08/01/2008 09:54 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

TV Dilemma: When the Set Dies, What's a Maven to Do?

Without a working television, a TV Maven is a fisherman without a net. When my 13-year-old Sony Trinitron blinked twice and died two weeks ago, it was as if an old friend had passed away. Sony and I had spent many a television season together, surviving moves to three cities, switches to six different cable companies and every episode of HBO's Tell Me You Love Me (now canceled, so put your pants back on, people).

So what does a TV Maven do without a TV? First she clicks on the tiny, rabbit-eared portable sitting on a shelf in the back room of Chez Maven and watches the old-fashioned way. This is a set without a remote, mind you, so changing channels involves quick-twitch muscle action from chair to set. Funny how long you’ll watch golf or infomercials for mineral powder makeup when not watching them involves a trip across the room. One morning all four hours of the Today show droned on in the background and I never bothered to click to GMA or the local piece of crud show on the Fox affiliate. Dear Fourth Hour of Today: How’d Kathie Lee Gifford get THAT job? And why does she refer to her co-host, Hoda Kotbe as “Hoda-Woman”?

No surprise, a diet of only broadcast TV blows. Morning to midnight, it’s mostly crap layered between even worse crap. Local newscasts obsess about the dangers of peppers from Mexico and give empty updates on weather even when there's no weather happening. Where I am that means hearing 900 times a day that it’s hot and sunny. Sunny and hot. “Let’s get a check of the weather with Stan. Boy, it’s hot out there, Stan!” Stan predicts continued hot with intervals of sun. It’s summer in Texas. It’s going to be 105 for the next month. Today the only shade I got was when a pigeon flew over. Before it landed, it was cooked to original crispy.

Suffering from Olbermann/Stewart/Cooper withdrawal, missing the season returns of Project Runway and Mad Men (I KNOW!), I tried to do prime time with the broadcasters. Every night it’s another dreary Dateline saga on NBC about a missing woman and the crazy husband who killed her. Every one of these real-life murder tales gets to the phrase “grisly discovery.” And can Keith Morrison or Hoda Kotbe talk…any…slower? Hoda Kotbe: the new Stone Phillips.

The talent shows? All that break-dancing and dog training and singing of patriotic ballads? Couldn’t change the channels fast enough. America's Got Talent? Not so much.

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