The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 January 2008

Next: Charlie Rose gets killer abs

A lot of us live by the old rule "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Much to our dismay, though, the Human Condition incorporates a tendency to tweak, and while PBS ain't exactly Tool Time, they're just as guilty:

Masterpiece Theatre. Oh, sorry, it's Masterpiece now, isn't it? What — the second word was too much to handle? We live in such an impatient blog-ridden society that no one can manage to wait around for a two-word title? Wait, I know — it was the use of "Theatre" and not the Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and E.M. Forster that made the series seem too intellectual for all those PBS-watching theatre-phobes. Like Masterpiece alone is so much better. It's just hanging out there all cold and unfinished. "Masterpiece" what? Society? Barbecue Sauce?

And it's not just the nomenclature, either:

And what is up with that new intro? Instead of a wending trip through library piles of gold-stamped, leather-bound books, you're giving me animation? A Reading Rainbow-esque book flipping leaves so bizarrely long and pliable they look like Kleenex? Growing up, I didn't WANT an animated book; I WANTED gold-stamped, leather-bound books! You made me want them! You made me read them!

And excuse me, please, but where are the Pallisers, the Bellamys, and the Poldarks? Because you've gotten rid of their familiar family portraits. I suppose you shoved them where you shoved Alistair Cooke and Russell Baker's leather chair and fireplace. Criminy, don't even get me started on the loss of the music that everyone knew as "The Masterpiece Theatre Song" but no one really knew as Mouret's "Rondeau" until they thought about choosing it as their wedding march.

In terms of sheer infidelity to one's purpose, this ranks with NPR's repeated offenses against Morning Edition, first turning B. J. Leiderman's theme music into gormless "smooth jazz," then sending Bob Edwards into radio limbo in favor of Whoever The Hell They Are, and now a desperate attempt to lure young folk. It's things like this which cause my checkbook to lock shut.

Posted at 2:43 PM to Almost Yogurt

TrackBack: 9:31 PM, 1 February 2008
» The Decline and Fall Of Just About Everything, part mxxviii from Old Grouch
Goddam PBS. Via: CG Hill, who is also upset by "NPR's repeated offenses against Morning Edition."...[read more]

People in marketing and sales of major media outlets must be near-suicidal these days. Their audience is aging quickly and the young folk aren't all that interested. Of course since the target demographic is 25-44 for that NPR thing, I'm not much past that range, so I'll take that as my compliment for the day! ;-)

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at 10:41 AM on 31 January 2008
"Masterpiece" what? Society?


Posted by: Ed Flinn at 12:17 PM on 31 January 2008

And to think that when I complain about the modernization-cum-spoiling of things, my friends all snort derisively and make off that I'm an old fogey.

It does seem rather odd to alienate the (admittedly small but geeky) group of people - especially the younger people, and yes, I know a few - who dig the 'classic' Masterpiece Theater.

Personally, I want the leatherbound books and the family portraits of the Pallisers...not some rip-off of the opening of "Mystery!" But then again, I'm almost 39, so to marketers, that means it's time for me to either shuffle off into the tarpit, or for me to be placed on an ice floe and pushed out into the ocean.

(The other problem? That old Sesame Street sketch with "Alastair Cookie" has just become obsolete.)

Posted by: fillyjonk at 4:22 PM on 31 January 2008

Sorry about the "smooth jazz" thing. They pay, I play. Perhaps an XTC version for y'all???

Posted by: BJ Leiderman at 12:54 PM on 2 February 2008

Good to hear from you. (Andy Partridge? Shudder.)

Posted by: CGHill at 11:51 AM on 21 February 2008