As a relatively unknown quantity, I thought my inaugural piece should give some indication as to where I'm coming from. To that end:
-- I believe that television was much better in the '50s. Not programming, television viewing. When there was a single TV in the household, kids were often forced to watch what their parents wanted to watch. They (I) may have hated the shows, but they (I) learned something about adults, what they laughed at and what they reacted to. They (I) listened to the comments and discussions during the commercial breaks. Kids who spend time with adults learn a lot more about growing up than they do from their peers. If I were king, I would only allow one TV set per household, and computers would shut down completely at 5 p.m. local time.
-- Speaking of computers, I believe that the internet is the ultimate example of the ambivalent nature of technology. It is the best and worst communications device ever invented. It gives one access to all the information in the world, but due to a lack of gatekeeper, it gives access to all the imbeciles of the world who think that what they have to say is important. (Present company, or at least some of it, excluded.)
-- Speaking of imbeciles, I believe that almost everything that is wrong politically in this country is the fault of television, actually cable television, specifically all-news channels. Cable is responsible for redefining the word "news" to include the biased ranting and raving of the Glenn Becks and Keith Olbermanns of the world.
If I were king I would require these two "news" channels to change their names. Fox News would become Fox Crap, and I don't think anyone knows what MSNBC really stands for, but it sure doesn't spell news.
-- I believe that pitting broadcast television against cable television, especially premium cable, for the Emmy or any other award is like pitting a Division III college team against an NFL team, even the Dolphins, in the Super Bowl. They operate under very different regulations and restrictions. Broadcast has to worry about the FCC, the advertisers and the viewers. Premium cable only has the viewers -- and those are viewers with money who love nudity, blood and cursing.
It could be that the awards just need some new categories. So Boardwalk Empire (seen here and in the photo at the top of this column) could be entered in the "best drama with a $20 million pilot and 12 episodes with no restrictions which each run 20 or 30 times a week" category.
Certainly there is now enough original programming on basic and premium cable to warrant their own competitive categories.
I'm not saying bring back the Cable ACE Awards. But in the literal area of "level playing field," there is a high school world series, a college world series and a professional world series. I'm not equating broadcast TV with high school level sports. Far from it. By far, my favorite pastime is viewing scripted comedies and dramas on broadcast television.
Maybe when HBO gets nominated for a show that doesn't have to be bleeped, looped or heavily edited for broadcast, I'll change my mind. But don't give me the old "quality is quality" argument. Let's go with the regulated, restricted quality vs. unregulated, unrestricted quality argument and see what happens.
-- I believe that the cable industry's argument that a la carte cable would cost the average consumer more money in the long run is a crock. And if it isn't, tough. If you want to watch a lot, you pay a lot. Just stop forcing channels I don't watch, and don't want, down my throat and tell me you're saving me money. Come to think of it, any day now Apple, Google and Amazon will render this whole argument (and cable bundles) moot.
-- Finally, I always ask my wife, Linda, to proof my writing. After reading this, she passed me a piece of paper on which she had written a multiple choice question. The question was, "Who wrote this piece?" The choices were: Dr. Gregory House, Dr. John Becker, Howard Beale, Mike Donovan.
I'm going with "All of the above."