With my two-state experiment going on, certain sacrifices had to be made regarding personal pleasure. One of those sacrifices for Northlandia was cable TV. I, like many of you, have a love/hate relationship with my TV. Much of what is on at any given moment is junk, far worse than Newton Minow's "vast wasteland" speech when he was chairman of the FCC.
"When television is good, nothing - not the theater, not the magazines, not the newspapers - nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there for a day without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet, or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that TV set until that station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland."
I have become so averse to commercials that I seek TV entertainment that eschew have them. There aren't many. Turner Classic Movies do not have commercials. After that it's either PBS stations or Netflix DVD's or streaming.
When the finances wouldn't allow for cable up here, I decided to get an indoor antenna instead and rough it. Gone is my morning ritual of Morning Joe, MLB-TV which keeps me up to date on my fantasy teams, and TCM. I still have the Netflix DVD's so it's not all doom and gloom. As I mentioned last week, my free channels provide some background noise and once in a while surprises me with genuinely good entertainment. Here is a window into my free vast wasteland.
- WQAD, KLJB and KWQC - These network channels provide local and international news. There still isn't much on these in the way of good entertainment, however. Lots of Dateline-type sensationalist crap as well as reality stuff, neither anything I care about.
- KWQC-WE - a 24 hour weather show.
- COZI-TV - an oldies and channel. (Lone Ranger, Zorro, Dragnet, Starsky and Hutch and Charlie's Angels) Didn't watch this formulaic swill back in the day and don't intend to now.
- WQAD-ATV- Another oldies channel. (Mr. Ed, Green Acres, Bewitched, Leave It To Beaver, and All in the Family among many others)
- MyTV8.3 - Nasty nasty stuff like Bridezillas, Dr. Phil, Cops reloaded, Justice with Judge Mablean, Cougar Town and Law And Order.
- KLJB 2 - TMZ, Justice For All with Judge Cristina Perez, America's Court with Judge Ross, Mike and Molly and Big Bang Theory.
- KWKB - Cedar Rapids CW network, which looks like it only has 2 or three nighttime shows, such as iZombie, Jane the Virgin and something called Flash.
- WQPT - Quad Cities PBS station.
- WQPT WORLDWIDE - International PBS
- KGCW - People's Court, Judge Mathis, Divorce Court, Hot Bench, Paternity Court (what's with all thee court shows??), Hot In Cleveland, Family Feud, Two and a Half Men.
- THIS TV - Sea Hunt, Old (and Bad) Movies like Flowers In The Attic, The Playboys, Margot at the Wedding and Love ong for Bobby Long.
- KQIN - Children's programming
- KQIN2 - International News
- IPTV - Iowa PBS
I am surprised by how well I have fared. I miss MLB-TV and the myriad chances to get ball games, but I do get an occasional Chicago team and on Saturdays I get a National game through Fox. I miss my TMC channel, period. There isn't anything else on my list that can supplant that, but, I do get a movie station with THIS-TV. Are they good ones, no, but every once in a while they throw in one that is watchable. And on Saturday at 9 I get Svengoolie and a horror flick. Last Saturday was Bride of Frankenstein. It is an undeniable classic but I can do without the schtick of Svengoolie. Two weeks ago was the Invisible Ray with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff.
Otherwise you are left with retreads, some as old as 60 years ago like Hoppalong Cassidy, Abbott and Costello, and George and Gracie Burns TV shows. But mostly they are 60's type shows like Bewitched, Mr. Ed, McHales Navy, The Lucy Show and Gilligan's Island. I didn't watch them then so I'm still not very interested. There are two, however, that I try not to miss. And they are newer ones, relatively speaking. All in the Family and Barney Miller are very much worth watching all over again. The really good stuff remains good forever.
For the most part, my TV in Emerald City is just for some background noise while I do other things. I'm not much of a TV watcher anyweay, so a transition from cable to antenna for me isn't the worst thing that could happen. I still can get the latest movies and binge TV shows from Netflix DVD's and let's not forget Amazon Prime. For being a Prime member one gets 2 day, free shipping on orders as well as free movies and TV shows. I am actually binging on Amazon's Transparent show right now.
So do I recommend cutting the cord? Sure, as long as you have a couple backup programming options like I have. If you, however, like the many options cable/DISH provide (even the 85% on your list you never watch) and don't mind the $150 monthly bill, then stay with them.
But if you ever decide to cut the cord, be prepared for more time reading, walking, and all the other things you like doing that do not require staring at a TV set. Yes, do cut.
By the way, the best possible cable situation would be to have an "ala carte" system whereby you can pick and choose what stations you want. However, that will never come to pass because not enough customers would choose those sports channels that have to pay for the exorbitant player salaries.
And one more thing before I let you go this Tidbit morning: the producers of Gilligan's Island named their boat, the S.S. Minnow, after, you guessed it, Newton Minow, the guy who referred to TV as the vast wasteland.