Anna Tambour presents 


The virtuous medlar circle
thoroughly bletted
    In the rabbit hole
a monthly column by A.C.E. Bauer

May 2006
How to ruin TV

I used to be a television junkie.

As a kid, I watched TV after school, after homework, after bed (if I could sneak it in), every Saturday morning, anytime I thought of sitting still. My parents, worried about my habit, fed me books—which worked well, except that I was a speed reader, and managed to fit in plenty of time for “The Streets of San Francisco,” “Kojak,” “Star Trek,” and “All In the Family.” In college, I discovered soap operas and “Saturday Night Live” and I was sunk. My saving grace was that cable hadn’t been invented (or if it had, wasn’t in common use), and most kids didn’t go to college with their own set. So I only watched when I visited home. The rest of the time, I fell back on books, and devoured a fair number.

In law school, my roommates brought sets with them. My habit resumed, full time—except that I had to complete a degree, and that did require work. Besides, something strange was happening. It began with shows about lawyers: I sat in front of the tube and argued. “You’d never get to court that fast.” “No one, absolutely no one, cross examines that way.” “That’s f***ing unethical!” And then there was the all-purpose: “Oh, come on!”

I finally noticed that my mother, a computer engineer dating back to the days when they used vacuum tubes, never watched thrillers that hinged on computers. She’d fulminate: “They don’t have blinking lights.” “You have to put it into code, for heaven’s sake.” “What’s with all that useless tape?”

The nail in the coffin was having children. The last time I allowed myself to watch a show where a kid was injured for emotional effect, I almost smashed the box. The non-stop pitch for sugar/plastic/ fat/ toys/  toys/toys/toys drove me bananas. And I spent my time saying things like, “Even I could write better dialogue than this.”

I turned the bloody thing off. I didn’t have time. I didn’t have the energy. I most definitely did not have the patience.

More than a decade later, it has snuck back in. I watch it now and again. My kids like the cartoons. Bill Nye the Science Guy is entertaining. Sometimes there’s reasonably good theater. And my husband is a die-hard baseball fan. But mostly, it stays off. I like it that way.

The more I live and learn, the less TV makes sense. Life ruins TV. Who would’ve thunk?


A.C.E. Bauer has been telling and writing stories since childhood. She took a short break to write dreadful poetry in college, and then a longer one while she worked as an attorney, writing legal briefs and telling stories about her clients. She has returned to fiction, and now writes children's books and short stories for all ages. She was a finalist for the Tassy Walden Award: New Voices in Children's Literature in both 2001 and 2002.

One of her stories has appeared in Ladybug magazine, and a middle-grade, magical-realism novel is scheduled for publication in autumn 2007. Born and raised in Montreal, she spends most of the year in New England with her family, and much of the summer on a lake in Quebec.

In the Rabbit Hole began in December 2005
A love story
Breathing water and pine
"It's just a children's book"
Reconciling to the Impossible
Write to A.C.E. Bauer at
acebauer at gmail dot com

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"How to ruin TV" copyright © May 2006 by A.C.E. Bauer.
This essay appears here with thanks to A.C.E. Bauer, whose payment was less than a brass razoo.
This is part of a series of invited pieces by people I find deliciously inspiring, always a hoot, and who write like a bletted medlar tastes. A.T.
The Virtuous Medlar Circle © 2004 - 2006