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TV Acres Newsletter

Those Irritating
TV Credit Obits

by Jerome A. Holst    

When I sit down to watch TV, I don't want to be disturbed. TV is my way of relaxing and getting away from it all. Of course, the TV commercials placed between the programming bother me, but hey, that's the trade off:  I put up with these little intrusions, so the TV producers can get the revenue to air the programs. But as of late, more and more programs are getting into the habit of intruding further into my viewing time by placing annoying little epitaphs, or obituary notices at the end of a TV show when someone close to the show dies. Is this really necessary. Well, I just don't think so. 

I understand that some cast member or creative member of a show passed away and the producers of the program, in a moment of grief, decided to use the TV credits as a way of saying goodbye to a friend. Now, they might think nobody would mind such a touching gesture, but you what, I mind. I take my TV watching seriously. I enjoy the texture of the storyline. I get enthralled in the plot and I don't appreciate it when just as the show ends, just at the point I get to say Wow! that was a fun show or a great show, that a stupid little reminder of someone passing away pops up to disturb my viewing pleasure. I didn't tune into the show to be reminded of real life, but rather, I wanted to escape into a fantasy land to be entertained. And, if by chance one of these "Obit" notices appears at the end of a show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer - that contains a lot of "killing and death,"  I can handle the pretend TV death and violence. But what I can't handle is some uninvited TV Obit intruding into my viewing time and interjecting an unsolicited real world "memorial" about someone I don't even know. Frankly, I don't want to know about them. I just want to watch my show and leave the viewing experience with a bit of contentment.

I'm reminded of the 1993 movie The Fugitive when Harrison Ford as Dr Richard Kimble is confronted with capture at the top of a dam. He tries to tell Tommy Lee Jones who plays Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard that he is innocent but the Gerard character flatly tells him, "Hey, I don't care." And that's my point about all these TV Credit obits. "I don't care!" And phooey on the TV show producers who assume that I will care. These  Obits are just plain inappropriate and unwelcome, as far as I'm concerned. Take note TV producers: It's my job to watch the show and enjoy it; it's your  job to make it enjoyable, So, don't inflict upon me, in the privacy of my own home, a weepy little death notice about someone one who died in someone else's life. I can't do anything about it, anyway. And when the show goes into reruns, and the episode runs again, and the now "dated" TV Obit re-emerges, I won't care then either. I'll still be irritated by the intrusion, but I just won't care.

And something else. If I personally wanted to place a little three-second screen message at the end of a TV program, I would have to pay for the privilege. It's called a "commercial." Are the people placing these death notices paying for the privilege?. I don't THINK so. And because the "public airwaves" are regulated by the FCC, I would think that such postings would be considered an unfair use of the airwaves.

After all, the credits at the end of the show are meant to be instructive. They're supposed to tell us who starred in the program, the names of the stage crew who made the show possible, but certainly not what personnel died. The producers of the show shouldn't take license to use the programs as a "free bulletin board for departed souls" I can tell you this, if my uncle Joe died, do you think I'd get free obituary notice on the TV show credits of my choice. Not likely.

Now, back to my main point. If I watch a TV program, it is implied that I want to be entertained or educated. It doesn't imply I want to hear about some John or Jane Doe who passed away in Hollywood last month. There is a place for this kind of information. It's called THE OBITUARY PAGE. USE IT! To summarize: Get out of my face, let me watch my shows in peace and stop with the TV Obits already. The world is depressing enough as it is. Don't put more bad news on our TV shows as well. 

Oh, just one more closing note: John Thaw, the British actor who played the role of Inspector Morse died on February 21, 2002 from throat cancer. He will be missed.



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