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August 31, 2015

Five things I've learned from television

by Jackie Schnoop, posted Jan 23rd 2008 11:35AM
Television's lessons for everyday lifeI've been thinking. Yeah, I know you might find that hard to believe, but it's true. I swear it is! What I've been thinking about is television. Ah, now you believe my thought processes are truly in motion. A lifetime of television watching is behind me and what do I have to show for my hours of dedication?

Well, other than the cool TV Squad gig, that is. That goes without saying.

What I have are life lessons learned from television, as well as some obscure bits of knowledge I may have overlooked had I led the scholarly life without television in my life.

So, I plan to share these tidbits of knowledge, a few of the life lessons I've been privy to over decades of wasted er ... wisely spent hours of television viewing. Right now, I'll go for five things, but who knows? My television learning days are still ongoing, as all learning should be.

1. I know I've mentioned this before, but I can't stress it enough. From several shows, in particular the Law and Order franchise shows -- get a cat, not a dog. You never see Fluffy the mutant Siamese cat's owners coming across dead bodies in an alley or Central Park, do you? No. Fluffy is home ingesting her catnip, sleeping in the window, scratching her litter out of its box. But, unless you yourself are the killer, there shouldn't be any dead bodies in your home for her to find. And, if you're a killer, your cat finding dead bodies in your home probably isn't the biggest problem you face in life.

But Fido the rough tough Pomeranian just has to go for walks and find those dead bodies, doesn't he? He starts barking so much that even if the owners try to avoid getting involved, a crowd gathers. Then the owners have to talk with the uniforms, then the flatfoots question them some more. Then the owners are late to work, lose their jobs and have to go on unemployment before they can secure new jobs. And why is all of this? It's because they chose a dog and not a cat as the family pet. Yep, I learned it from Law and Order.

2. Somewhere, not in my own life, all the phone numbers have a 555 exchange. Yes, it must be true! I can't even narrow it down to one specific show. I must be out of the loop because I know no one with a 555 phone number exchange.

Well, there's Jenny's number -- 867-5309. But that's music and an entirely different thing altogether. I feel shunned that I don't know anyone with a 555 exchange. Am I not one of the cool kids? Am I not in with the in crowd? If not for television, I wouldn't even know that a secret society of 555 phone exchangers exist. Huh. It's kind of like mole people or something.

3. Archie Bunker from All in the Family gave me some food for thought. Oh, no ... I don't mean new and creative uses for the words dingbat and meathead, nor do I mean bigoted expressions. I can think of one of the life lessons right off the cuff.

If you're awakened by a fire in your home, do you put on a sock and a shoe on one foot first or do you try for two socks, then two shoes? Oh, my. Archie had a point. If you put on one sock and one shoe, you could hop out of the home on one foot. With Mike's idea of putting on both socks and then both shoes, POOF. You could die in the fire due to the delay or have to run over hot embers with socked feet. Oh, geez. This is perplexing. Sometimes I put on both socks, then both shoes. But other times I go for one completed foot at a time. I don't know how I'd react in a fire. I do know that this episode will strike my mind if I'm ever in a fire situation. Heck, I'd probably go for my fuzzy bunny slippers. That would solve that one even if it made the neighbors gossip about my sanity or lack thereof. I credit television for giving me a game plan in the event of a crisis.

4. As a young child, Leave it to Beaver taught me how to fake baths. Yes, watching Wally and the Beaver dampen their towels, splash some water in the tub along with a handful of dirt, wet the washcloths ... I too could fool my parents. Now, mind you, I'm not sure why I wanted to fake baths. I actually kind of liked them.

So what has this little lesson done for my life? Well, I think it had the effect of reverse psychology. Nowadays, there's nothing more I like to do to relax than take a bubble bath with classical music playing. Oh, maybe a candle and a glass of white wine to accompany me.

Um. Not quite the sort of bath the Beaver was avoiding, but I'll throw the credit for love of baths to the days when I avoided them based on those daring Cleaver boys and their disrespect for authority.

5. If you personally know someone who has been on The Jerry Springer Show or shows of its ilk, it's time you found new friends. You might want to check out the possibilities of a name change, moving across the country, or asking about witness protection depending on the closeness of the relationship.

How do I know this? I'll tell you.

Some years back I left a fairly lucrative but high-pressure job to write a novel. Of course, I had to have some money coming in, so I took a McJob (no, not fast food) to support myself. It was an interesting job working with folks of rather dubious integrity. I felt my own life going in a downward spiral besieged by the dregs of society.

But when it really hit me how low my life had gone was when I saw someone I knew, someone I loosely considered a friend although perhaps more of just a co-worker or acquaintance, on the now long defunct Richard Bey Show, a Jerry Springer-esque spawn in the NYC area. Uh-oh. I came to the realization that if I knew anyone on any of the shows like that, I drastically needed to change my own life. And, so I did. I have trashy TV to thank me for coming to my senses. Thank you, Jerry Springer and Richard Bey!

In closing, I have to mention that I haven't even touched on all that I learned from PBS or educational television. Sometimes you learn from unexpected sources like Archie Bunker, Beaver Cleaver, and Jerry Springer. Now, you tell me ... what have you learned?

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Yup! You're right. All those 'Insights' are right on with the exception of the Shoe-Sock Sock/Shoe Episode. However, there is one fact that forever sticks out there - on ANY Show- whenever they "ORDER IN." Inevitably - and you can take this to the bank - the food will be CHINESE! Once in a rare blue moon you may see Pizza, but CHINESE FOOD takes the award, hands down. When our family happens to be watching a show where one of the cast says something about "Ordering In", we all yell out together - "CHINESE." Thanks for the chuckles.

January 29 2008 at 6:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lucy LeBlanc

I've learned that if I enjoy a TV program too much it will be cancelled.

January 25 2008 at 8:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think I'm more on the other side of the fence. When I look at a TV show I wonder how some things are possible

1.In the BRADY BUNCH...How are there nine people in the house and no bathroom?

2.How in mid season a producer will change a character, and think no one will notice. Such as in MY WIFE AND KIDS...

3.One for laughs is how can Tim the "ToolMan" Taylor get hurt so many times and still survive to host the show.

4.And the Magical Ammo Ferry, in almost any movie or TV show, reload peoples weapons without anyone seeing it.

Your prospective on movies is very intresting and educational to all so as we say in the Navy BRAVO ZULU. Looking forward to see more posts

January 24 2008 at 9:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Maxwell Smart always used to make KL5 phone calls. It was my understanding that 555 was setup as a prefix for just that purpose - to use in TV/movies. I know recently you can use it for like directory assistance 555-1212.

Chief Wiggum: "Ok, we've traced the phone number....555...Oh, it's gotta be fake"

January 24 2008 at 3:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought I was pretty smart when I was 7. I knew that Los Angeles' area code was 555. I knew because I saw it on a TV show. It wasn't until many, many years later that I realized it was generic.

January 24 2008 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

But if you DO own a cat - I learned NOT to send the assitant to the regional manager to your house at lunchtime to feed it!

January 23 2008 at 9:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

See, now, from CSI I learned that it's better to own a dog than a cat. A cat will eat your corpse if you die in your home and leave it without a food source. I'd rather have a pet that might lead me to dead bodies than one that will desecrate them.

January 23 2008 at 7:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


From the Wikipedia of course:

"The phone numbers that were dialed from various Honolulu-area phone booths throughout the run of the series were actual household numbers, which caused some "invasion of privacy" concerns for residents, even after the series ended; hence in the middle of the series run, the Honolulu phone prefix "(808) 555-xxxx" was to be used on every episode from then on. The "555-xxxx" phone prefix is still used on various TV crime dramas, like on "CSI:Crime Scene Investigation", where occasionally, a "(702) 555-xxxx" number is used."

January 23 2008 at 6:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to johngaltx's comment

I think the 555 predates Hawaii 5-0. Seems to me I recall old b&w movies using Klondike-5 as an exchange. That translates to 555.

January 24 2008 at 9:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I learned that if Beson/Stabler or Green/the guy from six feet under pay you a visit before 10:20 - it probably wasnt you.

January 23 2008 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I learned from the WB that if you grow up in North Carolina or at least in a fictional town that is filmed there... your vocabulary skills as a teenager are at the phD level of English scholars.

I also learned that blue collar, overweight men with minimal college educations and bad wardrobes tend to attract thin, educated women who'd rather not work.

January 23 2008 at 4:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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