TV or not TV? That is the question

December 18, 2011

Media & Culture

I haven’t watched television with any regularity for several months now, the longest period in my life without the tube playing a major aspect of my routine since, well, forever.

Here’s what happened. Back in July, in the midst of Texas’ hottest, driest summers in modern history, Houston had a rare thunderstorm one Friday evening. On that particular night, I had planned to settle in to watch some DVD episodes of The Wire, the excellent HBO series about life in inner-city Baltimore. I’d managed to miss it during its entire run because I’ve never had cable at my home. My friend Angie had lent me the entire five-season boxed set.

But when I arrived at my apartment, my landlord told me that lightning had struck the house, frying virtually every single piece of electronic equipment inside — including my DVD player and the digital antenna for my television. (The flatscreen TV, just over two years old, was spared.)

Both the DVD player and the antenna (with which I receive only local stations) are both relatively inexpensive. But the economy’s still sagging, and I decided not to spend the money to replace them just yet. And, as a side benefit, I could do a little experiment on what it’s like to live without TV as a near-daily experience.

And the truth is, aside from a couple of bumps, I’ve hardly missed it. For its entire 2004-2010 run, I was addicted to the show LOST, whose nefarious creators found a way to propel viewers from one episode to the next, one season to the next, like expert drug pushers. Long before the show ended, I swore I’d never let that happen again.

Thanks to a little meteorological intervention, I haven’t seen one of the networks’ latest offerings this season. I’ve missed a few old favorites such as The Office and 30 Rock, as well as some perennial PBS programs and my Sunday political talk show fix.

I’ve cheated a little. My friend Angie and her husband lent me an old DVD player to finish watching The Wire, and, nostalgic for a bygone era of newspapers that I barely knew, I’ve watched a couple of episodes of the old Lou Grant show on Hulu.

But, overall, I’ve enjoyed the quiet immensely. I go out to walk in my neighborhood more. On Sunday nights, I’ve been listening to “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” the great classic rock program from Steve Van Zandt of E Street Band and The Sopranos fame, which a friend turned me on to.

And I can tell you that one thing I absolutely have not missed is the ads. And that rings particularly true during the annual commercial-palooza known as the holiday season.

But then again, if you’re looking for a gift for me, a digital television antenna might be …. nah, just kidding.

Copyright © 2011 Ken Fountain. All rights reserved.

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About Ken Fountain

I'm a journalist and writer in Houston, Texas. My areas of specialty inxfcgclude law and courts, local government and industry and environmental issues. You can follow me on Twitter at @twitter.com/kenfountain and email me at kenfountain1 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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3 Comments on “TV or not TV? That is the question”

  1. Brandon Says:

    The revolution will not be televised. Though I’m pretty sure it is on the internet.

    Reply

  2. rcmckee Says:

    I quit watching TV in … 1988, I guess it was. In a rare moment of uncontrolled anger I actually destroyed the set; when I started thinking of replacing it I realized that I couldn’t think of anything I’d actually learned or gained from watching the thing since college.

    So… I didn’t replace it.

    Reply

  3. Stephen Connolly (@stephencon) Says:

    We cancelled our cable nearly three years ago. Our kids have Netflix on the Wii, I watch episodes of favorite shows on Hulu and the occasional soccer match on ESPN3. No ads, lots of podcasts and reading. Hardly miss broadcast TV.

    Reply

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