Is This The Most Horrible Thing Ever Done By American Television?

Probably not.  I'm sure the networks have confronted rape victims in ambush interviews, shown footage of weathermen being decapitated by tornado-propelled flying glass, and branded innocent men as terrorist murderers.

But this is … exceptional:

On May 11, 1955, before an audience of millions of viewers, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing was shocked to receive a handshake from the co-pilot who flew the mission to destroy his city. This Is Your Life, the show that engineered this stunt, was an enormously popular “testimonial” program, but one that was frequently criticized for its tendency to go overboard in exploiting the emotional responses of its usually unwitting subjects. The Hiroshima episode is so far off the charts in this regard that—even today—it is unsettling to watch the one clip that is available online. …

In a maneuver typical of the middle America-catering show, Edwards took special care to point out to his millions of viewers the dual invocation of the almighty by the bomber and victim:

“And so, Reverend Tanimoto, you on the ground, and you on your military mission, Captain Lewis, in the air, both appeal to a power greater than your own. Almost at the same moment you both utter the same words: My God. Thank you, Robert Lewis, now personnel manager at Henry Heide Incorporated in New York City.”

Read on if you dare.


Summertime, and the Basic Cable Shows Are Easy

So it's rerun season on the networks. Perhaps you don't care. Perhaps you're one of those people who, whenever you hear people talking about a television show, like to say "I don't even own a television," and then stand smugly, waiting for adulation. Or perhaps you own one, but only watch highest culture, like something on Masterpiece Theatre not featuring Colin Firth. If so, this post will bore and/or frustrate you.

When the networks are in reruns, and the only new content involves reality shows that make me dangerously stabby, or Dateline-NBC style shows that drag a five-minute murder case into a hour-long repetitive nightmare, there used to be no alternatives. But recently basic cable channels like USA, TNT, FX, and etc. have stepped up with some pretty decent original programming. Here are a few that I have been watching, idly or otherwise.

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