After everyone was done eating, when my brothers and I were a little older, we'd sometimes talk about current events, or something which was going on at school, or something which Mom was involved with. This happened at the supper table, after the dishes had been cleared and Mom and Dad were having their coffee. After these discussions, we'd retire to the living room to watch television. All four channels, in glorious black and white. Sometime in high school, I think, we got a color set. But still only four channels: ABC, CBS, NBC (all out of Boston), and a PBS station, which I think was actually out of Vermont. Might have been New Hampshire.
But television was only on the menu if our homework was done. Rules were rules. But we did watch it as a family. Dad controlled the "remote" ("Son, switch it to NBC. No, go back to CBS...") and we usually watched what he wanted to watch. Old school with Dad getting to choose but the system worked. Wasn't all that much to choose from anyway.
We followed pretty much the same protocol when I got married, we had kids, and all the progeny were still living at home. Depending on where we lived, we either had about the same number of channels when I was a kid (but with one major caveat) or we had more channels, depending on whether or not The Missus Herself and I decided that we could afford cable TV. Which for our two major Stateside assignments was a "yes, we can afford that". Those two assignments being Colorado and Nebraska, all of about eight years. The rest of the time was spent in foreign lands.
In Korea we had one channel in English and I think three (maybe four) in, duh, Korean. The sole English channel was AFKN, the Armed Forces Korea Network, which showed a lot of reruns but did show sports live. The sporting events were at odd hours, Korea being 13 hours ahead of Eastern time. (Think Super Bowl at 7 AM, IIRC. As that was 7 AM on a Monday, we usually watched it at work. There's a story there, I think. POCIR.)
In Germany we also had the Armed Forces Network (AFN), which broadcast reruns and sporting events in English. There were also a couple of Dutch and at least one Belgian channel that broadcast very recent American TV shows in English, with subtitles of course. The Dutch and the Belgians liked their shows in the original languages. I once watched a very interesting show about a rescue squad in what appeared to be South Africa. Involved helicopters and such and was very exciting. Even though the show seemed to be in Dutch, it also had Dutch subtitles. Which I thought odd until I mentioned the show to a Dutch colleague who said, "South African show, right?"
"Right," I agreed, that's when it dawned on me, "The show is in Afrikaans, right?"
Well, indeed it was and Afrikaans (apparently) is different enough from Dutch that they have subtitles. They sounded awfully close to me, but I don't speak Dutch, I simply enjoy reading the subtitles.
They are, indeed different, here's an example:
Dutch - Kent u het verschil zien?Afrikaans - Het jy die verskil sien?Close, but no cigar. (Incidentally, in English the phrase is "Do you see the difference?" - I'm a clever bugger ain't I?)
Yes, I am invariably attracted to subtitles even if I don't speak the language. It's odd really, might be my affinity for languages.
Now Germany and Japan are different beasts altogether when it comes to subtitles. (I have to admit my experience with Japanese TV is very limited, a couple of hours in the day room on Okinawa watching a John Wayne movie dubbed in Japanese. Why John Wayne's voice over was a very squeaky, high pitched speaker was somewhat disconcerting. Though hysterical in the extreme to a bunch of GIs who had consumed perhaps one beer too many.)
German television back in the '90s did show some fairly new American TV shows, but they were all dubbed in German. The older Germans liked that, the younger Germans did not. Back then the older Germans called the shots. These days I wonder if the shows are all dubbed in Arabic?
Some years back I grew tired of the ever increasing number of commercials on TV. A "30 minute" show had perhaps 20 minutes of actual show, the rest was commercials. It got to the point where I hardly ever watched TV, when I did it was only three or four shows (NCIS was one, though when Ziva left, so did I. Sorry Gibbs.)
Three years back I sat down on a Sunday to watch the Patriots season opener. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the temperature was a comfortable 70-ish and I was all set for a day of football.
Phil Simms started yapping about something, I turned the volume off, gazed out the window and asked myself, why am I sitting inside on this glorious day listening to this idiot?
I haven't watched much football since then. With recent events in the NFL, I'll be surprised if I watch any football this season. No, I don't think Roger Goodell is Satan, but I do think they have each other on speed dial. No, it's not because of "deflategate," which here in New England we call "Roger Goodell is a giant flaming a-hole." Or something to that effect.
Now players are doing stupid things on the sidelines and it goes on and on.
Western Civilization has fallen. We're all waiting to see what replaces it.
No, I don't watch commercial TV anymore. Give me my Netflix and I'm content.
Remember the old saying "hundreds of channels and there's nothing on TV"? While that was kind of true back in the day, it almost goes without saying now. Watch the news? Why? Which network do I want lying to me? How about none of the above.
Sigh, I liked it better when I was a kid. Even if it was only four channels...