It was my wife’s birthday this week, and I gave her a DVD–Season #5, 22 episodes of The Rockford Files.
We don’t have television anymore. My friends who have cable or satellite all say, “We get 150 channels and there’s nothing to watch.” I only see TV, these days, when I have to go to the doctor. Last time I was there, I saw a special on Kim Kardashian and her ridiculous marriage, and part of a soap opera. The guy who called television “a vast wasteland” was being much too kind. It’s much more like what you’d expect to see if they had brothels in Mordor.
Patty and I were Rockford fans way back, when the show was actually on TV. We hadn’t seen it since. So we popped the disc into the DVD player, and…
Blow me down! A plot, of all things. A clever and creative story. Characters! Played by professional actors. Crisp, sparkling dialogue, with unexpected twists that made us laugh. Do you mean to say that TV was once like this? And it was free? You just turned it on, and there it was?
Those old Rockford Files episodes, all cranked out for just one season, were better than nine out of 10 first-run movies today. I don’t even know what’s on TV anymore, other than soap operas written by dirty-minded 12-year-olds and performed by Seconal addicts, and reality shows featuring poor schlubs whose only talent is to make the audience feel superior, and sleazy, leering screenplays about teenagers coughing up their virginity. The crimes solved by Jim Rockford seem virtuous by comparison.
I wonder what else was on, 35 years ago, that was a thousand times better than the best we have today.
How did our popular culture go so bad, so fast?