I have made much of my living from television over the last 25 years. I was a staff writer-producer on three different network series, over ten different network seasons, and I have written scripts for six different shows, three dramas, three comedies. I’ve drawn a paycheck on something like 250 episodes.
However, a little self-reflection is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to the present day world of TV. At a time when voyeur-vision (read “reality TV) is dominating the airwaves and bandwidth, and the entertainment cosmos has exploded into a million-channel universe, has TV really become the “vast wasteland” predicted by a former chairman of the FCC? Maybe it’s time to look back at some of the prognosticators of the past — many who earned a right to their opinions as working TV professionals.
First a whole dish of… dish from a famed film director and one-time TV maven.
“Television is like the American toaster; you push the button and the same thing pops up every time.”
“Seeing a murder on television can help work off one’s antagonisms. And if you haven’t any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.”
“Television has brought back murder into the home, where it belongs.”
“Television has done much for psychiatry by spreading information about it, as well as contributing to the need for it.”
– Alfred Hitchcock
And then there are these fun little shots across the bow from some of television’s greats of the Golden Age.
“Television is medium. So called because it is neither rare or well done.”
– Ernie Kovaks
“Theater is life. Film is art. Television is furniture.”
– Murray Wilson
“Imitation is the sincerest form of television.”
“Television is a device that permits people who haven’t anything to do to watch people who can’t do anything
– Fred Allen
“If god has cable, we are the 24-hour doofus network”
– Will Durst
“Working on television is like being shot out of a cannon. They cram you all up with rehearsals, then someone lights fuse and – BANG – there you are in someone’s living room.”
– Tallulah Bankhead
“Television is more interesting than people. If it were not, we would have people standing in the corners of our rooms.”
– Alan Coren
“Television is democracy at its ugliest.”
– Paddy Chayevsky
And one final bromide from one of our most esteemed cultural thinkers:
“The answers to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle: they’re on TV.”
– Homer Simpson