Of Wee Value, Wee Hours TV


Introduction: TV broadcasters are either wise or otherwise. If you are the former, you have my praise. If you are the latter you have my pity. Anyway, the following blog is meant for both TV workers and watchers and, for the most part, does not speak well of the otherwise and their of wee value, wee hours TV programming. Enjoy?


To hearken back to my earliest TV viewing experiences (starting c1958), by and large, this was the era of level-headed, well-meaning broadcasters, who were still innovating / inventing their content on the fly; their sensible broadcast day’s schedule running (approximately) from sunrise to midnight.

Yep, upon the arrival of folklore’s witching hour (or, if you’d rather, the devil’s hour), TV station managers either opted for the Test Pattern and Tones motif or, upon pulling the transmitter plug, went the Analog Snow Blizzard route; as it were.

To sum up bygone TV in one word: Promising

In a few more words? This nascent medium was actually striving to provide entertaining, educational and ethical content. That Seal of Good Practice placard, which they frequently and proudly focused their bulky cameras onto, did stand for newscasts, which did strive for well-balanced news reportage and well-crafted dramatic / comedic narratives. True, such stories (be they presented by anchorpersons or actors), were known, at times, to feature bad guys, but, true to that Seal, they were never portrayed in the role of heroes.

Granted, especially advertisement-wise, such wisdom did not always prevail; e.g., commercials flat-out lying about the “harmlessness” of smoking tobacco; (hence the above italicized qualifying word “strive” and its derivative).

Anyway, last night, regrettably, I had neglected to press the “sleep” button on my TV remote. Hence, this early a.m. I found myself being (mis)guided back to consciousness by an unconscionable infomercial; one which, in a nanosecond, fortunately, went in one eyeball / eardrum and out the other.

Once my curiosity was wide awake, I channel surfed for a brief spell; soon confirming what I had already known; namely, inveterate, avaricious broadcasters can be counted on to cram-pack their post Devil’s Hour schedules with programming that’s worthwhile only to them; worthless to the vast majority of their viewers.

To sum up contemporary late night TV in one phrase: Promises Broken

Hell, once the devil’s hour nears, we can expect the barrage of infomercials to insult our intelligence and assault our sensibilities. What else can we expect from sponsors whose moral compasses frequently spin out of control; faster than their breakneck, sales pitch spin.

Deep down, most of these broadcasters know this business strategy is wrong. Why else would they precede infomercial presentations with disclaimers for the express purpose of disavowing their association with offensive sponsors and their shoddy wares?

You can bet your bottom dollar that there are legions of lawyers (ex-ambulance chasers?) on retainer; way behind the cameras; all burning the midnight oil; aimlessly scurrying and scampering around their underground war rooms; not unlike coked up, horny rats banging their blockheads against the cinder block walls; all the while striving to find the precise words and phrases to cleverly cover their boss’ considerable asses.

All of which doth beg a few questions:

  • Just how, pray tell, can infomercials, oft barren of entertainment, educational and ethical values ever live up to that bygone TV era’s Seal of Good Practice?
  • Would not TV viewers find yesteryear’s Test Patterns and Tones, maybe even that very, Analog Snow Blizzard far, Far, FAR more compelling than infomercials?
  • Would it not be financially advantageous for broadcasters to simply pull their transmitter plugs at the devil’s hour? (Doncha think burning up fewer kilowatt hours, alone, could compensate for lost, ill-gotten revenue?)
  • How can broadcasters even sleep at night when they simultaneously disown sponsors, yet, regularly air out their stinky ads over the transmitter airwaves, ANYWAY?

All things considered, I know I’ll sleep much more soundly if, from now on, I make a conscious effort to avoid the rude awakening of TV infomercials; i.e., by always remembering to engage my TV remote’s “sleep” button prior to my zonking out.


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