Re-runs are fun but the commercials can be downright depressing


If you don’t count the 6:30 evening news, our television watching has become pretty limited over the years.

Very few shows do we follow regularly. Some evenings our set is clicked off by 7 p.m. or whenever we get around to viewing a recorded version of the evening news. 

A chance watching of a portion of the Golden Globes telecast a few days ago confirmed our viewing habits must be far out of the mainstream: We knew nothing about virtually any of the shows that drew the award nominations and recognized almost none of the actors. They all appear on the “premium” cable channels we’re not willing to pay extra for, or their shows are “streamed” to televisions via some sort of internet wizardry. I think those shows may be available if we’d take that little gadget my son gave us out of the coffee table drawer where we put it after the gift subscription expired. Our basic cable gives us around a hundred or so channels, it seems. Since we can’t find much we consider worth watching on that many choices, paying considerable dollars to browse dozens more just doesn’t seem a wise investment.

All of this, of course, only confirms a sneaking suspicion we’ve harbored for some time.

Not only are we no longer “cool,” we are certifiable “old fogeys.”

Any lingering doubt of our un-cool status vanished a couple of weeks ago after I wasted an hour or so watching a couple of channels offering programs so old they were not only not in high-def, they weren’t even in high-color. They were black-and-white.

And the acting wasn’t really all that good, not as good as my memory had recalled it from around 50-60 years ago. There was Flint McCullough on Wagon Train, always charming the ladies and beating up the bad guys. And Paladin (wire San Francisco) still seemed somehow menacing as he gruffly put fear in the hearts of bad guys and defended the honor of ladies throughout the old west. Twilight Zone still  had that creepiness and drama, not to mention the mesmerizing voice of creator Rod Serling as he introduced each segment.

Watching old TV shows from our childhood can be entertaining but the deluge of commercials that accompany these shows are so depressing they can take much of the fun away.

Sponsors appear convinced any of us old enough to want to watch these shows from the 50’s or 60’s all have a wide selection of problems that plague us. Commercials not-so-subtly remind us we need to “call now” to discuss burial insurance or to get detailed advice on how not to have our pensions scammed away from us.

Worry about “regularity” and dementia are obviously spoiling our days and nights and we need only call the toll-free number or visit a nearby drug store to find relief. (And why does anyone need a toll-free number anymore? Who pays long-distance charges these days?)

My youth and vigor have never seemed so remote as the other day after one announcer repeatedly mentioned the “great programming” we all once enjoyed so long ago — in the 90’s! And the commercials that brought us that show talked only of reviewing pensions, reducing our cholesterol, and increasing our exercise. Or was it the other way around?

I probably could remember if I wasn’t an old fogey.

• Robert M. Williams, Jr. is Editor & Publisher of The Blackshear Times. Email:

Robert M. Williams, Jr. can be reached at