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Television: Special events made for some boring nights

Serious-minded academics may disagree with me, perhaps vehemently, but I maintain the purpose of all television, movies, theater, music, dance, and other diversions in to entertain.

If enlightenment, education, and life-changing epiphany follow, it’s a bonus or more, but the main job is to give people a good time, an intelligent, well-staged good time if possible.

Twice last week, special programs that appeared on television were as boring as a seed catalog. One can say that they were each news or ceremonial events and not subject to the same criteria as a regular show, but both of them were put together by a broadcasting company, in each case ABC, that should have known better about TV production and taken time to make sure its viewers had something of substance and quality to watch.

In ABC’s defense, the two programs, this year’s Oscar ceremony and two nights of the NFL draft, are orchestrated by outside bodies that have business to transact and some say in what will happen on the screen. Awards have to handed out, and the names of the drafted have to be read. Some drama and suspense are involved, but they come in irregular doses it’s the job of television producers to fill with something of interest.

The Oscars tallied the lowest ratings in years. Some of that is attributable to a year when people did not have the same access to movies as usual. Even I, a movie buff and film historian, had to keep a sharp lookout for releases and figure out where to find them and how to watch them.

Unfamiliarity with nominated fare or performances is only part of the answer because in most years, the majority of the audience doesn’t know about half the films or recognize more than a handful of actors.

What’s missing lately is a strong

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