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Sunday, May 24, 2015

IT GETS IN MY WAY

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I don’t know about you but I have a difficult time with today’s TV graphics. Being trained in the graphic arts and having worked in the graphic end of advertising as a designer, art director and creative director, I know the importance of functional design. Many a time a young designer would come to me for approval for design that they were in love with, and too many times I had to send them back to the drawing board because neither the client or the marketplace would appreciate their efforts.

One of the annoying things that get in the way is the need to display a network logo somewhere on the screen, that will sometimes interfere with something to read that is being shown in a documentary. Why do we need to be reminded about which channel we are viewing when the show is already on and the viewer is already involved? It is just plain stupid.

On Fall and Winter Sunday afternoons I watch football. I love to watch the game and enjoy a few hours of strategy and planning either going awry or succeeding. Many years ago you watched and there was no interference from the graphics, today, all you have is not only the obnoxious commercials, but these annoying graphics that take over the game, obliterating what you want to see and popping up at any time with out notice. Baseball too has it going that way, poorly designed graphics to tell you the score, how many men are on base, how many outs and the latest, a pitch count, it seems the whole thing has gotten stupid!

Back in the 50’s, shows like the Honeymooners, I Love Lucy, The Milton Berle Show and others were popular and were so for a long time. There were no graphics getting in the way, yet the show survived because it was good or the best. During a baseball game, in plain old black and white, the posted the batter’s stats, his at bats, hits and runs batted in and that went off immediately as the pitcher threw the ball. Today they throw up meaningless stats that have no bearing on what will happen.

Italians when they cook, have a philosophy, keep it simple and make the ingredients do the work. The same show be with TV graphics, keep them simple and let the show do the work.

Millions of viewers followed the weekly antics of the castaways on Gilligan's Island. But not much is known of their lives following their inevitable rescue.

The Howells, of course, returned to their opulent lives. But never one to pass up a prime business opportunity, Thurston discovered the lush tropical island had no owner and he secured it for himself. Soon he built a fabulous resort there. Jonas Grumby wrote a best-selling book about their adventures and opened a bar at the Howell's resort where his gregariousness and interesting stories made it a success. Roy Hinkley wanted to return to teaching but the Howells bankrolled some of his invention ideas which were remarkable successes for both of them. 

Ginger Grant returned to Hollywood but her absence from the spotlight for so long doomed her to starring in sleazy exploitative B movies. Mary Ann Summers was the surprise, as she agreed to pose nude as a Playboy magazine centerfold. Her life-sized poster, wearing nothing but a bit of her famous coconut cream pie in strategic places, adorned the wall of nearly every teenage boy in America.

The final castaway, Gilligan, reenlisted in the Navy to try and model himself on his friend and mentor the Skipper. Unfortunately his careless nature and lack of common sense led to his being the recipient of frequent additional duties, some designed to teach him better naval skills. One night, to teach him more meticulousness in his duties, he was tasked to count the links in an anchor chain and note whether he had to clean the dried seaweed and any barnacles from each using the provided broom. He listed each one on a sheet and as he started to brush the first one a seahawk landed on it and proceeded to defecate on it. That annoyed him, so he swung the broom at the bird to shoo it away. The bird fluttered for a moment and landed on the chain again, squawking annoyingly at him. He swung at it again, missing, and the bird landed again on the chain. This went on for some time, making Gilligan more and more perturbed at the persistent avian as time went on.

Just as the sun peeked over the horizon the executive officer, who had assigned him the task, came by to check on his progress. Seeing the sad state of the anchor chain he called Gilligan to attention and insisted that he give an accounting for why he had not completed the job.

"I'm sorry sir," Gilligan apologized sheepishly. "I tossed a tern all night and couldn't sweep a link!"




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