When I was a child, my parents granted me the special privilege of having a television set in my room. I spent more time than I would like both in, and on, my bed. I converted my bed into a ship, booking passage to far away places. When my books grew boring, I turned to television. My father had purchased a “remote control” unit that plugged into the small black and white television I had been privileged to receive. The remote control consisted of a long cord ending in a small cylinder with a button. On/off functions were the total of its functions. I memorized the theme songs (and wrote lyrics when I deemed it necessary) to the Dick VanDyke Show, Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, Petticoat Junction, I Spy, Star Trek, The Man from Uncle, Laugh-in, Superman, The Partridges, the Waltons and multitudes of others. With the advent of readily accessible digital recordings, characters, plots and music from my past can now spill directly out of my laptop in some kind of distorted mirror of my childhood memories. Thanks to Infinity, curtesy of Comcast, I can slow down, stop moving so fast. I manage to make the morning last.
More than forty years have passed. My bed is larger, my boat sails further.
Now I am watching shows with more complex plots and less memorable theme songs.
Many are British or less-favored American shows such as: Doc Martin, Monarch of the Glen, Persons Unknown, Inspector Lewis, A Touch of Frost, and Kidnapped. In addition, a whole new genre of reality shows was spawned. It is simply impossible to compare The Bachelor or Survivor with Murphy Brown or Get Smart. They are in a league of their own.
There are people who have opined that television is a contributing factor to the downfall of American culture and literacy. What if they are wrong? I have managed to read one to three books a week for my entire adult life. I am inspired by how both books and television provide grist for the mill. I am able to synthesize new thoughts.
What I know for sure is that I am grateful to have a companion that does not require feeding, responds to my commands, serves to distract and educate me and grants me free-range on a planet of which I have seen little.
I continue my love affair with books, but I definitely have a place for television in my life.