TV Commercial Overload

Herbie J Pilato
Dec 2 · 4 min read

Frequent Manic Television Ads Destroy Everybody’s Fun

On November 10, 2019, the Los Angeles Times published an article by Robert Lloyd, titled, “A Forceful Defense of Broadcast TV in the Age of Premium Cable and Streaming.”

As usual, Mr. Lloyd delivered superior prose, this time expressing his delight with the on-set of new television programming.

Seven days later, and after reading “A Forceful Defense,” Murray Levy of Pacific Palisades, California responded with this note published in the “Feedback” section of the Times:

“As I read Robert Lloyd’s article, I could only think that he must be able to view the programs he wrote about without commercials.

“Many programs produced by the [broadcast] networks are well done and worth watching. However, the barrage of inane commercials embedded in these programs destroys any pleasure a viewer may get from them.

“I, for one, will wait until the programs reviewed by Mr. Lloyd are available on streaming services where they can be enjoyed and appreciated.”

Sadly, I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Levy.

Image of original letter from Murray Levy to the Los Angeles Times (11–17–19)

The constant onslaught of TV commercials every few minutes certainly lessons my viewing pleasure of whatever. In other words, it’s out of control.

I understand that money needs to be made through the power of TV advertising dollars. But truly, at what price for the viewers?

Isn’t it bad enough that consumers are purchasing products that are frequently over-priced, and many times not worth a dime?

Viewers now also have to sacrifice their TV watching enjoyment by being frequently interrupted by obnoxious commercials, which truth be told, are many times produced and presented with creative genius.

But again…at what price?

I remember back in the day, the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s, and the early part of the 1990s, when commercials were just as clever, but not nearly as invasive.

There was the Campbell Soup commercial with the Snowman in came in from the wintery cold only to be warmed by a cup of Chicken Noodle, which charmingly melts him into a little boy being welcomed in from the cold by his Mom.

There was the Alka Seltzer commercial that featured the man at his bedside and nightstand, ill as a dog, and spouting, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”

Milt Moss for Alka-Seltzer in 1972

And those are just two prime examples of commercials that were filled with nothing but charm.

But where is the charm today?

Maybe, maybe there is some in the new TV shows of recent (I haven’t seen any thought). But there certainly isn’t anything charming about trying to watch any potentially worthy TV show, new or classic, and then being interrupted countless times in the process.

We see TV commercials today, darting across our viewing screens with near maniacal passing, and think, “Yeah…that was cute. But what were we just watching again? I forgot.”

Oh, well, so then we turn the channel — and find another TV show or movie on TV, and get caught up in the story, and then lost, subsequently again.

It’s a vicious circle on a flat-screen.

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