The McCarty Metro

Still Under The Basement Steps 

It Just Makes Cents
Ralph Montegomery
Something bad has happened to television programming. If you've turned your set on recently, then you know what I'm talking about. The difficulty of finding something entertaining to watch keeps increasing. I have no desire to see strange people eat bugs or sing teenage pop music or compete to be Donald Trump's new whipping boy. In fact, I got so disgusted with it all that I called up the cable company and cancelled my service. That was a year ago.

In that year, nothing has changed. What can one person do to let these networks know we're sick of it all? It takes millions of people to band together to affect their programming. The only way to show your disgust is to let them know you're not watching any of it. Or, you could get lucky and be selected by the Nielsen Research Company and hit it at the source. The odds of being selected by Nielsen are staggering. This May sweeps, I hit the jackpot.

Nielsen selects their participants at random using a complex algorithm run on only the most sophisticated of super-computers. So you can only imagine my surprise when I got the phone call. They told me that they would send me a "Television Watching Journal," so that I would be able to record when my TV was on and which shows I would watch during my given week. A few days later my journal arrived via registered mail. In the envelope with the journal I found five brand new, crisp one dollar bills. They were sent as an incentive for me to complete and mail back the journal. Little did Nielsen know, I needed no incentive.

Looking at the journal and thinking of the power I possessed made me feel like Alf in that episode where the Tanners become a "Thompson" family. Alf realized his favorite show, "Polka Jamboree," was going to be taken off of the air so he connected the ratings box to his space ship and rigged the system. Unfortunately I didn't have a box, nor a space ship.

So what did I watch? My viewing day started shortly after I returned home from work in the evening with reruns of; The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Seinfeld. When prime time started, my TV was turned off. Then later in the night I'd fire back up the TV to watch Star Trek reruns, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan O'Brien, and naturally Blind Date. On the weekend I made sure I watched Cheaters. As much as I hate reality TV, I love watching people get caught when they're cheating on their significant other.

I'm not sure how many points my one journal counted for in the big picture. I smattered it with enough reruns and B-list programming to get my message across. Hopefully I'll get enough attention to light a fire under the executive brass. If the world was perfect, they'd call back and hook me up with one of those boxes.

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