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Why I Don’t Miss Cable

Well, I still have cable. At least (legal) basic.

But there was a time when I was a wealthier, younger, dumber man that if it there was a channel, I had it. All 143 different HBO incarnations (including “HBO Latino” which I enjoyed). All the SHOWTIMES, ESPNs’, news networks, history/documentary/educational stuff.

Everything.

And it was an exciting time. “The Sopranos” was in it’s prime. HBO also featured “OZ“, a hard-core prison drama I loved.

And I’m a boxing fan: if you’re going to follow it at anything near a steady pace, cable is a necessary evil. For all the HBO, ESPN and SHOWTIME cards, not to mention the many pay-per-views a year.

But that was a different time. Before I had home Internet and a fine laptop. Before much of what is out there had turned to s*%#. Before maybe I got older and my tastes changed. Before prime-time television finally broke free of reality TV - for the most part -  and got kind of interesting.

So here’s a list why I have – maybe – all of 35ish channels and why I’ve never found the boob tube more compelling. Why I caved an finally got up at 3am one very dark Friday and nabbed a 42″ flat screen

And before I proceed, let me say I still follow boxing relentlessly; if you know me you’ve heard me mention my friends “Johnny B” and Rick at least once. Rick is the fellow boxing scholar. John has the big, beautiful house in the cities with a magnificent home theatre where I am allowed the privelige of watching the big fights and socializing with people who are very special to me.

Anything else I need to see, see the aforementioned Internet.

I’ll also add I understand there are some quality shows out there that people love: “True Blood“, “Dexter“, the “Tosh” one, “Entourage“, the new one on HBO about prohibition-era gangsters; I’ve seen at least some of all of them and sorry (insert any character’s name here)____________, you’re no Tony Soprano.

If HBO is still doing “Real Sports” with Bryant Gumbel, that’s a damn good show. So was the one with Bob Costas.

And while we’re at it, thanks HBO for throwing the boxing series “24/7” on your web site to watch.

Okay.

1. “Friday Night Lights” on NBC. I hate that it is both in its final, fifth season and that the entire season airs on DIRECT before moving to NBC. Kyle Chandler’s portrayal of  high school football coach Eric Taylor is always mesmerizing: he’s as uber-competitive and football obsessed as all the zealots who populate the fictional Dillon, Texas. But he also knows it’s his duty to keep an objective, level head and steady presence for the sake of the kids he loves. It also gets bonus points for writing off/adding new characters, locations and situations and still being great.

2. “House” on FOX. Nowhere – and I mean nowhere – as good as it once was. The proverbial shark has been cleared. But Hugh Laurie and Robert Leonard are still great.

3. Any given local news cast. I give bonus points to FOX 9 due to my long working-relationship with sports director Jim Rich, but I’ll watch any of them. Network evening news died with Walter Cronkite, but I think the local stuff is important.

4. “Sherlock” on PBS. This one I literally CANNOT say enough about. Engaing, thrilling, compelling, stylish, smart, intense, hilarious, brilliantly acted and executed. It’s set here, in the 21st century; laptops, texing, internet – all used creatively and believably. Watson is an Afghanistan war vet. Instead of a journal, he keeps a blog chronicling he and Holmes’ adventures.

There are no stuffy-sounding “Holmes’” and “Watsons’”, here. They are John and Sherlock. Holmes is a “Consulting Detective”. He keeps a web-site, “The Science of Deduction”. He texts. Instead of opium, it’s nicotine patches he uses. He still plays the violin to think but there’s no weird hat; he prefers a stylish scarf. They use graphics on the screen to show you what Sherlock is thinking as he observes clues and deducts crime scenes.

I mean it, the thing is impeccable.

It was shot as part of “Masterpiece Theatre” and only three episodes as each was 90 minutes+ and commercial free of course. Benedict Cumberbatch is dark, riveting, razor-sharp, cocky, condescending and dismissive as Holmes. Martin Freemanis the humble, overwelmed,  unlucky, often frustrated comic-relief but dedicated and steely-nerved Watson.

They’re still at 221B Baker Street. Inspector LeStrade is still the Scotland Yard point-man (Please call me. We may need you, he’ll text). Mrs. Hudson still the landlady.

And in one of the most goosebump-inducing scenes ever, at the end of “A Study in Pink“, the pilot episode, the villian lay dying on the floor after being shot. During his confrontation with Sherlock, he had mentioned a “benefactor”.

Sherlock steps on his wound, torturing him. “Give me a name!!!”, he demands over and over.

And with his last, dying gasp, the killer lets out the primal shriek.

MOOOOORRRRREEEEEEAAAAAAARRRRRRRTTTTTEEEEEEEEE!!!!

There’s a second season prepping for 2011.

If you’d like to borrow the first on DVD, let me know.

4. PBS also gives us “American Experience” (recent epsiodes focusing on the old west and Lee Harvey Oswald have been partciularly amazing). And of course we await Ken Burn’s next piece. “Antinques Roadshow” is good from time to time as well (I love screaming at the screen “ten-grand for that POS???!!!!!”).

And finally, the CBS triple-threat.

5. “60 Minutes“. Still compelling, can’t-miss deal. I do miss Mike Wallace. But at least one of the features is always very interesting. Scott Pelleyis very good and that blonde, english chick is smokin’. Recent pieces on my man Manny Pacquiao and the “Spider Man” musical on broadway were standouts.

Tonight (12/19/10) they’ll be featuring a story on a guy from my hometown who has a some sort of freakish-like memory. Mom called this morning. Not often it starts with do you remember so-and-so? Well they’ll be on “60 Minutes” tonight.

6. “CBS Sunday Morning“. Again, always at least one story that’s great. This morning it was about Matt Damon. Last week it was about a freaky looking organist.

7. “Hawaii Five O”. I’ll keep this one short: Grace Park.

She will be mine. Oh yes, she will be.

Other than all of the above, I’m on the internet, on the air, watching an old fight I’d recorded or just not paying attention.

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