Late Night Torture

By Jade Walker


There is a television conspiracy. The goal? To torture night owls.

Anyone who's ever suffered through a bout of insomnia, worked the night shift or stayed up late waiting for the NyQuil to kick in knows what I'm talking about. There is absolutely nothing good on TV after the midnight hour.

If you're feeling particularly masochistic, you can just grab the remote control and start the pain. What will you find?

* Anne Murray selling a 26-song CD collection in a commercial (complete with 800 number) that runs three times an hour on CNN.

* Icky nature programs. During the day, viewers are treated to shows on seals, bears and lions. Cuddly animals. Magnificent creatures. Wait 12 hours and all you'll see are the animals of nightmares: bugs and snakes, sharks and spiders.

* Thirty minute Tae Bo infomercials, showing people who are already buff and in shape spouting lines about how "easy" it is to learn this new fitness craze.

* Talk show reruns (i.e. Jenny Jones/Jerry Springer). Enough said.

* Offers to attend some local vocational school. You too can learn how to repair computers that are still using BASIC.

* "C Movies." Do you know what "C Movies" are? "A Movies" are blockbusters and popular titles (Star Wars, The Matrix). "B Movies" are those films that didn't quite make the grade, and went straight to cable or video (In Thin Air, The 70s). "C Movies" are the bottom-of-the-barrel waste of celluloid flicks starring actors who actually make better paychecks as waiters.

* Paid programming. Think Ross Perot infomercials meet Ginsu knives, with a dash of "pyramid scheme" thrown in for flavor.

* Second-rate news programs. I've actually seen network news anchors pull out the morning newspapers and hold them up to the camera to show off interesting articles.

* Static/Rainbows. Worst of all, some TV channels actually go off the air in the middle of the night. We have people dreaming up 500+ cable stations, yet you can't even find 24-hour programming on the stations that already exist.

I'm convinced there's a conspiracy at work. Television executives don't go to college. Instead, they're trained by the descendants of the Marquis de Sade. Each lesson teaches the most effective methods of torment, and the unsuspecting night-time television viewer is used as the guinea pig.

Have you noticed how people seem to be angrier lately? I think it's because they've been the victims of late night TV.

The only way to end this campaign of terror is to demand quality programs after prime time. I want my "Must See TV." I want to watch first-run movies, with great writing and intriguing character interaction. I want to see celebrity interviews, comedy skits and compelling dramas.

I'd even be interested in watching the Olympics as it happens, rather than 18 hours later. The conspiracy continues.