COMMENTS: New Look, Old Flaws

NBC advertised the first day of its transmission in HDTV. Anchor Brian Williams joked about how much more scrutiny his facial pores will now get: "We are in the detail business, after all, and now you can see every last detail." At the same time NBC tweaked its graphics to be whiter and squarer, with upper-and-lower capitals replaced by uniform height. Presumably the less vertical, more horizontal look comports with the wider-screen format HDTV affords.

The first day of this new so-called detailed look was accompanied by a lazy lifestyle feature by CNBC's Carl Quintanilla and a sloppy q-&-a with in-house physician Nancy Snyderman that belied that claim. Snyderman referred to research that concludes that the more time toddlers spend in pre-school daycare the better their language becomes and the worse their attitude. I suppose that means they develop a smart mouth. Snyderman's report was called In Depth but was far from that. Since Snyderman offered no specifics of the study or detailed definition of its terms beyond "aggression, argumentative behavior, disruption" who knows?

And Quintanilla kicked off NBC's series The State of our Unions with that always irritating technique of illustrating current social trends with clips from TV sitcoms. More irritating than usual, the sitcoms Quintanilla referenced--Roseanne and I Love Lucy--had nothing to do with any current phenomenon. He reported that contemporary wives are more likely than the Roseanne Barrs and Lucille Balls of previous generations to "run two sets of books"--to earn their own income, have their own checking accounts and decide on their own spending. How much more likely than previous generations? How much more likely than their husbands? Who knows?


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