The Idiot-box. Still an idiot!

It was way back when I was in the eighth standard that the cable connection in my house was gotten rid of. I have to confess that in the initial times that followed it, I did miss it. After all I had the habit of either watching the television or living my life.

A year later I got my computer. Those few years in my remaining school life that I spent with the computer were indeed priceless. I might even say I was saved by what could only have been described as the distraction of the television garble. As a result I learnt so much about the computer, its functioning and the various operations in it; less than which my peers used to pay for in those computer-education institutes. I learnt how to make the most efficient use of the Office and the internet. I learnt how to tweak operating systems and get the most out of my machine. And at one point of time, I even had my own operating system ready. But let’s not allow me to carry on with this bragging.

After so many years, even today I feel the quality of the content they feed us on television is just pitiable. Though surprisingly still, the number of television viewers, at least in India, is awfully big! Last week I was over at my grandparents’ for the weekend which was when I encountered my old flame again.
Gosh! The series of those sorry soaps and serials, of which I had only heard for so many years, just depressed me so bad. First of all, their names are just so irrelevant and ridiculous. And then, even the content is so overwhelmingly flawed. I was simply short of reactions for the threatening picture being painted before me.

Of course, like every other rule and routine, there still remain a few exceptions. The Discovery Channel and the National Geographic, I remember were just as good as they are now. And of course, the only thing that I so miss about television, is watching Manchester United fire goals during the weekend matches. But my sanity in return for this sacrifice is only a bargain, I reckon.

Over the years, I have observed that the only shows that have scored with the audience are the ones that were either copied from the western show makers or from amongst each other. To name a few, KBC, Kamzor Kadi Kaun, Heartbeat, Khatron Ke Khiladi, Indian Idol, Big Boss and Sach Ka Saamna, India’s Got Talent (incidently quite a few of these were produced by Siddharth Basu who also hosted Mastermind India, also “inspired”, on BBC India, ) among others are/were the ones that I had mostly heard of. So I presume they were the ones to have been most popular; although please correct me if I am wrong or if you feel there were more names that I missed out. Among the ones that copy each other, it will be more obvious to a regular viewer to name the shows; although I feel most of the game-shows and the talent hunts (musical and otherwise) are the biggest copy-cats.

If not these, you are then left with the tear-gas laden, make-up stashed and the designer lifestyle fairytales of those pathetic serials and soaps of the so called ‘Family channels’. Let me not get into elaborating my views about them; for whatever is said about them will never be enough.

So all the bewitched viewers can sit the entire evening in front of the television getting depressed. And then the series finally ends or if they (miraculously) get bored of the show, they can wait for a next inspired show that has been copied from head to toe and presented to them by a leading Bollywood showman. There is just no quality. It feels like there is such a dearth of grey matter and creativity that we cannot even come up with some decent shows to entertain an audience even if only for a year.

Though all is not that bad. I still catch some very informative and entertaining shows on the internet like The Big Fight, We The People, Aap Ki Adalat, Surabhi etc. (I know what a TV glutton would say to these names: geek! So be it.) From the western ones, I have my collection of Friends, Lost, Prison Break, Sherlock Holmes, Hustle, House and so many more to always fall back on. And yes! Tintin too! It is also not as if we have always have had this lack of quality entertainment. In the past, we had some amazing shows like Byomkesh Bakshi, Bharat Ek Khoj, Nukkad, Wagle Ki Duniya, Hum Paanch, Dekh Bhai Dekh and many more. The list is surprisingly long, if not endless.

Although why the level of quality shows has only diminished to negligible standards over the years still remains a mystery to me. Is it just out of laziness to do something original? Or is our continual aping of the west again at play? And this is not helped by the fact that there have been some original but forgettable attempts like Rakhi Ka Swayamwar! No! That is not quality. Although Roadies, The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, CID and a few others have raised hopes.

Can only keep my fingers crossed that the situation improves. Although, with my world away from these soaps and shows; I wouldn’t really be bothered if it didn’t. I am just thankful that the weekend got over and I am back to my laptop where I do not just take in stuff fed to me, but also do things of my own. I do not just sit and watch, I interact! But a better scenario qualitatively on television would not hurt me either.

And with that note, I go off for dinner.

Have a good week.. or what remains of it.

Rohit Rohan