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Turn Off and Tune 
into Life Without TV

Turn Off and Tune into Life Without TV



What: Television Overview
Author: Anthony Scully

IF you are reading this it means my television has been assassinated. And I'm feeling much better now; thanks for asking.

After being reduced to tears twice after watching television for only two hours last week, I've decided that something's gotta give.

I have prescribed even less television, and getting out of the house more often to visit friends, as a remedy.

The problem is all my friends are television watchers so their Friends (Channel 9, Monday, 7.30pm) are my friends.

And for those of you aghast at the prospect of a night spent without Helen Kapalos, Don Burke or Friends (they're not really your friends) let me assure you: there is life in Newcastle past sunset.

Up until last week's State of Origin, when the TV spent the majority of time in the background under talking and drinking beer with a mate, the TV had been packed away in the spare room for about two months.

Perhaps it was with a hint of sentimentality for the characters that I accepted an invitation to watch ER with a friend last week.

But when they go and jam knives in the back of two of the show's most popular characters, and make you wait until the following episode for the outcome with their lives in the balance, you begin to become a bit sceptical about TV.

And it wasn't the stabbing that had me all dewy-eyed either.

I'm turning my back on television more and more because I'm of the opinion that most of it is so bloody compelling there will soon be no reason to get my bum up off the lounge.

This is not a case of jumping on the bandwagon after April's international 'Turn Off Your Television Month', which I heard about on the radio thank you very much.

I was over the tellie way before that.

The reason I'm keeping my television turned off more often is because I'm determined to get back in control of my own life and feelings.

Howling about a dog about to be put down on a family-rated television vet show (Prime's Animal Hospital), and bawling as two children are told that their parents have just been killed (Nine's ER), is not my idea of unwinding after a day at the office.

It's not that I can't handle the pain that life deals out from time to time. It's just that I choose not to revel in it for entertainment.

But after a day at work, 15 minutes on the lounge in front of the TV with your feet up before preparing an evening meal can pretty quickly turn into four hours (on average for most people) a night and a takeaway dinner.

Here's what happens. I bet it's a familiar scenario for most people.

You arrive home from work about 7.15pm and flop in front of the TV. After 15 minutes of spacing out your muscles are so relaxed that you start to get the 'hots for what's in the box with the dots'. Meanwhile on the tube a family has taken its 15-year-old pooch to the vet with a mild case of poisoning. There is talk from the husband of putting the animal down, which was enough to bring his wife and myself to tears.

Thankfully the dog survived, but I am told the week before someone elses pet met a much sadder fate.

I took the following story, about a cat rescued by some volunteers, as my cue to get to my friend's house to watch ER with her and the cat, who we both love very much.

I have to admit that I find the pace of ER rivetting. My friend also happens to be a nurse so, with a translator on hand to explain the show's medico-jargon, I was settled in.

It had been a while since I last tuned in so I was informed that Carol Hathaway had given birth to twins and a new Croatian spunk Dr Luka had joined the team.

So I was up to speed just in time to witness two kids receive their dreadful news. Good, now they had me blubbering, but what exactly did it prove?

That I'm still capable of emotions after having my mind numbed by relentless button-pressing advertising urging me to blow my nose with a Kleenex?

In a nice one-two combination punch, ER took two of the show's nicest characters, Abby and Carter, and had them stabbed and bleeding on the floor at the hands of a lunatic as a finale.

Now, unless I'm some heartless bastard, I have to tune in next week and find out whether they survive it, and if so, find out whether the bubbling sexual tension between the pair will ever materialise.

Gladly supermarket tabloids have already informed my viewing partner one of them doesn't make it, so next Thursday night I'm turning the television off in mourning.

Maybe I'll go out walking, watch a live band somewhere or listen to some CDs instead. I'll wait and see how I'm feeling at the time.

ascully@newcastle.fairfax.com.au



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