Post by Alric Knebel Post by Kingo Gondo Post by Alric Knebel Post by Kingo Gondo Post by Alric Knebel
That's really not true at all, week to week. Most of the programming is
top notch during prime time. Those pledge drives come around now and
again, but when I think of the trade off, I'm okay with them.
When did you start watching PBS?
It is mere shadow of its former self (60s-80s). At this point it is also an
anachronism--almost all of its former functions are now done elsewhere (and
certainly done better than the current PBS does them). Aside from "American
Masters" and the occasional special, it is pretty much a zero to me.
Nova and Frontline are two reliable favorites. National Geographic's
Nature is great. There are currently weekly documentaries on historical
research into religion. There's alos Austin City Limits, and for those
with a taste for English drama, Masterpiece Theater. Other odds and
ends. I can't think of anything that PBS does that's done better
elsewhere. I'm especially fond of their nonsensationalistic approach on
things like Frontline. You just don't get anything comparable anywhere
Could you answer my original question?
I've watched it since the 80s. And it doesn't change a thing that I said.
Well, I was asking to see how much perspective you have.
The heyday of PBS was the 60s through maybe the mid 80s. This was before
cable (during the first part) and certainly before cable predominated. It
was also, largely, before home video.
PBS was like a lonely beacon of culture and freedom for many people. If you
lived in New York, or Chicago, or San Francisco, you might have plenty of
opportunities for cultural experiences of all types--assuming you could
afford them. But most of this country was (and still is) Podunksville.
PBS was THE primary avenue for bringing foreign and "art" films to the
masses. Most places did not have art house cinemas that flourished in the
bigger metro areas. Personally, my first exposure to foreign films was via
PBS--as an adolescent and young teen, I remember seeing stuff like Fires on
the Plain, Swept Away, and The Seventh Seal on PBS. There was NO other way
for me to see these films at that time. Now, of course, that role is
PBS also brought us its own original productions and those of the BBC--all
of which were uncensored. I remember seeing this on PBS:
Maybe I was 13 or 14 at the time, and I was blown away--this guy (Al
Freeman, Jr. as Bobby Seale) was saying "motherfucker" like a motherfucker
on my TV! It all seemed terribly adult, and made me realize that not
everywhere did people labor under restrictions that forced the entire
population to be treated like children.
I remember watching I, Claudius the first time it ran--holy shit! Now, there
is no way my local PBS station would show that uncut. They are too afraid of
their own fucking shadow--they might "offend" someone.
And when is the last time PBS offered up something as utterly groundbreaking
as Monty Python's Flying Circus?--it doesn't happen. Anything even
approaching that magnitude (and, of course, few things do) comes to us
through other channels now.
News, history and science programming--what does PBS do that the National
Geographic Channel. the Discovery Channels and the History Channels (among
others) don't? There is no show on PBS that couldn't get shown elsewhere.
Thirty years ago, that simply wasn't the case.
Even little things, like cooking shows, quality children's programming (I
think I enjoyed The Electric Company more than my baby sister), etc.--PBS
was IT, or close to it. Now, we have a degree of choice that was not even
imaginable then. Want to watch an opera? In 1967 or 1977, in the vast
majority of places, you were grateful for what you got from PBS. Now I can
go down to my library and choose from scores of them, for free, on DVD.
Times change. PBS had its time. And recognizing this, it has changed, trying
to find a role in the vast array of choices we now have. And those changes
have made it bland and redundant, for the most part--it doesn't want to risk
scaring off any potential viewers. "So because thou art lukewarm, and
neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth."
I am glad you still enjoy it. I watch it once a week now, maybe. That's just
how things go.