The Golden Age

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The Golden Age

We had someone over for dinner a few weeks back. This person, a landscape architect, will be one of our new neighbours when we finally move into our new house, (hopefully soon!).

We spent part of the meal discussing television and Internet connectivity in the neighbourhood. There is no cell phone coverage in this part of Quebec this close to the Vermont border. The Internet connection that does exist is subsidized by the Federal government in order to provide high-speed Internet to people who sign up with a certain company. People are charged in the $80 a month range while the government subsidizes the rest of the $250 bill.

At least this is what I understand so far. We’ll see soon enough.

When it came to television reception, I had already seen enough satellite dishes attached to the homes on our street to know that Bell satellite dishes can pick up a signal and provide thousands of channels if one were so inclined to buy them.

On the subject of television, however, this individual just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Who needs television? I get to watch my shows on the Internet when I wish to.”

I don’t watch that much TV but I occasionally like to watch TV in real time, such as the evening news. One of my favourite shows, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, comes on Sunday morning at 10 a.m. and isn’t even available on the Internet to Canadians.

I also like to watch sports in real time, such as Canadian and American football.

My wife and I enjoy two reality shows but I don’t think that she’d appreciate breaking certain family privacy laws to say what they are. OK, one is a cooking show with Gordon Ramsay.

Besides that, we are not really television addicts. I wonder why that is so…

I grew up in what I would call the “Golden Age” of music and television. The music created between 1967 and 1972 was, I believe, very, very special and I don’t think that today’s popular music holds a candle to that produced by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Cream, Joni Mitchell, Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Band to name a very, very few.

When it comes to television, well, the other day my wife and I, while watching a Canadiens-Toronto hockey game (the Habs lost, boo-hoo), caught a couple of previews for shows coming up later in the week on American television (we channel hop during commercials, err, I mean I do).

These American-produced dramas are, quite simply, very, very violent. In fact, there was an uncomfortable moment, in this particular Prime Time period between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. when every American channel that I hopped to was in the process of showing a police/detective drama with lots of men and women holding guns. The Sci-fi shows that are made nowadays – and there are quite a few – have futuristic cops holding, and shooting, futuristic guns.

I grew up with dramas such as The Defenders and Mission Impossible. I also loved (a later version of) Star Trek, LA Law, 30 Something and Northern Exposure, all from a later 1990’s era. Almost any comedy from the 1960’s, even inane ones such as Gilligan’s Island and I Dream of Jeannie & Gomer Pyle  are superior to today’s garbage comedies like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory not to mention the great comedy gems like Here’s Lucy, The Mary Tyler Show & The Jackie Gleason Show. We also all watched The Ed Sullivan Show and later, The Smothers Brothers Show, every Sunday evening growing up.

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I know that the HBO-produced shows are highly praised. I don’t subscribe to HBO (I used to) but many of these series are highly violent, too, in fact, more so than what is permitted on the “Big Four”, i.e. ABC, NBC, CBS & Fox. The only HBO exception to a series that I have found inoffensive is the masterful and hilarious Curb Your Enthusiasm.

It’s a cliché to say that Americans are in love with violence, or guns. Some say that it’s part of the American DNA; after all, the U.S. was born in violence. I am neither an historian nor a political scientist but I am aware that many countries were born in bloodshed but do not today possess a television industry addicted to producing violent television series. (The British invented, I think, the act of “drawing and quartering” convicted criminals.)

Seriously, I kid you not – as I clicked through the American channels, I was literally inundated with scene after scene of people holding and shooting guns, or smashing their fists into the faces of other people (the “bad guys”, I presume).

What is going on here?

On a positive note, we just finished watching (thank-you Netflix for the free month’s offer) a very good film All You Need is Love, a mostly Danish film that also stars Pierce Brosnan.

This is a charming film and not to be missed. Rent it immediately!

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