When I was in the military, my GI pants had buttons. I didn’t like it. I was used to zippers. Later, after snagging myself in those little metal teeth on a pair of civies, I was convinced buttons were better. Besides, a broken zipper is impossible to fix, while a button requires simple sewing. But try to find buttoning pants at Exwork! However, that’s not the kind of buttons I’m now fixated on.
I started watching Young Sheldon, and I am very impressed. It is not filmed in front of a live audience and does not have a laugh track, and I love that. But I quickly noticed what is to be an inordinate number of commercials. They just kept coming! I decided to record the next episode, while I was watching something else, so I could time it. Recording done, I touched the screen of my phone to bring up the stopwatch and when the commercials began I pushed start, and then stop and fast-forward when the show was on, and start again for the commercial, all the way to the end. It was the opposite of what I usually do, fast-forwarding through commercials to watch the show. Fast-forwarded through the show to watch the commercials is excruciating.
Young Sheldon, first year 2017, has 10 minutes and 36 seconds of commercials, which means there are only 19 minutes and 24 seconds of the show. Good grief! In a few more years a thirty-minute show will have fifteen minutes of commercials, wait and see. (Its namesake parent show isn’t any better: Big Bang, 2007, has 10 min. and 16 sec.).
Wondering how many commercials there were in older shows, I started recording whatever I could find, and sure enough, the sponsor spots have increased over the years. I timed many, but I will only list a half-hour show per decade, with some 80s exceptions:
How I Met Your Mother, 2005: 9 min 4 sec.
That 70’s Show, 1998: 8 min 31 sec.
Coach, 1989: 8 min 22sec.
(I add here The Golden Girls, 1985, as an anomaly, because the commercials last 10 min 4sec, but I can’t tell if they’ve sliced minutes from the show for more ads or if that’s how it really was back then. I didn’t watch it.)
Night Court, 1984: 7 min 15 sec.
Mash, 1972: 6 min 53 sec.
Gomer Pyle, 1964: 6 min 53 sec.
I love Lucy, 1951: 6 min 50 sec.
(I wanted to time The Lone Ranger, which was first broadcast on television in 1949, but I couldn’t find it.)
Historically the nearly seven-minute length of commercials began long ago from radio. Thanks a lot, guys. I understand the necessity for ads; how would I know what’s for sale without them? But I think there should never be more than three minutes of commercials per thirty. Oh, they would have to be good advertisements for sure, well thought out and cleverly performed, without hyperbole or contention. But nearly eleven minutes of advertisements for a half-hour show is taxing my tolerance, especially when they are full of exaggeration and insistence.
The only hour-long shows I timed are from Star Trek:
ST:TOS, 1966: 13 min 58 sec.
ST:NG, 1987: 14 min 34 sec.
ST:DS9, 1993: 14 min 46 sec.
ST:VOY, 1995: 16 min 10 sec.
ST:ENT, 2001: 17 min 24 sec.
(I haven’t yet started watching ST:DIS, 2017.)
Thus my favorite button is ‘record,’ which shares the number one spot with the Fast-Forward button. I record everything so I can view the show only. Hey, did Mozart or any of those geniuses have commercials on stage during their operas? Does a high school play promote products in between acts? No. Or maybe they should, but only one minute for every ten!
My next favorite button is ‘mute.’ I use that most often when I’m watching the news, thumbing it with impatience when more than one person starts talking and arguing. I also use it during all other shows I’m watching live, muting during commercials. Fortunately, I can rewind if I forget to unmute after the commercials. Often I use the mute button when watching Cricket. You don’t really have to hear a Cricket game. The same is no doubt true for any sport. All you need is the on-screen scoreboard, or what I call the Infoboard. Everything else is just noise.
And of course, there’s the delete button, but that was in a previous story.