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February 12, 2009

TV commercials are ruining my showtimes – A view from the viewer of CSI:NY, Criminal Minds, Grey`s Anatomy, Private Practice

I’m having a hard time getting into evening TV anymore. I used to love evening TV, where I could throw on my comfortable clothes, grab a snack, and zone out for a little while. I used to get so wrapped up in the stories, time would fly by until before I knew it, it would be time for bed. What the heck has happened to evening TV?

I’m not saying there isn’t still quality programming on TV, by the way. I still absolutely adore CSI:NY, and don’t even bother calling me while Criminal Minds is on; I won’t even answer the phone. Pushing aside for a moment the downward spiral of Grey’s Anatomy, my issue is not the programs themselves. My issue is the advertisements.

For some reason, it is now common practice for a one-hour television drama to have commercial breaks every 5 to 10 minutes. Anyone who thinks I’m exaggerating is more than welcome to count next Thursday, during Grey’s Anatomy, how many minutes of show go by before another break. It is not more than 10, and it is absolutely ridiculous. My parents and I watched the episode, start to finish, and I can’t even recall exactly what happened, beyond a few points here and there.

The constant commercial breaks have fractured the storytelling aspect of the television drama. It’s like trying to sit down and read a book, except every 10 minutes you have to get up and do something else. The “story” part is long gone, because there are too many interruptions. What do I remember most from watching Grey’s Anatomy? “Welcome to the Jane zone.” Yes IKEA, I enjoy your products, and honestly thought that commercial was funny – until I’d seen it 5 times during one TV show…it’s no longer funny.

It got to the point for me that, by the time we finished watching Private Practice (which follows Grey’s Anatomy) I couldn’t sit still anymore. My attention span was totally gone, thanks to the constant, and often repetitive, advertisements. I got through the episode, but I didn’t feel like I was fully attuned to it; I was actually watching the clock, waiting anxiously for the next commercial break: I knew it was coming, it was the waiting that was killing me. The break would come, and we would groan, and I would get up and find something else to do. I had a full-blown case of Ants in Pants, despite wanting nothing more than to sit and relax.

More and more now, I’m borrowing TV-on-DVD from friends and family, to avoid this issue. Swapping seasons of Criminal Minds, Sex & The City and Beverly Hills, 90210 is better than suffering through constant advertising blitzes, hell-bent on destroying the all the fun of prime time TV. I’m happy to say though, the new TV system has a PVR, which means once I move, I may not have to suffer anymore – provided I figure out how to use it! PVR and TV-on-DVD, bless you both for providing viewers with a way out. Sorry advertisements, you’ve worn out your welcome. You definitely won’t be missed!

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