With equal measures of misty-eyed nostalgia, socioeconomic savvy and common-sense insight, USA Today writer Robert Bianco offers some provocative suggestions for improving the future of television by borrowing a few pages from the medium's past. He's especially spot-on while discussing the undervalued worth of variety shows:
"There were obviously downsides to the old days of three networks per TV and one TV per household, but the combination did force us all to learn something about each other's tastes. Ed Sullivan offered The Beatles for the kids, Judy Garland for their parents and opera for their grandparents. To get to one, you had to sit through the other. It broadened the younger generation's musical tastes, and it gave the older generation some clue as to what their kids were listening to up in their rooms.
"Both would still be very good ideas."
A little less cultural insularity -- if not a lot less of what academics describe as demassification -- might be good for all of us.