Birds, favorite TV shows, make way for Fall

A hawk launches on dinnerThe early morning thermometer registers 69F. The days have been in the high 80s to mid-90s, amazingly hot for September. The night approaches when we will dream of days as warm as we now wish them cool, when the whole-house fan sucks cool air in the bedroom window and pushes the late afternoon swelter out the roof vent.

A reader invited me to try to photograph a pair of owls that had become regular visitors to his backyard. As luck would have it, other things took control of my evenings. I have not recently even heard owls in the vicinity. Likely they have departed for other climes, as have many other birds that have colored the view from my studio at the edge of the woods.

Another sign of autumn is the paucity of watchable fare on television. It is the dead zone in the television calendar when the shows that were worth recording during summer have ended, some promising to come back next summer, and the Fall shows we have deemed worth watching have not yet started.

Young folks may have difficulty believing, but there was a time when TV was delivered in 13-week “seasons;” and summers were for reruns that kept your interest up until the new season commenced. Occasionally, a season would end with a cliff-hanger, the very first of which was, “Who shot J.R.” Larry Hagman played J.R. Ewing in the long running series, “Dallas.” A dastardly oil tycoon if ever one was created, Hagman almost singlehandedly kept the show going 13 years with virtually universal – characters and viewers – love of hating J.R. Ewing.

Then came the final scene of the final episode of the show’s third season. A hand appeared from a doorway, holding a pistol. Two shots rang out – and the scene went to black with viewers stuck waiting until September to learn whether J.R had been killed and who did it. Speculation sold a pile of TV Guides and supermarket rags, a situation made worse when an actor strike pushed the show’s restart to November.

If “Dallas” were running in 2015, we could forget that we even cared while we waited nine months to a year for the next season to begin. This week, a show enjoyed in my home, “The Last Ship,” ended its season the other night with the promise it will be back next summer. Next summer? This summer isn’t over yet!

The good news is we have set our To Be Recorded list to capture only first-run shows. When an offering we like returns, it will appear on “the list.” We have about 70 shows set to record. Some of them will be back, but when I look at the list I can’t remember which ones.

One of our favorites, “Scorpion,” is being advertised, featuring a team of young heroes using modern technology to avert major weekly catastrophe, barely minutes before the time slot expires.

We have come a long way in couch potato entertainment. I was 11 when my family got our first, black and white, television. My son and daughter were considered “deprived” in some quarters because they did not have a VCR, but by then we did have cable. My son’s kids have smartphones, and no comprehension of having only three stations – two of them nearly invisible through the “snow” that resulted from the weak signal snagged by an antenna bolted to the roof.

I wonder what “televised” entertainment awaits my grandkids’ offspring, circa Fall 2030. I’d bet on a chip embedded in their necks, images imported directly from the Internet, volume and channels controlled by thought.

Are there any takers out there?

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