Monday, May 5, 2008

Andrew's Ode to Television

I write a regular column for the Waterloo Region Record. From time to time, I'll post a few of my Record columns here on my blog. The column below appeared in the November 10, 2007 issue of the Record. I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope you enjoy it.


November 10, 2007 ANDREW HUNT

I'm fit to be tied. I've just read another one of these "reports" -- in this case, a study of 700 children in upstate New York and their TV watching habits.

The verdict is predictable. Too much TV makes kids stupid. Or it gives them attention deficit disorder. Or they have trouble forming relationships. Blah, blah, blah.

Studies knocking TV watching are a dime a dozen.

I'm coming out of the closet and admitting that my babysitter throughout a big chunk of my youth was a TV. Yes, that's right. I'm a Generation Xer, raised by a single father and a TV. I grew up a latchkey kid. I came home from school each day at 3:30 and sat glued to the boob tube for long periods of time. I had the TV schedule memorized. I knew what channels were cool. I knew what channels to avoid.

TV didn't reduce me to a babbling idiot. I didn't quit school at age 15 to go hold up liquor stores. I can think sequentially (when I put my mind to it).

I'm sick and tired of anti-TV crusades. But I don't want to just sit here and bellyache. I'd like to use this opportunity to honour the men and women of TV Land who helped raise me.

Quick, somebody cue Sir Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March. I have some TV shows to salute.

First, thank you to the Count on Sesame Street for teaching me about numbers. To this day, when I'm dividing up treats with loved ones, I still (in my best Bela Lugosi voice) say, "One! One chocolate chip cookie! Ha ha ha! Two! Two chocolate chip cookies! Ha ha ha! Three! Three chocolate chip cookies." And so on. And somehow, lightning strikes every time I say it.
I'd like to thank Crockett and Tubbs from Miami Vice for inspiring me to say no to drugs. Thank you, also, for taking me with you to Cartagena, Colombia, to shut down the Mendoza Brothers' cocaine cartel. And to think, all I have to show for it is this lousy pastel pink linen jacket!

Thank you to the kids of Diff'rent Strokes for teaching me about tolerance and avoiding racial stereotypes.

To this day, I detest racial slurs of any sort, but I must say I still prefer to call Arnold Jackson (Gary Coleman) a "small fry" instead of the more politically correct term "vertically challenged."

My heartfelt thanks go to the Professor on Gilligan's Island, for showing me how to make a radio out of coconuts, seaweed and nautilus shells. Mine picks up National Public Radio from Oswego.

To Mrs. Garrett on the Facts of Life, thank you for encouraging me to abstain from the dirty deed, but also for telling me that if I must do it, to please be safe. I'm pretty sure Blair followed your advice, but I have my doubts about Natalie.

Let me extend my heartfelt appreciation to Bo and Luke Duke from the Dukes of Hazzard, who taught me that nearly all of the world's problems can be solved by speeding around aimlessly in a real fast car with a Confederate flag painted on it.

The Brady Bunch passed along countless practical lessons that I still endeavour to follow in my day-to-day life, namely: 1. Tattling isn't groovy. 2. Don't pick up stray tiki idols when visiting Hawaii. 3. And for God's sake, don't play ball in the house!

To the gang on Scooby Doo, thank you for showing me that that glow-in-the-dark swamp ghoul outside my bedroom window is really Old Man Henderson trying to scare me off my property.
To the strong women of television -- Wonder Woman (Linda Carter), the Bionic Woman (Lindsay Wagner), and Police Woman (Angie Dickinson) -- thanks for teaching me that "sisters are doing it for themselves" (to quote the Eurythmics and Aretha Franklin).

Thank you Ronco for informing me that if I order in the next 30 minutes, I'll receive a Veg-O-Matic ("slices, dices, chops, shreds and purees!"), a $50 value, at absolutely no cost! But WAIT, there's more!
And finally, to Isaac the bartender on the Love Boat go my deepest thanks of all. We've sailed some stormy seas, Isaac. We mixed piƱa coladas, schmoozed with such Hollywood big shots as Karen Valentine and Bert Convy, and grooved to the sounds of Lou Rawls until the crack of dawn. Smooth as silk, man!

Ahem. Now if you'll excuse me, I have an important research project to finish.

OK, OK, who's the joker who swiped disc one of season two of Family Ties?

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