[I stumbled across this from 3/25/07. It's still germane.]
You can tell it is fundraising time on PBS, if for no other reason than all the concert shows. These concerts frequently feature rockstars of the 50′s and 60′s. It is so depressing to me to see these old stars singing their old hits. More so, seeing the gray audience singing and swaying along. Yes, I’m every bit as gray and, no, I don’t expect this generation or our idols to go gently into that good night. By all means, fellow Boomers, let’s shake the world at least one last time before we go. Let’s make the 10′s as memorable as the 60′s (unlike the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s).
But my fellow silverbacks and graybeards aren’t rocking the world on these shows. They’re sitting in plush seats in concert halls that don’t look anything like a rock venue. If there is tie-dye in the crowd, it must be on their Depends, cuz these folks could be at the opera, but for the singing along. A Frisbee or a joint would draw such a frowning.
I understand, we’ve arrived and we’ve got the money to do what we want (except stay young forever). I also get the message from PBS that they want us to be comfortable and happy, to be at home at PBS, and to cough up for our front-row seats.
Still, I don’t understand the fundraising strategy of screwing up the expected programing to show nothing but music. Is the message: “here’s a treat for you because you won’t pay for our regular stuff?” If I won’t pay for Jim Lehrer, I surely won’t pay for the reunited surviving members of the Shondells. (Appearing next week at some Indian casino.)
Oh, but Jim Lehrer is secure and onscreen. Ironically, I can’t tell you which evening shows are replaced by these nostalgic moneymakers, now that they’ve stopped preempting the news shows on Friday nights. I can tell you that on Saturday, my favorite cooking shows get bumped (ah, finally, he gets to the point). Now, I appreciate that Julia Child is the godmother of all cooking (though I watched Graham What’s-his-name, the Galloping Gourmet, in my preteens). There is some brief delight in seeing the old black and white footage of Julia cracking wise while cracking two eggs at once (“don’t worry, any bits of shell will sink to the bottom”), cooking 10 second omelets on an electric stovetop (can you believe that!), her scarf hiding her Adam’s apple. But how many hours of that can one take? Moreover, how can anyone take more than a few minutes of “one skillet recipes” with that man and woman I can’t stand (“You’re so smart, it never occurred to me to add fresh garlic instead of garlic salt.”). Puhleese. How are those two moneymakers? Why do they replace America’s Test Kitchen or Everyday Foods?
While I’m on a rant ‘n’ roll, let me add my objection to all the commercials on non-commercial television. The previously understated corporate sponsorship is on it’s way to being an infomercial. Is that really what we want from public television?
I’d pay to have 28 minutes of my favorite shows instead of 24. I’d pay to see my shows when I expect them. I’d even pay to see a concert filmed in the late 60′s without comments. I’d pay to see The Great American Dream Machine again — that was Public Television.
Cue the MP3 of The Who’s “My Generation.” “I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation).” mjh
PS- Some think there won’t be a PBS in another 40 years (or TV, we might hope), but it may hang on with inheritance from lonely Boomers. Imagine the fundraisers in 2050, the oldsters with their rorschach tattoos and horribly stretched piercings nodding to the venerable Eminem and SnoopDogg, Jr. “Next up, the surviving members of Gorrilaz and NiN sing a tribute to the late, great Beyoncé, ‘Dat Old Bitch Da Bomb!’ . That’s tonight’s bonus download with a donation of 500 Reagans. Peace out, Dawg!”