Boob Tubing

Back in the 1950s, you were ultra cool if you owned a television set. Family, friends and neighbours would gather at your house, bring hot cheese puffs, tuna-potato chip casseroles and jello salads made with fruit and Kraft miniature marshmallows, and then you’d all sit around and watch Texaco Star Theatre.

Then in the 1960s, you were ultra cool if you owned a colour television set[1]. Family, friends and neighbours would gather at your house, bring Waldorf salad, Chicken a la King casserole and Tang, and then you’d all sit around and watch The Red Skelton Show  in “living colour.”

By the end of the 1970s, everyone had a colour television set (or two) and the whole TV thing was old hat and so it became cool not to own a TV, or to claim never to watch it if you did own one.

If you want to appear deep and intellectual these days you feign ignorance of everything related to TV. You toss around things like, “Oh! I haven’t watched television in yonks! I’m not even sure if I own one anymore, AK-chew-al-lee…” Then you give a dismissive little condescending laugh.

Now, call me an ignorant hillbilly, but I’m pretty sure everyone watches TV – even people who don’t own a TV. In fact, the people I know who are so proud of not owning a TV sit glued to my TV when they come to visit. They shush you when you try to talk to them during the commercials even.

I’m not saying that we all actually like watching TV, but we do it because it’s the easiest thing there is to do in our homes or even in our entire lives. Absolutely nothing is required of us except to sit and stare and maybe utter the odd disparaging remark about what’s being beamed into our eyes.

How could a person not take advantage of that every once in a while?

I don’t like much that’s on TV. I posted a status thingy on Facebook last week about Glee.   XUP Jr. made me watch the season opener because she promised it was the greatest thing ever to descend upon mankind since Jesus. (Those may not have been her exact words, but the meaning was clear). Later that day, my Facebook status thingy declared that I didn’t “get” the entire Glee thing. I thought everything about it, aside from maybe one or two songs, was terrible.

I also don’t get Lost. I watched the first two or three episodes and was too bored to ever tune in again. In general, I don’t like shows that force me to watch every week or I won’t understand anything anymore. The exception to that was Coronation Street,  which I watched/taped faithfully since I was a teenager, but which has gotten so ridiculous that I stopped watching it over the last year.

 I still like Law and Order  – the original and Criminal Intent – SVU not so much. I understand there’s a Los Angeles version coming out soon. Oy!

I like Criminal Minds, too. They have some interesting characters and story lines on that show.

In the less criminal area, I like Big Bang Theory, Family Guy, The Office, Old Christine and most British comedies or dramas when I can get them on my non-cable TV.

I also watch American Idol because the child has it on and I’m pretty much committed to sitting in my TV chair from 8:00 to 9:00 pm Monday to Thursday. American Idol is on every one of those days I think. Or maybe it just seems like it.

I think House has been on once in a while, during that tinme slot, too.  Maybe you have to watch House all the time to appreciate it,  because I don’t really understand what’s going on there. He’s a doctor who’s not actually allowed to treat patients but orders a bunch of other doctors around who spend all their time trying to figure out what really bizarre disease one patient has. Is that it? How does this hospital have the resources to dedicate half a dozen doctors to one patient or to keep  doctor on staff who doesn’t actually do anything? And why do they come up with about 10 diagnoses for the patient and treat him for whatever insane new diagnosis they come up with so that by the end he’s had 20 radically different treatments, has been brought to the very brink of death (or even beyond the brink) and then, when they finally get it right, he’s just fine and dandy and everyone has a good laugh?

Anyway, when American Idol/House season is over, other reality and or medical shows slide into that time slot. So You Think You Can Dance, I don’t mind so much. They’re at least very talented people. I could do without all the crazy side-drama, though. And I won’t watch other medical shows because I end up believing I have all the illnesses I see. At least House is completely unbelievable to begin with.

There are a few shows I’ve heard about that sound good though I’ve never seen them since I don’t have cable. The Wire is one that springs to mind.

Then there are a few shows I really miss. Like Twin Peaks. Damn, I loved that show. I think that was the single best thing ever to hit television, in my opinion.

I miss Seinfeld too, though it’s so dated now that it’s lost a lot of its original hilarity. And there are a bunch of comedies from way long ago that I still think are funny in a surreal, creepy kind of way: Green Acres, Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched (with either Darren) …

What do you watch regularly and/or what show(s) do you miss enough to wish they’d come back on the air?


[1] The first commercial colour TV was manufactured in 1954 and sold for $1,295 USD – the equivalent of $10,500 in today’s money

Voices

1Hank-Azaria

2Mel_Blanc

3macneille4DanCastellaneta

5Frank Oz

6nancy Cartwright

7pamela adlon

8seth-macfarlane

Do you recognize any of these people?

The first guy is probably the most recognizable because he’s been on a few sit-coms – Hank Azaria. And some people might recognize the last guy – Seth MacFarlane, as the evil genius behind Family Guy.

What all these people have in common is that they’re all voice actors who’ve provided the voices of many of the animated characters we grew up with or the strange new breed of animated characters populating our televisions these days.

Perhaps some of you saw the little mini-special on Seth MacFarlane the other night. I know Family Guy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It’s crude and raw and outrageous and tasteless and seems to have no boundaries, but it’s also brutally funny I think. Sometimes it’s funny in an “ha-ha what a bunch of idiots” way and sometimes it’s funny in an “OMG, I can’t believe they actually said/did that” way.

Either way, I think Seth MacFarlane is very talented and nasty-hot brilliant. He created the show, he writes for the show, he’s the executive producer and he does the voices of Peter, Brian and Stewie. And he sings.

Anyway, I’ve always had a thing for people who could do voices. When I was young I couldn’t get enough of comic impersonators like Rich Little or Frank Gorshin (Whatever happened to comic impersonators anyway? Is that still a job that people do?) 

The people pictured above are some of my favourite voice actors:

  1. Hank Azaria: Simpsons – Moe Szyslak, Chief Whiggum, Apu, Comic Book Guy, Cletus Spukler, Dr. Nick Riviera, Snake, Sea Captain, Superintendent Chalmers, Disco Stu, Duffman among others.
  2. Mel Blanc: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, Foghorn Leghorn, Yosemite Sam, Woody Woodpecker, Barney Rubble
  3. Dan Castellaneta: Simpsons – Homer, Grandpa, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Klown, Groundskeeper Willie, Mayor Quimby, Hans Moleman among others
  4. Tress MacNeille: Simpsons – Agnes Skinner, Cookie Kwan (realtor), Brandine Spukler, Bernice Hibbert, Crazy Cat Lady (also in Futurama), Mom in Futurama, and for Disney, Daisy Duck since 1999 and Betty Boop since 1998
  5. Frank Oz: Muppets – Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Animal, Sam the Eagle, Grover, Cookie Monster, Bert and Yoda in Star Wars
  6. Nancy Cartwright: Simpsons – Bart, Nelson, Todd Flanders, Ralph Wiggum and Chuckie in the Rugrats
  7. Pamela Segall Adlon:  Tons of voiceovers for movies and Bobbie Hill on King of the Hill
  8. Seth MacFarlane