would be watching The Three Stooges, or those kids with Alfalfa, or Rin Tin Tin and I hated it all. I’m not sure why and I’m curious so I’ll have to contemplate on that. Maybe I had a deep seated dislike of having all attention riveted on that box. It wasn’t because we had to be quiet, I was always quiet, but perhaps it was that everyone else was quiet. I was an observer and that had to have been deadly boring to me, especially since I had no interest in the television.

 As I got a later bedtime I saw my mother didn’t watch tv either, though I hate to admit to being like her in any way. In fact, I recall her attempting to watch Peyton Place and Bewitched when they were all the rage. When I was about 15 our television broke, I listened to the Partridge Family because the picture was faint. It wasn’t replaced for years. We lived in another house later where Charlie obsessed over cartoons again, but as a teenager I had no interest whatsoever – I only wanted to be in the woods. I did some babysitting for two little boys and we watched cartoons every Saturday. I’d be reading the Trixie Belden books I bought with my wages, but I did enjoy Scooby Doo. That was an intriguing bit of television. Those little kids loved it, but it also seemed to be aimed at my own age group.

 Gramp liked to watch baseball and the sound of it still is very soothing to me because it reminds me of being in that house, which was the only safe haven of my entire childhood. I would sit next to him and he taught me about baseball and rooting for the underdog. Family lore tells that my great-grandfather, James Seaman, played for the Brooklyn Dodgers. I can’t find online evidence, but we have pictures in his uniform. Apparently the entire family was shattered when the BROOKLYN Dodgers defected. They could never take up with the Yankees, but those underdog Mets became the family team.

 Gramp also watched the national news every night of his life (along with reading two newspapers everyday). A habit that would be very out of place now is that when the news, or the ball game, or Lawrence Welk was over he turned off the television. It didn’t run all day, he didn’t channel surf to find something else to watch, he turned it off and went about his life. There was a small rectangular button that pushed for on and off, and a dial to choose the channel. It went up to some ungodly number that I never understood (30? 50?); I asked but no one knew. (Gramp would glory in technology of today). We lived 50 miles from New York City and we got their channels through a giant metal antennae on the roof. We had channels 2 (CBS),4 (NBC), 7(ABC) and 13(public television). The networks are still the same to this day.

 

And, oh, another important note to my descendants – the television was all in black & white. You know, like that option on your digital camera to make photos look OLD. Although, the kids I babysat for had color – it was a little bright and alarming, but Scooby Doo in my memory is colorful!

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