Saturday, July 26, 2008

Television 1996: That Vast Wasteland!

Our family (this was written in 1996) has not been hooked up to cable television for more than fifteen years. Once in a while I look through an issue of "TV Times" to see what we're missing. The following 109 movies are a representative sample of what was offered during the first week of 1996, although I didn't get around to writing this article until March. The sit-coms and soap operas and advertisements on TV all have pretty much the same sort of message too.

I made the following print tiny so that if your kids are looking over your shoulder you can hit the BACK button before they see too much.

A

Accidental Meeting: Two women scheme to kill men for each other.

After Dark, My Sweet: Widow and con man try kidnap caper.

Almost Golden: Insecurity, substance abuse plague newswoman.

Ambassador: Blackmailers have U.S. ambassador's wife on film with PLO lover.

Ambition: Writer plays mind games with mass murderer.

American Cyborg - Steel Warrior: Killer cyborg hunts last fertile woman on Earth.

Angel Face: Socialite and her chauffeur up for murder.

At Close Range: Rural teen joins father's crime clan.

B

Babysitter: Baby sitter is the object of clients' obsessions. (T)

Bad Boys: Detectives probe murders linked to stolen heroin.

Badge 373: Racist police detective hunts thug for killing partner.

Bedroom Eyes: Jogging Canadian stockbroker peeps on kink, sees murder.

Belly of an Architect: Architect in Rome thinks wife is poisoning him for rival.

Blackout: Amnesiac cannot recall murders: ex-policeman can.

Blue Tiger: Woman seeks her son's tatooed killer.

Body and Soul: Medical-student boxer, his girlfriend, and the mob.

Body Chemistry 4 - Full Exposure: Attorney falls under sex psychologist's spell.

The Border: Easy money corrupts Border Patrol officer.

Breach of Conduct: Army colonel stalks wife of officer at Utah base.

Bret Maverick: Lazy Ace: Arizona poker player acts when sore loser robs bank.

The Burning Bed: Battered wife sets bed on fire with husband in it.

C

Cal: Young IRA recruit and policeman's widow have Ulster affair.

Caroline at Midnight: Reporter seduced by corrupt policeman's wife.

Casual Sex?: Single women talk about men at health spa. (V)

Charlie Varrick: Thief and partner rob mob bank, flee hit man and police. (V)

Choices of the Heart: The story of the U.S. founder of the birth control movement.

Choose Me: Radio sex therapist, romantic, hipster, gangster, and wife.

Club Med: Resort manager in Mexico has ex-lover as guest.

Cobra: L.A. detectives protect model from neo-fascist slasher. (V)

Code of Silence: Chicago cop attacks cocaine store by remote control.

Color of Night: N.Y. psychologist seeks friend's killer in L.A.

Columbo Goes to the Guillotine: Police detective suspects mind reader of murder.

The Comfort of Strangers: English lovers seduced by diplomat's son in Venice.

The Companion: Android's love for novelist turns lethal.

Cross My Heart: Couple spend third date lying, confessing.

D

Daddy: Pregnancy forces teen lovers to make adult decisions.

Dallas Connection: Bikini-clad assassins vs. secret agents.

Dead On: Married lovers scheme to kill for each other.

Deadly Love: Policeman falls for vampire photographer.

Deadly Past: Ex-convict helps blackmailed ex-girlfriend.

A Death In California: Socialite lies for man who raped her and killed her fiance.

A Death In Canaan: Writer defends teen for killing his mother.

Death Valley: Boy joins mother and her boyfriend, finds corpses.

Death Wish 4 - The Crackdown: Vigilante targets L.A. drug rings in girlfriend's behalf. (V)

Devil's Bride: Duke and friends form pentagram against satanist in 1920s.

Dial M for Murder: London playboy plots perfect murder of wife.

Dirty Work: Bail-bond buddies torn by mob and betrayal.

Disclosure: Boss accusses her co-worker of sexual harassment. (T)

Dolores Claiborne: Murder suspect and her daughter face past traumas.

Double Cross: One night of lust connects man to murder.

Dress Gray: Military cadet mired in general's cadet-murder cover-up.

E

Ed and His Dead Mother: Clerk's dead mom comes back as cannibal.

The Egyptian: Maid loves, Babylonian Temptress ruins Pharaoh's doctor. (T)

Experiment in Terror: Woman helps FBI agent catch killer holding her sister.

F

Fallen Idol: French ambassador's son casts murder shadow on butler.

Final Analysis: Psychiatrist beds patient's sister, prompting murder.

The Final Conflict: Antichrist Damien, now ambassador to England.

Four Weddings and a Funeral: English charmer meets lusty American.

Friday: Loafer, pot-smoker hang out on front porch.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle: Petty Boston hood rats on friends to avoid jail.

Friendships, Secrets and Lies: Baby's skeleton points toward ex-sorority sisters.

The Fugitive: U.S. marshal hunts doctor for murder of his wife. (T)

G

Ghoul: Ex-cleric in 1920s England keeps cannibal son in attic.

Gorilla at Large: Law student or gorilla could be fun-park killer.

The Graduate: College man gets seduced by his girlfriend's mother. (T)

The Great White Hope: Boxing champ punished for having white mistress circa 1910.

H

Hard Vice: Las Vegas police suspect call girls of murder.

Harlem Nights: Night club partners sting white mobster in 1930s Harlem. (V)

The Haunting of Sarah Hardy: Heiress's husband and friend plot seaside mansion murder.

Holy Matrimony: Hutterite's widow weds 12-year-old brother-in-law.

The Horror at 37,000 Feet: Jet captain's cargo brings ghosts on board.

How Sweet It Is: Photographer and wife flirt with others in Europe.

I

Illicit Behavior: Policeman's abused wife plots revenge.

Impact: Man hides with widow after wife botches his murder.

Indecent Behavior II: Sex therapist suspected in her patient's murder.

L

L.A. Dreams: Sleazy film producer casts small town starlets.

La Strada: Carnival strong man mistreats witless waif.

The Last Hit: Ex-CIA hit man loves widow marked for murder.

The Legend of Hell House: Physicist, wife, medium and researcher bait demons.

The Lost Weekend: Boozing writer lands in Bellevue with DTs.

M

The Manitou: Psychic asks witch doctor to get evil off girlfriend's back.

Meatballs III: Porno queen's ghost coaches summer-camp nerd.

Natural Born Killers: Lovers go on spree through New Mexico.

N

Night of the Demons: Teen holds Halloween seance to scare friends.

Night Visions: Writer experiences sexuality through the ages.

Nightmare on the 13th Floor: Travel writer finds cult of Satan in Victorian hotel.

Nuts: Public defender sides with call girl up for manslaughter.

O

Out of Sync: L.A. DJ falls for drug dealer's girlfriend.

P

Paradise Motel: Teen lets local Romeo use family's motel suite.

Parallax View: Reporter traces corporate assassination conspiracy.

Perfect: Rolling Stone reporter seduces aerobics instructor.

Poltergeist II: American Indian helps family prey to poltergeist. (V)

Poltergeist III: Demons find girl living with aunt and uncle in high-rise.

Popeye Doyle: New York detectives link call girl's overdose to Mideast power play.

Prince of Foxes: Cesare Borgia sends Renaissance man to seduce duke's wife.

Professional: Italian hit man protects orphan girl in N.Y. (V)

R

Raw Justice: Murder links ex-policeman, call girl and suspect.

S

Scorned: Wife seeks revenge on husband's co-worker.

Serial Mom: Baltimore housewife kills in her spare time. (V)

The Seven Year Itch: Wife's away; blonde upstairs gives man ideas. (V)

Sex, Love and Cold Hard Cash: Call girl and ex-con go after embezzled savings.

Sleep With Me: L.A. man loves his best friend's wife.

So Evil My Love: British widow joins con man in Victorian crime and passion.

Stay the Nite: Teen's mother entraps his lover whose husband he killed.

T

This House Possessed: Evil force holds rock star and his nurse.

Traces of Red: Palm Beach Policeman works sordid serial slayings.

V

Vice Squad: Hollywood hooker helps detective trap sick pimp.

W

The Wedding Banquet: Gay partners try to fool Taiwanese parents with fake wedding.

Y

The Year of Living Dangerously: Reporter betrays friend, lover in 1965 Indonesia.

That's the list, arranged alphabetically.

Sadly, I must admit that I have watched five of the above movies (T) in the theater, and have brought home nine others (V) from the video store. We have a TV set and a VCR, but no cable hookup. We rent movies and have a rule about not renting anything rated 'R'.

Now here is another alphabetical list of the beliefs, lifestyles, and ideals you will have firmly implanted in your hearts and minds if you watch these movies (or the sit-coms, soap operas, and advertisements) on TV. Every one of these sickening ideas is expressed in one or more of the movies above:

Wives are ABUSED. People make ACCUSATIONS and have AFFAIRS. We find the ANTICHRIST. There are ASSASSINATIONS by ASSASSINS. People AVOID JAIL.

BAIL BONDSMEN ply their trade with BANK ROBBERS. BATTERED WIVES burn their husbands. People with BEDROOM EYES keep BEDDING one another. We have BETRAYAL, BIKINIS, and BIRTH CONTROL. People BLACKMAIL one another. Men and women have BODY CHEMISTRY and are BOOZERS.

They use CALL GIRLS and resort to CANNIBALISM, CASUAL SEX, and CHILD ABUSE. They go to the COCAINE STORE, where there are CON MEN involved in CONSPIRACY with CORPSES. CORRUPTION and COVER-UPS are used by CRIME CLANS and CULTS OF SATAN.

Couples indulge in DEADLY LOVE and DEATH WISHES. They have DELIRIUM TREMENS. There are DEMONS and the DEVIL'S BRIDE. People do DIRTY WORK and are involved in DOUBLE CROSSES with DRUG DEALERS and DRUG RINGS.

They look for EASY MONEY, and are involved in EMBEZZLEMENT and ENTRAPMENT to get it. throughout the whole thing there is EVIL and EVIL FORCES. EX-CONVICTS and EX-LOVERS abound.

Lovers FAKE their FLIRTATIONS and FOOL one another. FUGITIVES flee.

GANGSTERS lurk. GAY PARTNERS deceive their parents. GHOSTS and GHOULS grimace.

There are HAUNTINGS and appeals to HELL. People are hooked on HEROIN. HIT MEN, HOODLUMS and HOOKERS provide a sense of HORROR.

IDOLS are idolized with ILLICIT BEHAVIOR and INDECENT BEHAVIOR.

There are KIDNAPPINGS, wives KILL their husbands, and husbands are KILLING their wives. It is all very KINKY.

There is LETHAL LOVE and there are LIES. Of course the LOVERS are unmarried and LUSTY.

We find MANSLAUGHTER and MASS MURDER. MEDIUMS and MIND READERS provide inspiration. MISTRESSES and MOBSTERS MURDER each other. There are a whole host of MURDER SUSPECTS.

NEO-FASCISTS in NIGHT CLUBS experience NIGHTS OF LUST and then have NIGHTMARES.

OBSESSIONS for children and drug OVERDOSES occur.

PASSION involves PEEPING TOMS who make PENTAGRAMS while dreaming of the PERFECT MURDER. Meanwhile, PLAYBOYS are PLOTTING to POISON POKER PLAYERS. There are some POLTERGEISTS and some PORNOGRAPHY QUEENS. People become POSSESSED and SMOKE POT with PSYCHICS. There are unwed PREGNANCIES.

RACISTS RAPE and RAT on each other and get REVENGE.

SATANISTS SCHEME during SEANCES to SEDUCE people. People are involved in SERIAL SLAYINGS and feel the SEVEN YEAR ITCH. And of course throughout all is SEX, SEX, SEX! SEX is overused and abused in every possible way. There are SEX PSYCHOLOGISTS and SEX THERAPISTS. There is SEXUAL HARASSMENT and SEXUALITY THROUGH THE AGES involving SICK PIMPS and the SKELETONS of babies. There are SLASHERS. The whole thing is SORDID. SORE LOSERS cast SPELLS while STALKING STARLETS. Bad cops and dirty detectives perform STINGS involving STOLEN HEROIN. There is politically correct SUBSTANCE ABUSE. Many SUSPECTS are suspected.

TEEN LOVERS and TEMPTRESSES feel TERROR. THIEVES and THUGS do their thing.

VAMPIRES with VICES are hunted by VIGILANTES. And of course throughout all is VIOLENCE, VIOLENCE, VIOLENCE!

There are even WITCH DOCTORS.


I have had people tell me that they don't have enough time to read the scriptures every day. They claim they don't have time to say their personal or family prayers. They state that there isn't enough time for family home evening. These same people often watch several hours of television every night.

They may even defend some of the movies in the above list. They'll say, "I saw this one and it wasn't all that bad..." It will be pointed out that television includes much more than the movies I've listed here. But as I've noted, the sit-coms and soap operas and advertisements all espouse pretty much the same themes. I guess if you could really limit the channels on your TV to KQED and the History Channel or something similar it would make a difference. But how often are parents around to supervise what children watch? And how often, when parents are at home, is supervision taking place?

It worries me a little that some of the people who read this might actually have their prurient interests stimulated by it, and use it as a list of movies to rent. Maybe I'm wrong to write these things.

P.S. You'd better click the BACK button right now and not leave this on the screen where your kids might see it.....

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