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Getting Ready for the Reruns

The first time I noticed my television viewing habits were changing was the last season of Seinfeld.  That program had been the top rated show for several years and yet I had never seen it.  It was only when the reruns started that I got hooked.  By that time, no one wanted to talk about it because everyone had already seen every episode.
The more channels we accumulated on our cable and satellite, the more unorganized my television watching became. I even got Tivo to record shows I might want to watch later. However, I just never got around to programming the machine.  By the time I figured it out a year later, we had recorded 45 episodes of Lost, another program I had never heard of.
Just last evening I watched Breaking Bad for the first time.  I had heard just a little scuttlebutt about the AMC program on the radio in the past few days.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I was watching the next to the last program of the series.  I had missed the first sixty episodes before I even heard about the show.
That wouldn’t make me feel so bad except that the Emmys voted Breaking Bad the Best Drama Series on television.  Commentary on the radio the next morning was universal in its praise, including one who said it was, “the best show ever on television”.
I’ll admit that it was good and I plan to watch the reruns, but the best ever?  Obviously that reporter must be too young to have ever seen The Andy Griffin Show, I Love Lucy or M*A*S*H.   
The Emmys also voted Modern Family as the best comedy series for the fourth time.  I will confess I have never watched it, don’t know what channel it is on and only heard of it in the past few weeks.  
When it comes to comedy, do you think Modern Family stacks up favorably against Cheers or Friends or even Home Improvement?   I don’t know, but I will find out in the reruns.
Television is changing, no doubt.  My grandchildren watch programs on the iPad or even the iPhone.  Their parents watch what they want to watch and nothing else.  The Big Three networks of my youth, CBS, NBC and ABC no longer dominate the Emmys.  In fact, they are hardly present.
Still, with over 200 channels to watch on a television in almost every room in the house, I still long for the truly great episodes of television programs that gripped the entire nation.
The top rated television program from 2003 until 2011 was American Idol, the longest winning streak in television history.  For eight seasons, it captivated the nation’s attention in a new and different way.
The next top rated shows for five consecutive seasons were All in the Family and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.  A longtime CSI fan, I don’t believe it grips this country the way Archie Bunker did with some of his outrageous comments.
As for the most watched single episode, nothing even comes close to the final program of M*A*S*H.  Over 125 million Americans watched as this ground breaking series said their goodbye.  Over 77% of the televisions in the entire country were tuned to that one single program, including mine.
For those of you, who like me, missed all those weeks of Breaking Bad, don’t worry.  Starting on Wednesday, they are going to run all 61 episodes consecutively on the AMC channel.  You won’t even have to watch the reruns.
Dan Ponder can be reached at

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