TV And Me: An On-Air Affair

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Television. The boob tube. Man's greatest invention - second only to a sensual little number called the tube top, or boob tube. First conceived by a starry-eyed farm boy with the simple American dream of seeing women in boob tubes from the comfort of his Utah home, the television has since become so much more than a simple man's obsession with tube tops - and the off-chance that their gravity-defying nature would fail on a national broadcast. Now that's television!

The "idiot box" I vaguely remember from my childhood (having suffered severe memory loss from a childhood spent behind the television) is still just as important as I remember it being - I think - even in the age of this newfangled Internet. With the majority of America online, it's tempting to think that the boob tube has finally been topped by a series of tubes, most of them devoted to showing women sans tube top - or any other sort of top, for that matter. As much as the kids are alright with getting their entertainment from the Internet, the relevance of the once-proud "television" I grew up on, its fuzzy black-and-white picture and its out-of-date antennae, still cannot be overstated. Cannot be overstated.

Television ("tele" derived from the Greek "telling" and "vision" from the English "vision") remains a telling vision of a show's continued success on webcasting sites like Hulu and Fancast, with the extent of its run often being determined by television ratings and time slots - not the rave reviews they receive from a certain "bigboy17" on the forums. Perhaps it's my feeble grasp of statistical analysis, but I never could reconcile the ratings of the few Nielsen families with the many of my canceled favorites.

Looking at the premature cancellations of gems like "Better Off Ted" (a la "Arrested Development") or even "Sit Down, Shut Up" (which reunited the castmembers of "Arrested Development"), it's a shame to see that television ratings and time slots are together the cruel dictator of a show's overarching online success - much like Saddam Hussein is the cruel dictator of a certain show's overarching plot. No amount of clever dialogue and well-cast roles (particularly Portia de Rossi and Maz Jobrani) could undo that sort of tyrannical reign; no amount of well-crafted plotlines and carefully-set-up jokes could accomplish that mission.

"Better Off Ted" and "Sit Down, Shut Up" had their fair share of low ratings and time slot changes, but they were cancelled despite internet success ("Better Off Ted" even posted among the top 20 shows on Hulu). No amount of time I spent giving them five-star ratings on Hulu could change their short-livedness - which made me wonder if this "Internet," the webcasting sites and the fan sites, changed anything at all.

In perhaps the most telling vision of all, the award-winning "Arrested Development" was canceled in the same manner of low ratings and drastic time slot shifts. Without the same access to the now heavily-flaunted world of online streaming, the show still mounted an online "Save Our Bluths" campaign, but, as with most of my experiences involving the Internet, it came up short. Some things never change.

But the past is the past, a famous historian once said, and there's no telling what glorious vision of online success today's shows have in mind, a sarcastic columnist and amateur famous historian once said.

'Tis the midseason, alas - a time to look at our loved ones and see which lineups would allow us to spend as little time as possible with them, a time to look at timeslots and guess which show's time has finally come.

With the laughable attempt at comedy that is "Bob's Burgers," the underrated - but personally overrated - and overwhelmingly funnier "American Dad" is in Fox's danger zone. The surprisingly original show will likely be cancelled to leave more room for the endless reiterations of "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy," furthering Seth Macfarlane's quest for "animation domination."

In the same midseason spirit, NBC's "30 Rock" is being moved from its 9:30 rock to a far rockier 10:00 p.m. despite having some of the best dialogue and easily the best acting by Tracy Jordan out there.

"Community," the lineup's warm-up act and head-to-header against Thursday night sports, has already garnered a community college's worth of low attendance, once again due to a time slot. Nobody wants to show up for class at 8:00 p.m., as much as they don't want to at 8:00 a.m., even if that class was taught by the hilarious Dr. Ken Jeong or the hilariously British John Oliver. People got stuff to do, even if that stuff doesn't involve the funniest show NBC has to offer.

But if you think you're going to keep living the dream of waking up on Friday morning in a drunken stupor and webstreaming your favorite shows while Alec Baldwin cooks you breakfast in bed and Alison Brie parades around in a tube top, then dream on, man - not everyone is making Seth Macfarlane money, smoking Seth Macfarlane ganja or actively getting on the good side of noted philanthropist, and all-around good guy, Seth Macfarlane.

So as the midseason enters early-midseason, hold your loved ones closely because it might be the last time you'll ever see them - and, as you are forced to go back to those people that live in your house and record over your Tivo'd "loved ones," take a moment and reconsider why you ever left that comfortable little hole in Iraq, that underground live-in tube to try to make it on top.

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Draw up a viewing schedule with Samuel at [email protected]



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