I AM PART OF the generation that grew up watching television. But by the time I went to college TV wasn’t interesting or diverting; in fact, for the most part its content was irrelevant. It was impossible to be entertained by the sitcom format of “My Three Sons” after watching live footage of the war in Vietnam on the evening news. It was difficult to reconcile soft-focus, prepackaged television ideology with hard-core reality. TV made.sense when it focused on the issues of the time—in the streets of Chicago in the summer of ’68 or on the moon in ’69. Those were broadcast messages worth staying tuned for. TV fiction—the sitcoms, the cop shows, the game shows, etc.—have exactly the opposite effect. Most of these programs are produced according to such bland and standardized formulas that they are as predictable and as dull as McDonald’s hamburgers and Holiday Inns—“The best surprise is no

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