Distorted TV history lesson

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 14, 2001

The times and places are super-exotic.

The scene is full of male people in very high places, enjoying all the pleasures of the fleshwine, women, song, champagne etceterawhile they grind those of serfdom under heel.

It depicts the servant-types subserviently bowing and scraping, Uriah Heep-like, before their highly-adorned lords and masters.

Email newsletter signup

All the pomp and circumstance in the world as it existed in the 18th century on display.

You are just getting into the mood of the program, getting a mad on against the filthy rich, feeling sympathy for the poor and downtrodden, when Prestothe scene, without transition, changes.

Suddenly you are whizzing down a four-lane super-slab at 90 mph in one of the sleekest, raciest-looking sports cars you've ever seen.

Just that quick, you have sped through a 200-year timespan, from the late 1700's to the early 2000's.

Some Jazbo gets on the air and does his dangest to sell you the best automotive deal ever devised.

The scene fades, after a few lesser commercials, and quick-time you're back to the 1700's again.

The swanky party you have been watching has declined into a not-so-exotic exhibition of debauchery and godlessness hard to imagine. It looks like a breeding place for hangovers, the types you could build monuments to.

Then, again without notice or explanation you are transported to the courtyards, where many of the peasantry are lined up against a wall and shot dead by a firing squad.

A grotesque scene indeed, one that ends up with several wagon loads of bodies being hauled off to a potter's field somewhere, presumably.

The program sponsors again feel the urge to sell something else, so you are summarily swept forward another pair of centuries to hear and see all the wonders of the modern-day miracle, the computer.

Following the computer sales pitch you are treated to a sprinkling of ads about several more irresistible, new-fangled gadgets.

Then sans preamble, you are back to the earlier period in history.

It seems, as time wears on, that these advertising interruptions come at more frequent intervals.

And this is just the beginning of the first three-hour segment of a three-part mini-series, one that is designed to enlighten one on matters historical and vital to the learning processes.

Deliver me, deliver my friends and, yes, deliver even my relatives from such torture.

Needless to say, the first of the three episodes was likewise the last of them at this house.

May the words "mini-series" be stricken from the minds and memories of all show-biz folks.

We believe in enlightening information-seekers when they call, but resist forcefully any urge we may feel to "over-sell" or to gratuitously furnish unsought information.