With all the cable and streaming services out there, I’m nevertheless still fascinated by the programming choices on the three commercial TV networks I grew up with, ABC, CBS, and NBC. Most recently I noticed that Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of five movies filling the CBS Sunday night lineup in the month of May 2020.
Once upon a time, showing movies on prime time commercial television was de rigeur. According to my TV bible, How To Marry a Millionaire, starring Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, and Betty Grable, was the first, airing on NBC on September 23, 1961. Gone With The Wind aired in two parts in early November 1976 and received at least a 47 rating/66 share of the market, comparable with Super Bowl broadcasts, percentage-wise.
Of course, the Wizard of Oz was shown on CBS for years. I watched it several times. But it wasn’t until I finally saw it in color in 1970 that I finally GOT it. The 1964 and 1965 airings were in the top 20 of the most viewed films on television. It’s why so much of the dialogue pops into my conversation: “What have you LEARNED, Dorothy?”
Now, I’m talking about theatrical releases. there were also a ton of made-for-TV movies, such as The Day After (1983), Helter Skelter (1976), and The Burning Bed (1984), all of which I watched at the time. There was also Little Ladies of the Night (1977), which I never even heard of, but was #2 on the list, at least as of 2009.
The schedule for CBS seems to have been most impacted by the coronavirus because their schedule has been most dependent on sports. Instead of showing the March Madness of college basketball, they’ve shown reruns of previous games. The Masters golf tournament in April provides the opportunity to see last year’s final round AGAIN, but with Tiger Woods doing the commentary. Nah.
As John Green pointed out, a lot of the thrill of watching a sporting event is NOT knowing the outcome. Back in the day – i.e., last year – I would DVR the World Series games and watch them in the early morning, being sure not to look at my email, the Internet generally, or live TV.
John Green found himself watching the 2012 Italian rugby finals because who knows who won the 2012 Italian rugby finals? I’ll admit I viewed the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series recently. Instead of that, maybe I should watch cricket, which I haven’t seen since my honeymoon in 1999. Or Australian rules football. Hey, they’re playing baseball in Taiwan; I’d watch that!