By John Matonich
Television has certainly been around for a long time. From 1928 to 1935 there were lots of companies making TV sets, and lots of TV stations. Unfortunately, there was no regularly scheduled programming, just on special occasions announced long in advance, your TV set had to be within 1/2 mile of the transmitter tower, and it had to be the right kind of TV for that TV station or you wouldn’t get a signal.
Finally, in 1936 we could see “Little Miss Television,” starring 10-year-old “Smiles” Bloom and her sidekick, 4-year-old “Baby Delores.” They would sing and they would tap dance. The show didn’t even have a name, they just called it that because that’s what they called “Smiles” Bloom. I guess she could be known as the world’s first TV star.
It seems we have come a long way from those first days and so has the programming. There have been some great series over the years, everything from the old westerns such as “Gunsmoke” or “Bonanza” to comedies such as “All in the Family.” I also remember watching some very good variety shows. Ed Sullivan was one and the Carol Burnett show was another. I really enjoyed them this time of year when they focused on the holiday season and the shows were full of holiday songs and thoughts of Santa’s visit.
Unfortunately, I am not sure we aren’t running out of good programming options. There certainly are some good shows on the tube currently, but some of the ads I have seen recently for upcoming programs have me shaking my head. One is called the “Masked Singer.” I think it is an offshoot from programs such as “The Voice” or “American Idol”, but the twist is folks come out on stage with masks on and start singing. The goal of the show is to guess who is under the mask. First of all who cares? Secondly, why have a mask on? Why not just play a recording of these mystery folks and let people guess who they are. Maybe the masks are going to become the bread and butter of the show and I am sure will be a business boom for next Halloween season.
Another new program I have seen the ads for is “Love after Lockup.” Good grief! The premise is about folks who fell for each other while one was behind bars now face the resident of the crossbar hotel getting released. Can their love survive them actually being able to see and touch each other? Wow, a definite nail-biter each week…not. We already have to put up with “90-day fiancé” and “Married at First Sight,” so I guess this is simply a natural progression of this type of programming.
It’s no doubt to me why options such as Netflix or Amazon Prime have become so popular. Their in-house series seem to be far more entertaining and actually may make you think a little instead of just waiting for the mask to fall to the stage.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate livin’ amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.com.