Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Final Four Puff Piece

As the Final Four of the Invention Bracket is upon us, we know that it wouldn't feel like a true Final Four without at least one ridiculous puff piece on one of the teams. Today, we take a closer look at the highest remaining seed, television. Let's send it to Greg Gumbel in the studio:

Gumbel: Welcome back to our Final Four coverage. There are many television fans here, but none bigger than one young man. We now bring you a story about television, and its influence on one.... very.... special.... fan.

(Cut to an empty living room. The TV is on. Piano music plays softly in the background.)

(Narrator: Most of us know the television set as a source of entertainment and news. It has most definitely revolutionized the way we get information. But most of us don't know how much of an impact TV can have.)

(Close-up, slowly scanning Sam's face. Then pull back to show Sam seated on a couch, leaning forward, hands together.)

(Narrator: Meet Sam. He may seem like a normal 24-year-old. However, there's one thing that separates him from most other 24-year-olds. Sam watches.... way too much television.)

Sam: It all started when I was a couple of years old. Back then, I'd watch an hour or so a day. My parents really tried to restrict my TV-watching time. Growing up, I'd sneak out of my room when I was supposed to be sleeping and would watch TV until my parents caught me and made me go to bed.

(Narrator: All that changed, however.... when Sam went to college.)

Sam: Oh, yeah.... hours and hours on end. I'd watch whatever I could find. Network shows, sports, trashy dating shows when everything else was showing infomercials, and occasionally the infomercials themselves.... I could sit in my chair and watch for hours on end. In fact, there was a day where I didn't even get up out of my chair. Swivel chairs are amazing things.

I'd leave my dorm room open at all times. People were always stopping in and watching a show or two with me. But while they were watching an hour or so of TV on a rotating basis, I would sit there and lose complete track of time. Six, seven hours straight wasn't rare for me.

Interviewer: And how did this make you feel?

Sam: I loved it. I got into shows I never even knew existed beforehand. I felt like I could pick up a remote and watch anything I wanted to. I was on top of the world.

(Narrator: Sam was living the dream. But his world was about to come crashing down, in the form of a small metal box.)

Sam: College was also the first time I tried DVR. The moment that first program had finished recording, I knew I was hooked. I would DVR things that I wouldn't normally watch, mostly on the three-digit channels.

Interviewer: Three-digit channels?

Sam: Yeah, channels numbered 100 and above. Where you'd find the stuff that most people never watch.... things like the Fox Reality Channel. Nothing could match the feeling of waking up at noon and finding an episode of World's Deadliest Whale Hunting Accidents that had been recorded at 5AM. I was getting into a dangerous area.

Interviewer: When did you realize you had a problem?

Sam: I think it was when I started considering watching my recorded programs as a chore. Shows that I didn't even want to watch. Shows like the third season of Heroes. But since they were there, I had to watch them. I couldn't pull myself away.

(Narrator: But sometimes, help comes from unlikely places.)

Sam: At the height of it all, I was back home, looking through some photo albums. There was one of me as a little kid, in front of the TV. I couldn't have been happier. No obligations, watching only what I really wanted to watch. I knew right then that I had to make a change. I stopped watching everything I could record. No more awful shows. Only ones that I really wanted to watch. When I graduated and got a job out of college, I was down to only a few hours a day. I was living my life, free of those burdens. It felt great.

Interviewer: So now you watch a reasonable amount of TV?

Sam: Oh, absolutely not.

Interviewer: Wait.... what?

Sam: I'm unemployed now. I've got nothing but time. For me, "time management" means "killling time." I'm back off the wagon and I've never been happier. Man, I can't wait to watch Survivor on Thursday. Russell's a real badass.

(Fade to Greg Gumbel staring awkwardly into the camera.)

Gumbel: Uh.... we'll be right back.

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