Monday, March 23, 2009

On the Pros and Cons of Network Television

Like many of you, I've probably watched more hours of CBS in the past four days than I have in the previous year (with the exception of 60 Minutes, my lone hour of geriatric channeling per week).* This is because I generally do not watch television shows centered around A.) Forensic Investigators, B.) People Who Murmur at Spectres, or C.) Fractions of the male species. And so perhaps this is my own ingrained bias, but I just feel like CBS has never really "gotten" the ebb and flow of the NCAA tournament. Clearly, there are other rational folks who feel differently, but there was a moment sometime on Saturday afternoon or Saturday evening or Sunday morning (the days all blend together now) that was so egregious it almost seemed like a bad parody--that was the moment when my network feed actually cut away in the middle of a potential game-winning the image of another team, in another game, in a faraway city, emerging from a time out. Now, this potential game-winning shot did not fall, so in the end, perhaps you might say no harm was done. But that is kind of beside the point.

The point is, it continually vexes me why CBS refuses to resort, at moments like this (and there were several over the past four days), to the occasional split-screen shot. You see, there are many of us who spend our days on a computer, teleporting between several windows at once while simultaneously downloading a Scrabble application to our IPhone, listening to This American Life podcasts on ITunes, and Skyping our aunt in Tacoma. Therefore, the sight of two games being played at once--on a single screen!--will not, in fact, bring on uncontrollable seizures.*** But my guess is that several dozen people called their local affiliates to complain many years ago, and Andy Rooney didn't like it very much****, and therefore CBS, being what it is, has come the conclusion that it is "too distracting."

Too distracting? On the network that employs Jennifer Love Hewitt?


Now, I realize I am being slightly unfair, so let me compliment CBS generally for its choice of broadcasting personnel. Most notably: Bill Raftery. It is almost unimaginable that a guy who's been doing games for more than two decades has managed to A.) Avoid the general wrath of the blogging elite, B.) Maintain his enthusiasm, while not simultaneously smothering his knowledge of the game, and C.) Manage to make his catch-phrases seem fresh, while incorporating new language that is ridiculous and nonsensical and endearing. At one point, I recall Raftery said something that seemed like a vaguely perverse double entendre, but because this was Bill Raftery, it just sounded like a very happy man speaking happily about basketball. And that made me happy.

*In fact, did you ever notice that Andy Rooney is often noticing things that most people noticed in 1973?**

**Though, to be fair, the statute of limitations on noticing that Andy Rooney often notices things expired in 2002.

***I mean, Mike Figgis directed an entire movie in split-screen--nine years ago! (OK, it wasn't very good, but again--beside the point.) Not to mention most of us now have televisions the size of livestock barns.

****Didja ever notice that everything moves so fast these days?

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