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Thread: When did PBS become Pointless Brainless....

  1. #1
    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    When did PBS become Pointless Brainless....

    When I set up XBMC on my Raspberry Pi I found a PBS plugin that lets me watch a lot of older shows, plus current stuff.

    PBS has been almost hesitant to air Mr Rogers, with only a small handful of stations still doing so. His show is in this plugin, though there aren't very many full episodes- it's mostly clips. The rest of the PBS Kids line up is 98% cartoons, and most of those cartoons have heavy merchandising. The only new cartoon I can forgive is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, partly because I suspect PBS wouldn't budget for puppets and a set. I'd guess no merchandising because it's the Fred Rogers estate making it.

    When I was a kid, PBS aired stuff like this, which was educational.



    Now PBS is no different from the Hub- a network dressing its shows up as edutainment, but it's really just toy commercials. Matter of fact, Fred Rogers himself opposed the very thing PBS is now for the very reason that it wasn't educational. The only reason we even have PBS today is because of him.




    I think the downward spiral started when Barney came out- it wasn't a very educational show and it had merchandise. Sesame Street followed suit, with fury over an Elmo toy and now Elmo is the central character. I suppose Sesame Street still has some semblance of the show it used to be? But it sold its soul long ago. PBS also pushed hard to import the Red Green Show from Canada and it eventually outshadowed other PBS shows. It was so bad that it seemed they focused pledge drives around the show, getting Steve Smith to appear in character at various affiliates, while not focusing on much else.

    I think I stopped watching the station when it became clear their pledge drives were just a money grab. 5 minutes of program, 15 minutes of the studio begging you to call in. I know pledge drives were necessary in the day but now that PBS shows sell toys, I have to wonder how much money they're making off that alone? Does Sesame Street even need public funding anymore with all the toys they're selling?

    I think my point is, PBS used to stand for education, with some cultural exposure(British comedies) and news programs. Now most of the shows for kids are toy commercials with education being secondary.

  2. #2
    Super Powered Mod! markatisu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diosoth View Post
    When I set up XBMC on my Raspberry Pi I found a PBS plugin that lets me watch a lot of older shows, plus current stuff.

    PBS has been almost hesitant to air Mr Rogers, with only a small handful of stations still doing so. His show is in this plugin, though there aren't very many full episodes- it's mostly clips. The rest of the PBS Kids line up is 98% cartoons, and most of those cartoons have heavy merchandising. The only new cartoon I can forgive is Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, partly because I suspect PBS wouldn't budget for puppets and a set. I'd guess no merchandising because it's the Fred Rogers estate making it.

    When I was a kid, PBS aired stuff like this, which was educational.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCcZyW-6-5o

    Now PBS is no different from the Hub- a network dressing its shows up as edutainment, but it's really just toy commercials. Matter of fact, Fred Rogers himself opposed the very thing PBS is now for the very reason that it wasn't educational. The only reason we even have PBS today is because of him.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXEuEUQIP3Q


    I think the downward spiral started when Barney came out- it wasn't a very educational show and it had merchandise. Sesame Street followed suit, with fury over an Elmo toy and now Elmo is the central character. I suppose Sesame Street still has some semblance of the show it used to be? But it sold its soul long ago. PBS also pushed hard to import the Red Green Show from Canada and it eventually outshadowed other PBS shows. It was so bad that it seemed they focused pledge drives around the show, getting Steve Smith to appear in character at various affiliates, while not focusing on much else.

    I think I stopped watching the station when it became clear their pledge drives were just a money grab. 5 minutes of program, 15 minutes of the studio begging you to call in. I know pledge drives were necessary in the day but now that PBS shows sell toys, I have to wonder how much money they're making off that alone? Does Sesame Street even need public funding anymore with all the toys they're selling?

    I think my point is, PBS used to stand for education, with some cultural exposure(British comedies) and news programs. Now most of the shows for kids are toy commercials with education being secondary.
    You do realize PBS has now been broken up into 4-5 stations right? they moved most of the news programming to one, the cooking/education to another, and the kids to a 3rd, and drama's to a 4th (or split time with the cooking/education).

    Frontline is still one of the most informative shows on all of TV, as is the series of documentaries they employ Kenneth Burns to handle (which only exist btw because of PBS Funding).

    I agree with you on the kids programming, but that is a result across the board of the dumbing down of kids in general. But PBS is still a very good set of channels, and if you can't find the quality programming its because you are not looking for it.
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    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    I haven't had satellite TV in my home for years, and I only just got a new TV and have yet to run an antenna wire to it to pick up local broadcasts. My issue is largely with their children's programming just because they are toy commercials. I see entire aisles in stores dedicated to merchandise.

    Sesame Street had a few things out in the 80s but it was Tickle Me Elmo where things started to focus more on toy sales. Barney was merchandise, Teletubbies was merchandise, Dora is merchandise. I'm betting the Fred Rogers company had to pull some major strings to not get DTN merchandised.

    (on a side note, a company did release a full wooden replica of Trolley, though it's rather expensive. If there's one piece of merch I wanted as a kid, it was that. I may consider it closer to Christmas time).

    I honestly lost track of a lot of PBS shows even when I had satellite. It seemed like reruns of old stuff were slowly losing favor, and they pushed Red Green hard, like it was the only thing people were watching. I think they still air it, actually- at least the local affiliate does. That makes me wonder who is at fault though- PBS for pushing merchandise and entertainment, or the viewers for ignoring a lot of what PBS was and demanding the entertainment. Did they have to change to kid's shows with toys and airing Red Green just to get people to pay attention?

    I won't argue on the news programs but that's because most every other news outlet is garbage. I'd bet PBS is the only one not focused on yet another trial or what some celebrity tweeted. I haven't paid much attention to cooking shows because I can get that on Youtube pretty easy and on demand, and a lot of the greats are long gone.

    One advantage of the plugin is that they do have episodes posted of shows that they do not actually air on the stations anymore.

  4. #4
    Mistress of the Whip! Divia's Avatar
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    What's wrong with Mr. Rogers?

    frankly I've found that TLC isn't what it used to be with toddlers and tiaras and Honey boo boo. The History Channel used to have amazing history shows like Biography n' documentaries now they are showing us Pawn Stars and American Pickers. And while I do enjoy those two shows they are of course scripted.
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    Heroic Warrior deltadod's Avatar
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    You mean there used to be actually history on the history channel? Huh Imagine that lol!(The same can be said for cartoons on cartoon network)
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  6. #6
    Merry Christmas! The All American's Avatar
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    I think this PBS debate brings up an over-arching argument that we're seeing now, very few channels stay like they were. These specialized channels are no longer specialized.

    Indeed, little to no history on the History Channel. Or cartoons on the Cartoon Network. And how is WWE SmackDown on SyFy?

    What it boils down to is these channels are trying to stay around, and to do that, you've got to expand your audience. Even PBS is guilty of this.

    You end up with getting watered down television channels, and sadly, filled with many reality shows which are further from reality than "The Snorks" I admit, I find it sad. I'd expect to put on the History Channel and see something documenting history. Not Swamp Smashers or Ice Road Racers, or whatever garbage they have on there.

    As for PBS, the only thing as an audience you can do is write them asking them to put better programming on. And that goes for any channel. And if they receive enough letters, they might make a change.

    And if not, I'd recommend turning off the television, whether it be cable or regular public TV.

    (As for me, I wouldn't have cable if it wasn't for my foolish fandom for my local sports teams. )

  7. #7
    Shivering Isles resident diosoth's Avatar
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    I don't argue that Pawn Stars and its spinoffs are scripted- it's a necessity. The items and customers are real but they have to clear the store out to film. Have you seen the Youtube videos of the place during normal business? It'd be impossible to film. Not to mention numerous legal liabilities of getting permission from everyone in the store to be on TV, as well as the fact that pawn transactions are supposed to be confidential- they have to get everyone who appears on the show to agree to be televised and to waive that confidentiality. This is why they do not allow filming inside the shop and those who do get cameras in have to sneak them in. The Youtube vids posted by the shop tend to show only minimal in-store activity due to those catches.

    Though I do laugh at some of the excuses people throw out- "they have toys and stuff that no pawn shop would be caught dead with! It's totally fake!" was one I saw in a snuck camera video. The show is set up by necessity but they were a real pawn business before, and while the show got them lots of new customers, they're getting paid peanuts by the network and are still reliant on store business. I would assume the spinoffs are also getting flooded by new business and tourists and it'd be impossible to film the show around that.

    Granted, it is a bit annoying with Rick fawning over stuff, he has to have it but he still offers low because he has to sell it. He keeps almost nothing he buys and seeing him go fanboy over stuff he'll sell anyway seems like excess. At least they have had stuff of actual historical value on the show.

    Back when Dave Attel did his Insomniac program on CC, he stopped into the Gold & Silver Pawn shop, that was years before Pawn Stars. He had the same assortment of weird stuff back then.

    I do respect Rick for his interview on Glenn beck a couple weeks back where he called out a guy who assaulted a relative of his and is still not in jail for it despite being sentenced, and he called out the judge who is handling this.

    Now that alien stuff with the "expert" who looks like he stepped out of one of those awful Genre Movie films, yeah, those are total junk.

  8. #8
    I love Mos Eisley Cantina BoShek's Avatar
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    PBS does not get any money from toys from Sesame Street.

    Local PBS stations need to pay for what shows it airs.

    Things have changed a lot for it because federal funding is down to 19 percent; they have to ask for pledges.
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  9. #9
    Cobra Saboteur Firefly's Avatar
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    I've never really watched PBS much outside of when I was really young. My kids like some of the shows on there like Super Why, which I think are fairly educational shows.

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