(CSTB subeditor Jake casts his vote for Thanksgiving TV viewing…laces out)
At least two of next Thursday’s three Thanksgiving games look pretty watchable from this vantage point (Miami at Dallas being the lesser of the trio), but the Boston Globe’s Kevin Paul Dupont would prefer to sacrifice his eyeballs on NBC’s telecast of the National Dog Show. “It’s the way we watched sports in the ’60s and ’70s,” argues Dupont, ” before the whole experience turned into a full sensorial battering and an insult to our intelligence…watching sports on TV was once a leisurely, entertaining, even relaxing experience. Now it’s an exercise in survival, one that leaves me wrung out, strung out, anything but feeling good when the show is over.” I’m gonna take a wild guess that Dupont’s not a test match cricket fan.
The on-air people don’t scream. That alone is worth hanging with the broadcast. I listen to the conversation, I learn, I get engaged rather than pummeled. There isn’t a constant barrage of stats or an incessant bottom-of-the-screen crawl giving “real time’’ updates of other dog shows. We don’t have to listen to players or coaches spouting tired clichés, making lame excuses, or stammering through awkward moments such as trying to explain their latest failed HGH test or last night’s DUI charge. Dogs behave. Especially show dogs.
Think about it, would a show-level dachshund, cocker spaniel or big ol’ English sheepdog ever duck out of competition en masse to gobble fried chicken and swill beer back in the canine clubhouse? Never. Not that I think any dog would be above that, because all dogs live to sniff and eat. But these dogs have respect for the game when it’s being played. Even if it’s not their turn on the floor, they are either at their owner’s side, under a groomer’s brush, or catching a few restorative winks in their crate. Oh, maybe a small snack here or there, but all dogs do that. Their being, even in the heat of competition, is shaped around treats.
Quickly, and dramatically, but with no clash of cymbals or flashing of on-screen graphics or the least bit of gut-gushing hyperbole from the broadcast crew (“Why, Sir Godfrey, you . . . DIRTY DOG!’’), the judge sharply announces the best dog. That’s it, show over. Without a single rolled eye or harrumph from other dogs or handlers. I’ve yet to see a winning dog pound paw to chest, then point heavenward.
Yes indeed, why can’t today’s
uppity self-obsessed professional athletes be more obedient, cuddly and unpaid? Dupont calls the dog show, “the kind of relaxing escapism that TV delivered many moons ago,” and while I’ve no quarrel with the event or it’s participants, there’s something a little screwy about Dupont resenting any infusion of personality (or god forbid, real life circumstances) coming to bear on televised sports. Whether or not watching mainstream sports is relaxing is a matter of taste (some would opine that spending any quality time in front of a television set is a brain-dead pursuit), but pining for a more “escapist” era in TV programming just sounds like code for not having to tolerate certain types of people on your TV screen. Like, say, John Lackey.