Sunday, March 19, 2006

Nothing on But Poop

How many frickin' pledge drives is PBS going to have this year, for crying out loud? How many, already this year, does THIS one make?!

I have loved PBS just about all my life. I grew up watching Sesame Street and Mister Rogers. Masterpiece Theatre has been a favorite ever since I saw I, Claudius in high school. My favorite miniseries based upon a novel, based on my favorite novel, Brideshead Revisited, made its debut there. I am an Antiques Roadshow junkie, the very opening theme for The American Experience makes my eyes go misty, and after Frasier, As Time Goes By is the best sitcom in the entire world.

There. All that having been said, I am REALLY getting fed up with PBS. They keep crying about how much more money they need, but they won't do what every other network as successful as theirs would do (IS there another one as successful as theirs?), and go commercial. Their funding is gradually being bled away by legislators who can find better uses for it (and who are no longer daunted by being called philistines). So we, the loyal viewers, must suffer through interminable appeals to our consciences by people too arrogant to put their product on the market.

The folks at PBS, you see, think the American people are such nitwits that only a select few can be counted on to watch quality programming. I watch PBS less often than I used to, but it's only because cable offers so many other options -- including old movies, which PBS has abandoned. And because PBS has dumbed-down its fare to the point where real classical music is almost never featured. (I'm not talking Pops in the Park and spacy, New Age chicks from Europe who sing Bach in Gaelic. I'm kidding...but only just barely.)

PBS is a victim of its own, schizoid snobbery. It never occurs to these geniuses that some people watch less of them, or have stopped watching at all, because not everything the other channels put on is crap, while an increasing number of the shows on PBS are. And the most incomprehensible thing, to me, is that during pledge drives -- when any reasonable person would think they wanted to attract the sort of viewer who likes the stuff they usually have on -- they PUT DIFFERENT CRAP ON.

I don't want to see the same Wayne Dyer lecture fifteen times. Nor do I need Suze Orman to tell me how to save my money. All I've got to do to accomplish that is to ignore all future appeals for my pledge dollars.

PBS has consistently offered some of the most beloved programming in America. If they ever get back to doing that, they can more than hold their own in the commercial market.


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