Neal Simon: The shows must go on (without me)
Is there really life after television?
I’m here today to answer that question in the affirmative. I report with enthusiasm that life really does go on when the awesome flat-screen TV gets carried out the front door, or when you go out the door, and the flat screen gets left behind.
Having existed since last August without a television set, I can report with cross-my-heart, hope-to-die honesty that I am absolutely thriving, despite the fact that I no longer watch college and professional football (Denver won the Super Bowl, right?), or reruns of “Laugh In,” “The Sonny and Cher Show,” and “Columbo.”
Well, maybe thriving is not the right word. But I know I’m at least flourishing.
Nix that, flourishing is wrong, too. It’s more like I’m soldiering on without a TV hook-up.
Better put, I am definitely enduring my 24 hours a day, seven days a week, total blackout from the American Entertainment Industry.
OK, you got me. It really stinks not to have cable or satellite TV anymore. I don’t work at Wal-Mart, but I spent so much time loitering by the TVs in Electronics last winter that I actually was the store’s top salesman for February.
Still, I’ve put the months without TV to the best use possible. I have filled the time previously wasted watching TV doing things to help me grow mentally, spiritually and physically: things like exercising, mastering French, taking a cooking class, joining a book club, filling in on a local bowling team…. Ha, I got you, admit it. I have not done any of those things, but they are all great ideas, so feel free, if you’re suddenly TV-less, to steal any one of them.
While I may not have joined a book club, I do spend most of my free time reading. True crime, a Jefferson biography, a novel about Pope Alexander VI (talk about infallible!), Elizabeth George’s latest mystery, daily newspapers like the Washington Post and the New York Times. It’s a long list of reading. Most of the time, books, magazines and newspapers are an adequate substitute for the TV shows I quit cold turkey last summer, but not always. Here’s a few things that have me wondering:
Are there any humans left, or have the zombies finally wiped out humanity on “The Walking Dead”?
How’s life going for “Breaking Bad” drug kingpin Walter White? And that has me trying to figure out why meth labs never explode in New Mexico (the setting for the show), but one blows up every other week in Allegany County?
On “Mad Men,” did the 1960s end well? Did Don finally “find” himself? What about Roger? Don’t tell me he gave up his earth “trips” and became an astronaut?
Did music return to MTV?
Is FOX News still fair and balanced?
I miss C-Span and its gavel-to-gavel coverage of the U.S. House of Representatives the most. In the last episode I saw, representatives were threatening to shut down the government and vote for the 234th time to repeal Obamacare. How did that turn out? I know one thing for sure, that Eric Cantor guy is destined for the top. Is he Speaker of the House yet?
I love C-Span and I super adore gerrymandering. It means that my favorite Republican and Democratic characters never get voted off the island. I mean out of office. And since Congress does very little, I can skip several months of programming, and still feel like I didn’t miss a thing. Forget about “Seinfeld,” Congress is the real show about nothing.
Neal Simon is the city editor of The Hornell (New York) Evening Tribune.