I can remember the giddiness of waiting. It's a small, almost extinct, feeling of feverish longing. A feeling, that today, might accompany the few weeks before a large scale movie release, or a splattering of 13 episodes in one monumental push. The way I remember it, however, resides in the five minutes before a television show airs - the staring at the clock until 'my show' comes on. The local news channel's updates, always promising 'more at 11'. Fast food restaurant, or car commercials - the seconds ticking down until, at long last, the time was upon us.
It didn't matter the show, it was the experience of those 5 minutes. Sometimes, if it were a great show, like Saturday Night Live for instance, I would be ready and waiting a solid 30 minutes before the show went live. There has been a monumental shift in the practice of watching television, and it has resulted in the slow, agonizing death of a generation of television traditions.
Gone are the days of gathering up the wife and kids, with your aluminum TV tray's and fancy new TV dinners to watch your fancy new... you guessed it, TV. Television was king, and a show's first run was not to be missed. If it was, I've been told, you were the odd one out the next day at the office.
A rapid expanse in the availability of television, across multiple platforms, has evolved the way we watch our favorite shows. If the family pictured above were to exist in the same form today, the picture would be a much different scene. The children would be neck deep in a tablet, with headphones blocking out the world. The father, with his smart phone would be 'live-tweeting' the show (for those of you that aren't familiar with the practice of live tweeting, it's when you would rather tell people on Twitter what you think of a show, than actually watch it in it's entirety - submitting yourself totally and giving into the narrative of what is actually going on #WatchTheDamnShow.) Pretty much the only thing that would remain the same, would be the mother. Happily holding her child, exhausted from a long day - giving into the show, and letting go. (Okay, maybe now she has a wine glass.)
This isn't, however, how this story has to end. Shows are still running on a schedule, and, believe it or not - TV Guide still publishes it's small black and white magazine. Yes, you read that correctly traditionalists, people still purchase and use TV Guide regularly. Perhaps it's for the lively editorial pieces about new and existing shows, but I like to think that somewhere, someone is thumbing through the small inked pages of the TV Guide looking for something to watch.
Don't think this is just a sad, sappy bitch-baby cry fest. It's not, I'm simply stating that most old habits, die hard. This is one habit that evolved in such a flash, no one had even realized that they totally changed the way they watched their old friend, the TV. Television has been there for you through breakups, fights, death and birth.
It's Gilligan and The Skipper, seemingly foiling every plan imaginable to get off the island. It's when (spoiler alert) Mary shot J.R. It's Charlie Brown, on every damned holiday - and Santa riding shotgun with the missus on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It's Saturday morning cartoons. It's Live From New York! It's the opening of Capone's vault - the shock of the Sopranos finale. The collective gasp of 9/11 - it's the tears for the Challenger crew. It's always there for you.
It's time for you, to be there for it...
...at least five minutes early.