Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Cable Guy

The Cable Guy
seen on TV @ Comedy Central

My parents first got cable television when I was in high school. Of course, it was a big deal at the time, but I don't recall ever marveling at this relatively new advance in home entertainment technology. I knew about MTV, of course, and I was eager to watch plenty of that, as well as the less hip (but still watchable) VH1. Plus, I could see more Mets games.

My sister had already moved out by this time, so I didn't have to worry about sharing the cable with her, and my parents, if I recall correctly, didn't make as much use of cable as they would in later years (though I could be misremembering). My father definitely watched more sports, at least.

I don't think I watched that much more television growing up than others of my generation. Oddly enough, even with cable, most of the shows I watched were still on free TV, but then cable networks like HBO didn't start excelling in original programming yet. Like I said, for me, cable mostly meant videos and sports...

...especially the latter. One could still see Mets and Y-nk--s games on local networks as well as cable back then, but that number was dwindling, so I was grateful to see the Mets more often, as well as basketball and hockey and the occasional boxing match. Cable definitely fed my sports jones growing up, and even sparked interest in other sports, like tennis. (It always amused me whenever my father would mute the sound when watching a baseball game; he'd say that the announcers weren't saying anything new to him. My mother didn't seem to care for them, either. I remember she hated ESPN's Chris Berman in particular.)

These days, I don't watch as much TV as I used to, but I've definitely watched more ever since I got into TCM (thank you, classic movie bloggers). I have basic cable, not the pay channels; no HBO for me. Still, most of the time, I've found TCM to be enough. Still, that doesn't stop me from checking out other channels, obviously. I saw The Cable Guy on Comedy Central, which I don't watch much of apart from the intermittent episode of The Daily Show.

I first saw The Cable Guy on video. I've always liked it, and it's a bit of a shame it didn't do better at the box office than it did. Audiences at the time weren't ready yet to see Jim Carrey as a slightly more nuanced character than Ace Ventura, I guess. It was directed by Ben Stiller, who, like Carrey, came to film from television, and while it's not on the level of something as vivid and prophetic as Carrey's later film The Truman Show, I think both movies would make for an excellent twin bill, as they both examine the power of television culture from both the audience and the entertainer's sides - the watcher and the watched. (One could even throw in Man on the Moon as well; a real-life TV star who subverted his audience's viewing experience.)


  1. It seems like a hundred years ago that my husband and I saw "The Cable Guy" with a preview audience. We seemed to be the only ones laughing. Ah well, that's life!

  2. Preview audiences are notoriously fickle.


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