Discovery

While sitting with my parents in Pearson Airport at 1 AM last night, my mom and their friend (whose husband works in Barbados, and whom they were going to stay with) Leanne most of the way through a box of wine they brought for their ‘picnic’ in the airport, I was made aware of an interesting tidbit. I think it explains, at least karmically, my (some would say) almost unhealthy relationship with television.

My parents were married on Friday, November 21, 1980.

Why is this important, you may be asking yourself? What in the hell does it have to do with you and TV? Are you just flailing for some form of rationalization for your obsession? Isn’t that an addict’s cop out — it’s not your fault?

Shut up. Let me finish my story.

Friday, November 21, 1980 was the airdate of the third season of Dallas, and it was the episode that resolved a certain little cliffhanger: Who shot J.R.

At that point in entertainment history, the highest rated episode of any television show ever aired in the world. The record stood until about three years later, when the finale of M*A*S*H usurped it (though Dallas still holds the worldwide all-time record, M*A*S*H only beat it domestically).

Apparently people were ducking out of the reception occasionally to pop into the hotel bar and find out who popped the big guy (Kristin, of course). Yeah, ok, it wasn’t my birthday or anything, but the marriage that eventually produced me was spiritually linked to the biggest TV event in history. The raw number, 41.47 million, may not be amazingly impressive today (viewing audiences in general having grown so much — American friggin’ Idol routinely does around 35 million a week), it still represented 75% of every person watching television in North America, and apparently Turkish parliament suspended itself to let members see the mystery solved. I also feel alright with M*A*S*H being the thing to replace it, as one of my earliest entertainment memories is watching a rerun of that very finale (the chopper scene with the rocks at the end in particular standing out) in a hotel room on some vacation with my parents. That more than anything should be indicative of where my lot in life is headed: I don’t remember what vacation, when, or where we went, but I remember watching M*A*S*H in the hotel.

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