"Soul-Sucking Idiot Box"

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm a TV junkie. Got a bad TV jones, I'll not only sit and watch it, I'll leave it on in the background when I'm doing other things. Not when I'm writing, but pretty much any other time I'm home, I've got the TV on. It's just background noise to me. Especially when it's all reruns.

Not to worry, though. Pretty soon now, we'll be getting the new season of crap...er, divinely inspired television from the networks. I mean, who here doesn't want to see a new "Must-See Thursday" comedy starring Kirstie Alley as a former fashion model? 1798, 1799, 1800...wow...never seen so many hands raised that fast.

That's the problem. I'm a TV junkie, but I'm fully aware that most of what I'm watching sucks. I know that every time I watch Friends, I'm probably losing IQ points. But I can't help myself. It makes me laugh, and it makes me forget my own problems once in a while, so what's wrong with that? Other than the fact that by watching, I indicate that they should make more of those shows. At least I'm not contributing to the Baywatch at Melrose Palisades 90210 sickness which seems to have the nation in its icy, mind-numbing grip.

Of course, watching new shows is not the depths of my sickness. After all, there is some good stuff out there amongst the waste. NYPD Blue is a great show, intelligent and dramatic. Babylon 5 is the best science-fiction television ever produced, with no clear contenders to the title visible in the next few years, and X-Files, while getting a little too in love with its over-arcing conspiracy theme, is good clean fun. No, what marks me as truly sick is that I watch shows over and over again.

I tape Friends. There, I've said it, feel free to shun me. I watch them over and over again, and still laugh at some of the jokes. I watch Seinfeld, the Simpsons, Cheers every night because they're in syndication. I've seen them. I know them. I'm saying the lines, with proper cadence, along with the actors. But I still watch them, despite the fact that I could play them out in my head with no problem, and in my version, I could erase the parts I find dull.

Why? I dunno. Reading requires a commitment, writing even moreso...but television? Hell, I can watch television while surfing the Internet, or reading comics, or playing a computer game, or any number of things. Maybe it's because I grew up with it so it never seemed all that wondrous to me, but if you treat it basically like a radio with pictures attached, it doesn't seem all that bad.

As a TV junkie (and a self-aware one) I know that TV is bad for me. I could be doing other things with my time. But it's not that bad; it's just another diversion. Whoever said "Kill your television" had the wrong idea.

But it might not be a bad idea to wound it. That way, you both know who's boss.

Randy W. Lander

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