One of these days, the Powers That Be will get it right. (The powers being those people who are screwing up our TV viewing; those same folks who we can't reach because they hide behind the "Contact Us" feature some of them like to tantalize us with because they never answer.)
But it's time to take them to task – again.
Television was invented in the 1920s, and here we are a hundred years later, still waiting for numerous kinks to be ironed out.
For example, mechanically and electronically, high-definition is great if you have the proper antenna or subscribe to a service, but without paying monthly for having one of the satellite-provided suppliers of Dish or Direct TV, and even when you're using a high-definition antenna, reception can be a problem, since even a little rain can mess things up occasionally.
However, while the overall quality is pretty good, we can't seem to maintain a high level within the programs offered.
How many times have we come across a program that included a so-called narrator who sounds like a 12-year-old who failed grade school Grammar or Elocution? One has to wonder how he got the job. (Is he the Program Director's cousin?) No matter where he came from, he has a long way to go and much to learn before he can claim to be a professional narrator. Meanwhile, he's not a narrator, he's just another reader – and not a very good one at that.
A "pro" doesn't mispronounce everyday or unfamiliar words because when he comes across one, he looks it up in his dictionary because he's a "pro" whose job is to inform the viewer, and that demands that he get it right the first time. A common error is the mispronunciation of the word "cache" which should sound like the word "cash." The look-alike word "cachet" is not the same thing at all, and is pronounced "cash-ay," and when the amateur reader mispronounces either one – or any other word - he sounds pretty stupid. Some non-favorites include affluent, influence, and confluent, all mispronounced by these amateurs, and while it can mislead the viewer, it just makes the reader look uneducated or inexperienced; sometimes both.
A professional narrator also knows how to control his voice so that words and sentences don't get inaudible as the sentence ends – a small thing, but we're ready to switch to another program. After all, if we can't hear what he's trying to say, we won't have any idea of what he's talking about, and we may as well have stayed home – which is what that reader should have done.
Next in our list of audio correctables is the background music, which should be kept where it belongs - in the background. Apparently, the audio engineers feel that (a) all programs should have background music whether they need it or not, and (b) the music must be as loud as or louder than the spoken word! Both are wrong, because (a) not every program needs music playing in the background, and (b) why make the spoken word difficult to understand?
Choice of music seems to be "let's use the first thing we come across," and then they "set it and forget it." Result? Uneven volume as the music varies, drowning out some of the dialog – and it always seems to come at an important time, obscuring necessary information just because they didn't take a few minutes to listen to what they've done. Worse, there is almost no way we as the audience can inform those responsible since they hide behind an online "Contact Us" access which gets very complicated very soon, and we just give up and try another channel.
Who's at fault?
Start with the producer. He's the one who gave the final okay to these third-rate fumblers and mumblers. From start to finish, he has the final word over everything that makes up a watchable and listenable program.
Next in the chain of responsibility is the director, who'd better pay close attention to everything that's going on, since he has the final chance to rectify any errors that everyone else missed – and it's in his own interests to get it right, since his name is right there, leading the list in big bold letters at the top of the program credits shown at the end.
All we viewers can do is hope that maybe one day they'll get it right, which obviously is a big maybe.
We've only scratched the surface, but that's enough for now.
Stay tuned. We'll get to some other problems later, when I've relocated my sense of humor.
—Newton columnist Mike Morton writes weekly for the Kansan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org