March 15, 2009
Is Cable / Satellite TV really worth it?
So, I checked my blog and realized I was overdue for my twice a year post.
Sorry, for the few tumbleweeds that might actually read this drivel, and a solemn promise to think, guiltily, about what the point of this blog is, periodically, before squeezing out another post around September.
So, my wife has been laid off, and as an educator with Los Angeles Unified School District, I often wonder how long my professional career is for this world. For the record, I did not get my pink slip on Friday, the supposed Union-imposed deadline by which teachers have to be notified regarding their employment status for the upcoming year. Twelve teachers at my school were “on the list.” Can I be added to the list at a later date? Am I safe for one more year? Who knows. Magic 8 ball, anyone?
Okay, so the subject has turned to how to cut costs. And the easiest “pork” spending in this house is cable TV. We have a DVR, and enjoy watching, commercial free, some occasional network dreck. But for the most part, we’re just not that interested in what’s out there. I guess we finally passed that 18-36 demographic, eh?
What do we watch? Ghost Whisperer. Treacly, trashy, maudlin and cheap, but Jennifer Love Hewitt is a binky biscuit and I love her. Her cleavage is also a factor. Besides, I’m a shameless sap, and 50% of the time the maudlin and cheap stuff actually chokes me up. With tears, even.
We were watching Battlestar Galactica, but that started mainlining J.J. Abrams-style plotludes (plot interludes, or “occasional glimpses that there’s a point, only to be roundly ridiculed by the writers, who long ago gave up having one.” Perfected by Chris Carter and the X-Files) to the point where I started wondering if I wasn’t a cylon myself. The groovy sado-masochistic soft-porn mental manipulation dynamic between Six and Balthar had all but disappeared, and that was my primary reason for liking it in the first place – because face it, Tricia Helfer is a binky biscuit and I love her and her spray-paint-applied red dress until I jizz in my pants. Ahem. And thanks to Mike and Melinda for showing that Saturday Night Live has proven the law of averages, and was funny for one out of seven million skits.
So lacking that very compelling, uh, plot, the show degenerated into a meandering mess, and I could no longer tell if Apollo (Jamie Bamber) or Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) was the “girl” in the main plot, cause damn, Katee, yer more man than most, and all that that implies.
And we’ve been watching “Xena-light,” Legend of the Seeker, and the only reason to do that is to watch Bruce Spence chew scenery with demonic relish (“A fella, a quick fella, might have a weapon under there. I’d have to pin his head to the panel.“), or wait for Kahlan’s (Bridget Regan) boobs to pop out of her preposterous Ren-Faire corset. Richard (Craig Horner) looks like David Cassidy and hops about in the battle scenes like a Pez junkie on a pogo stick. Sadly, my wife really likes the Sword of Truth novels, and so onward we go. I kind of liked them, too, until I realized I could save myself reading the last six by reading Atlas Shrugged.
Much as I adore and worship Hugh Laurie (and he doesn’t even have breasts!), I find that House has firmly dug its trench and nothing remains but to admire long past victories. Over, and over, and over again. In a world where Bernie Madoff exists, being a curmudgeonly misanthrope only gets you so far, when you still actually, y’know, help people. Besides, I recently lived my very own episode of House (I’m waving at you, you arrogant, pompous boor, Dr. Lawrence Leiter – don’t worry, your very own blog post is a’comin’!).
And we adored the hokey over-the-top seriousness of Heroes, but again, the tightly scripted hijinx gave way to stunt plotting, and healthy doses of J.J. Abrams-style plotludes.
Frankly, all of this can be watched on the internet, or wait three months, and on Netflix. Without having to fast-forward through the damn commercials. Which are set at a 100% higher volume level. Rant on that forthcoming.
And so all I’m left with is caring about the NFL Football package, and frankly, with a kid and having to take Sunday classes to get credits, to get salary points, to get a raise (the only way you get paid more as a teacher – merit? What’s that? Go take pointless classes, stat!), I wasn’t even getting to enjoy football. And while we did enjoy PBS Sprouts as an adjunct baby sitter, frankly, the boy enjoys Pixar movies more (and so do we. Although Nina on the Goodnight Show… and, I’m a gonna stop right there).
So why TV at all? About $60 a month in savings – add that up over a year, and that’s real cash. So we may be dumping that very soon indeed.
Four years ago we decided to drop home phone service, given that we only used our cell phones. We’ve never looked back. That said, I think having access to local news (“Yes, Andrea, I’m standing here in front of the Wild Fires, and they are still burning. Stay with us for more as it never develops!”), and the broadcast football games (the Patriots games are usually on as the network game) might be worth it. If I could get ghetto-local service for like, $10 a month…? Maybe I would. Maybe I should, y’know, call someone about that.
What really needs to happen is the a la carte model of ordering stations. You could take a free 30 day preview, and then decide to add the station. You could add or remove stations at any time. This would work wonders for advertising revenue models, and advertisers would know precisely how many viewers they were reaching, and moreover, that those were HIGH QUALITY viewers; i.e., the demographic they wanted – because those viewers are self-selected. Oh well… as grandpa Gould used to say, “If it makes sense, you’re doing something wrong.”
I do things wrong all the time.