When I was a wee lad, PBS meant excellent television - shows like Elizabeth R, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, and Black Adder. Sure, PBS still has some of the best shows anywhere - Inspector Morse reruns anyone? But lately, particularly during fundraising, channels 13 and 21 have become downright terrifying.
Joe Queenan observed that Riverdance, a show based entirely on one dance step, was breathtakingly awful - not Andrew Lloyd Webber awful, but still pretty bad. Despite this fact, PBS is now running something called Leahy. It consists of that one Michael-Flatass-style dance move but this time executed by singing fiddlers. It sucks.
You want more? How about Yanni? Two fucking hours of Yanni. Yanni, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure, is what Kenny G would have become had he taken piano instead of sax lessons. Yanni is Mandy Patinkin squared, Michael Bolton cubed. He makes the hideous John Tesh sound like Alfred Brendel. He has done as much damage to our civilization as Cher. He is Barry Manilow awful. He is Billy Joel awful. He's really that bad.
What else? How about Lawrence Welk reruns every goddamned Saturday? How about cheesy Austrian violinist Andre Rieu? The Blue Man Group? Oh yes, of course they've got that too! The Doo Wop Cavalcade? Coming right up!
As I write this, Andrea Bocelli is singing September Morn on WLIW 21. You can say lots of awful things about Neil Diamond - and I have said all of them - but he never made that song sound that schmaltzy.
Some people won't complain - they'll think they have to take Antiques Roadshow to get to American Masters; suffer through Tavis Smiley to get to Ric and Ken Burns; watch Neil Sedaka to make it to Frontline - but must it be so? Can't we have This Old House without The Carpenters? Richard Bucket without Robert Kiyosaki? The News Hour without The New Irish Tenors?