Sunday, May 25, 2008

No TV for 10 Years

When we first moved on to the boat we lived in a Marina that had cable TV lines to the boats. That only lasted for a few months though and then we didn't have television for about 10 years. Shelley thought it would be wonderful for her youngest daughter, not having TV. She had visions of her daughter reading and taking up painting and writing poetry and spending her time communing with nature. Long evenings had the family playing Monopoly and discussing world politics (in her vision that is). The reality was her daughter just added the lack of TV to a long list of things to hold against her Mother forever.

Finally, long after the daughter "grew up" and moved off the boat we got a satellite dish. After not watching television for that length of time the commercials were the most shocking of all! Everything seemed much franker and more graphic. Commercials for Viagra, full frontal nudity and the "F" word had all worked themselves to the forefront of cultural acceptability. Shelley found herself with uncontrollable urges to go out and buy a Swiffer and teeth whitening products.

We quickly got used to it though.

Our long winter evenings filled with reading and playing board games and talking in the wheelhouse were now filled with CSI and House. We quickly developed a routine and favourites.

We first got our satellite dish in the Spring and glutted ourselves on summer reruns we'd never seen. We were also delighted to find that there was quality on the tube. Our nightly ritual for several months involved watching all seasons of the West Wing and the Sopranos. Brian was so taken with West Wing that he bought the complete boxed set for his friend Jan in Holland. It took us 2 years to get completely caught up on Seinfeld and see all the lost episodes of Friends. Through the next winter we discovered new favourites (!) and even deigned to start watching Reality TV. It'd been tough as a non-TV watcher not being part of the office gossip about who was doing what on Survivor.

We even manged to get through the recent writers' strike because of the backlog of TV we hadn't seen but were quite overjoyed when ER came back with 4 new episodes!

In Ecuador our choices were limited. We watched episodes of Mr. Bean in Spanish (not difficult) and sought out channels that provided closed captioning. On a holiday though, we didn't miss TV due to our busy schedule.

And so now we're at the end of the Winter episodes and in the dark period before the new Summer shows start. We've watched the disasters in China and around the world and sat glued to the box watching the recent Mars landing. The competition between Hillary and Obama has us fascinated. How come Canadian politics doesn't grab us the same way? Maybe it's because the U.S. coverage is so all pervasive and goes on for so many months?

Are we trapped by TV, the gilded bird in a cage watching life through a tiny tube? The only show that dominates our schedule is 60 Minutes. Life is rearranged around 60 Minutes but everything else is pretty much as we see it. We have literally hundreds of channels at our finger tips but are frequently amazed that sometimes we can't find anything worth watching. We're still readers, the Marina bookshelf and the library are regular haunts. The computer adds a new dimension to our life and exercise in the form of long walks is a daily duty. We hit the beach and take dinghy rides. The kids manage to provide "entertainment". Still we wonder sometimes, especially when the weather is cold and rainy how we managed to live without it for 10 years.

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