CSotD: Saturday Morning Cartoons (if you read it then)

Deflocked (AMS) sets the theme for today. As noted yesterday, we’re no longer in Perpetual Panic mode, but it is nice to put the serious issues aside for a moment.

OTOH, Mamet doesn’t simply put them aside but keeps his head buried, and it’s depressing to see the absolute garbage available on TV.

But take heart, because I just went Googling to try to find out how many people are watching that crap, and I found a really fun site to poke around on, which is Nielsen’s national ratings, and, if you want to know what same-sex couples are watching, it’s there.

Sort of. They’re bundled with unmarried couples, which I think is an old-fashioned demographic that should be updated, but it’s there.

I used to work with much more detailed ratings for a living, back when I was selling commercial time and, later, as marketing director at a local NBC affiliate. I wish this site showed “shares,” which is the percentage of people watching TV who are watching a particular show, but the ratings and numbers are still interesting.

Check this out:

This is the over-the-air network prime time stuff, and note the preponderance of DANGER! DANGER! programs, which is not necessarily a good thing. People who watch a lot of crime shows tend to overestimate their own likelihood of being victimized, which leads them to support law-and-order sorts of legislation, including both enforcement and surveillance.

But the college basketball championships waxed all those programs, and not by a small margin, while, even for the week’s “Top Rated” show, fewer than 10 percent of homes were watching.

That’s kind of reassuring, and I see that fewer than 4 percent are watching “The Voice,” which I suppose is why it’s promoted so heavily: NBC would like to boost the numbers on its #3 show.

As the old joke goes, “This food is terrible, and such small portions!”

Cable networks are predominantly news — I don’t see Animal Planet among the Top Ten — and here you’re got shows that are “stripped” or shown every night. In a full ratings book, you’d see which nights they’re talking about, but Tucker gets a lot of viewers for each of his M-F shows, while Rachel scores three unspecified nights a week.

If we saw the Top 25, you’d likely see the rest of Maddow and Hannity’s weekly fare close to the Top 10, but note that the ratings in this category are virtually identical. Not that Fox won’t boast about having seven shows to MSNBC’s three, but there’s more smoke than fire in their argument.

And here’s the “Random Bullshit” category, which — yes, Mamet — outperforms news, and is also semi-reassuring in that fairly silly things dominate, with only Dateline and Law and Order reruns providing DANGER! messages, though Judge Judy does feature stupid people screaming at each other.

Which reminds me of waiting outside a principal’s office while three little white farm girls in about the fifth grade explained their conflict to her, using phrases and talk-to-the-hand gestures right out of Jerry Springer.

Where did you think little Karens came from?


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Loose Parts – WPWG)


(Candorville – WPWG)

Speaking of television, Dave Blazek popped up on Facebook wondering how many readers he had missed by citing such an ancient TV program.

I don’t think the TV show matters. It aired for a decade, starting in 1954, with Tommy Rettig as Jeff in 116 episodes and then Jon Provost as Timmy in 249, not counting a few non-canonical attempts to bring it back.

So nobody much under 65 remembers actually watching it first-run. However, it’s a part of what you might call “pop cultural literacy” in that everyone has heard “Timmy’s in the well.”

In fact, Provost adopted it as the title of his autobiography.

However, nobody ever says “Timmy is lost in the woods” or “Jeff is being threatened by an escaped convict,” much less “Lassie’s been bitten by a rabid wolf.”

Lassie, like Beaver Cleaver, only exists as a hipster reference, and so remains current.

Sesame Street, however, is a different matter, and, first of all, let me add that we don’t know how many kids watch it, because ratings depend on people filling out diaries and they rarely monitor what their kids were watching.

As a result, the show would pull ratings of 1 or 2 in the ’70s, while Sesame Street merch was leaping off the shelves like popcorn.

Anyway, I don’t know what Lemont was watching as a kid, but everyone else his age was glued to Bert and Ernie and Big Bird and Oscar.

The gag is that he doesn’t know his little boy’s heroes, but I’d have picked a different example.

Nobody under 50 could mix those guys up.


And on the topic of old folks and their kids, Between Friends (KFS) has been having a de-cluttering story arc, with Susan trying to get rid of things without throwing anything out.

Fortunately for me, I’m down to three rooms and a small storage closet, so whether my kids want any of it or not doesn’t matter a whole lot, because it’s mostly gone.

Though I unloaded their memorabilia on them once they had their own houses, and Emma is still at university.

To which I would add that Sandra Bell Lundy does a fabulous job of making Susan look like a bit of a middle-aged frump while Emma is a burgeoning babe.

This isn’t one of those strips where you have to look at hair and clothing to tell the characters apart, and their differing looks are part of their differing personalities.


The Other Coast (Creators) offers a funny/not funny gag, because our encroachment on wilderness is no joke.

Our bear issues here mostly involve people leaving their garbage where bears can get into it and become habituated to people, thus a potentially dangerous nuisance to be officially dealt with.

Hence the saying, “A fed bear is a dead bear.”

But, much as I miss Colorado’s Front Range, it has long since become overcrowded and overpriced, and the push for scenic country homes has put people in repeated conflict not so often with bears as with mountain lions.

They came for the bison, but I was not a bison …



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