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Lassie Rescues A Chipmunk

A report in today’s news reveals that families are coming back together and spending time around the television just like in the 1950’s. Sounds positively idyllic.

What a load of rubbish. Families do not sit and watch a programme together ‘just like in the fifties’ anymore, children crossed legged and quiet, adults deciding on what to watch, family shows that enrapture the generation, no, there are far too many diversions on offer. Sitting together is not sharing together, it’s not talking together, its more of a split level existance as more often than not the family will be split between mobile devices, tablets, the television and numerous other interest capturing devices so please don’t compare it to a more innocent time like the fifties. Anyway, that aside I often bemoan about the quality of television and the current level we have now scraped. But is it really any worse than the golden period I remember and indeed the fifties?

Courtesy of tvroomplus.com you can now look up listings from way back when television first started and my, things HAVE changed. I took a typical Saturday in 1975 on ITV and compared this to the same channel today. In 1975 you would have Beachcombers, Lassie and The Lone Ranger making up the early children’s programming, so we had adventure, a bit of pet power followed by an exciting Lone Ranger story where nobody gets killed and the good guy always wins. By lunchtime we have the massive world of sport, tea time a nice bit of Black Beauty, New Faces talent show with no phone vote or sob stories. A little later Sale Of The Century for the big quiz show, then Carry On Laughing, specially written sketches from the carry on team and finally when all the children are in bed more serious stuff like the award winning Thriller series.

All in all a nice balanced selection taking into account the viewing audience. Lets whiz on to 2013 shall we?

Three hours of back to back cartoons leading us up to 8:30am and Dinner Date, an early morning dating show?!? Gee, I’m sure kids will love this. Don’t worry though there’s no Saturday Swap Shop but if you want to know how to cook a three course meal on a budget you are saved by Saturday Cookbook. Murder She Wrote airs for the millionth time but we do have the news at midday. All Star Mr & Mrs thrills us all at 12:30pm whilst Midsummer Murders bumps up the body count for Saturday. Back to back repeats of You’ve Been Framed fills tea time whilst Stars In Their Eyes, Ooops, Your Face Sounds Familiar rehashes an old format to the tune of cheese. All Star Family Fortunes again (Yawn) wows us with dysfunctional celebs and poor polls because the general public can’t be trusted on quiz shows any more, they are all too celeb hungry you see.

You have probably guessed I’m not a fan of this mishmash of programming, throughout the day it bounces between so many things it has no definition. We only remember the BBC because of its groundbreaking content, we remember ITV and numerous other small channels because they were regional and had a certain feel about them. Channel 4 was the edgy one, BBC 2 the brainy one. Now we are left with 200 channels of mediocracy all vaguely looking the same.

I spent quite a while looking through the old listings not because of a rose tinted nostalgia but seeing how over the years well written, scripted shows, intelligent programming and a regard for the viewer slowly ebbed away. It was a gradual process until around 1986-7 when things started to really get worse although admittedly things couldn’t get any worse than 3,2,1 and the awful Dusty Bin with the weird puzzles delivered by whacked out celebs.

It’s not going to change I know, just sometimes I sit back and wonder about the impact, does society become television or does television become society.


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