Panicked letters have been flooding in about the Feb. 17 (maybe) Digital TV Transition—not to The Only TV Column That Matters™, of course, but I’m always here to help. The following is a compendium (means summary) of concerns compiled into convenient FAQ (means Frequently Asked Questions, or Frost Ain’t Qualified) form. Prepare to have your Fears All Quelled (another FAQ).n
Why is this change happening?
nBecause your government hates you. Also, because analog frequencies need to be freed up for “public safety communications,” so they say. According to some highly reliable talk-radio shows heard around 3 a.m., however, the government will actually use the extra analog spectrum capacity to collect information on every subversive move you make—like listening to talk radio at 3 a.m. Also, it’s because digital TV affords viewers a far sharper picture of tampon commercials during The Tyra Banks Show, if not the barely concealed horn nubs on Tyra’s giant forehead.
Will my older TV set still work?
nYes … as a shelf for your Letters to the Editor newspaper clippings and ribbon-candy dishes. If you’re a cable or satellite subscriber, you’ll still receive the fine premium programming like Rock of Love Bus and Huckabee you’re used to, as well as a whole lot of promised digital “extra channels” which either don’t really exist or are just around-the-clock feeds of local news reporters hiking up pantyhose and adjusting clip-on ties during station breaks. You could also buy a new TV, or a digital converter to work with your older set and antenna. But since you haven’t already after years of prodding, it’s safe to assume you never will and we all look forward to your Letters to the Editor.
Will the Digital Television Transition open up a vast new world of quality programming and unlimited viewing choices?
nHa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! …. Hooo, whew … Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! You mean, besides the 100-plus hours of Law & Order per week across several different channels (not even including HD and on-demand) cable already offers? Going all-digital will allow stations to “multicast” up to six separate programming streams instead of just one in space-hogging analog. So you know how well your local station fills non-network space on one channel? Imagine that genius times six—Judge shows, infomercials and According to Jim reruns to pristine, digital eternity! So, no.
Didn’t that new president fella push the digital switchover from Feb. 17 to sometime in June, when there’s nothing good on anyway?
nThe President of Change did indeed ask that TV stay the same for a few more months, even though the digital switchover has been coming for 10 years and the government has already spent millions of dollars in Public Service Announcing—it isn’t cheap to get the cast of NCIS together for a 30-second spot to say “They’re gonna turn off your talkie-box, Gladys! Convert to digital or you’ll never see Mark Harmon again.” In select cities, CBS even sent that goth girl door-to-door with conversion boxes and nipple clamps; no expense has been spared.
But, the proposed delay wouldn’t be mandatory, meaning some local stations will switch on Feb. 17, some will hold out until June 12, some will do it randomly in-between, and some will just send neighborhood improv troupes to your house to act out your favorite shows live because it’ll be less of a bureaucratic clusterfuck to coordinate.n
n n nMore New DVD Releases (Feb. 10)
n n n Against the Darkn
n Martial-arts master Tao (Steven Segal!) leads a vigilante special-ops squad (!!) on a suicide mission (!!!) against post-Apocalyptic vampires (!!!!). No, he’s not too obese and sweaty to fight vamps—didn’t you see Kung Fu Panda? (Sony.com)
n n n Blindnessn
n In Ultra-Depressing Julianne Moore Movie No. 87, a mass blindness epidemic sends a city into lawless chaos in a gritty allegory of man’s inhumanity to man, etc. Then come the vampires and Steven Segal and the whole thing just falls apart. (Miramax.com)
n n n My Name Is Brucen
n Bruce Campbell stars as Bruce Campbell in the Bruce Campbell-directed My Name Is Bruce, about a drunken douchebag actor (Bruce Campbell) who saves his biggest fan’s hometown from a demon (not Bruce Campbell). (MyNameIsBruce.net)
n n n Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job: Season 2n
n Ten more episodes of psychotic nonsense stuffed with guest stars—including Jeff Goldblum peddling “WaitMate,” a new miracle drug that helps you sleep through at least 10 episodes of Tim & Eric. Awaiting your hate mail now. (AdultSwim.com)
n n n n W.n
n The not-true-but-still-quite-accurate story of former president George W. Bush’s inexplicable rise to power, aided by shady characters, and driven by daddy issues into war and recession. Maybe now you can watch it as a comedy. (Lionsgate.com)
nDorothy Mills, Friday the 13th: Season 2, The Guitar, The Lodger, Melrose Place: Season 5, Miracle at St. Anna, Nights In Rodanthe, Red Victoria, Redemption, Simon & Simon: Season 2, Soul Men, Tales From the Darkside: Season 1
Listen to Bill Mondays at 8 a.m. on X96’s Radio From Hell. Bruce Campbell Watch at BillFrost.tv.