I'm usually at the gym on weekdays between 4:15 and 5:15. At that time of day, the three TVs set up in front of the treadmills, bikes, and "sweat machines" are usually set to a) ESPN (or a local ball game), b) Oprah or Deal or No Deal and c) Judge Judy or The People's Court. Needless to say, I spend a lot more time reading on the machines than I do viewing.
From my intermittent viewing, however, I have gleaned the following:
1) Sports commentators use a lot of words to say very little, and make minor events seem like they are monumental to whichever sport or team is involved.
2) Most players, regardless of their sport, have very little to say when interviewed.
3) Oprah seems to be in love with Skype and the use of it to interview people.
4) Contestants on Deal or No Deal don't understand when the odds are against them. An amazing number seem to think that squatting down on the stage will somehow make the number in the briefcase lower.
5) The judge on People's Court is more attractive than Judge Judy. Both judges have no qualms in calling the people who appear in their courtrooms idiots.
6) Not surprisingly, most of those people are idiots. Many of the cases involve someone who "loaned" money to a former boyfriend/ girlfriend/ significant other and, after breaking up, expect to get it back. The rest seem to involve people who hire a friend of a friend to do some job (replace the roof, fix the truck, shampoo the pooch) that the person is incapable of doing; when the job ends up a disaster, they call in a professional to clean up the mess and then want to sue the guy they first hired. You would think that, after all the years these shows have been around, these people would have figured out that they shouldn't do these things. Unless, of course, their goal is to be on the program!
At 5:00, ESPN has a show in which four sportswriters from different newspapers argue about sports news of the day, all the while winning and losing points awarded by the moderator. I have yet to understand how these points are awarded.
The other two channels, regardless of which shows preceded them, now have their first evening news program. Curiously, all four "5:00" news programs begin at 4:59. One occasionally starts at 4:58. From these, I have determined the following:
1) There is always a building on fire somewhere in New York City at 5:00. Not surprisingly, the NY Fire Department is always there.
2) The NYPD is invariably searching for someone who robbed a bank / gas station / bodega (sometimes all three) that afternoon. Based on the police sketches, I can state for a fact that all robbers wear wool hats, regardless of the season. They also all look remarkably alike, making me wonder if the city has been victim to a decades-long one-man crime spree.
3) If it is snowing (or even just raining heavily), each station has a reporter who stands outside in it to tell us what we know from looking out the window.
4) The in-studio weather person gives forecasts in small portions: "It was 59 degrees at 2:00 this afternoon, but that will change this evening. I'll be back later in the program to tell you about it." Hello -- it's not a forecast if you tell me what it was three hours ago!
5) Important events often occur outside the New York metro area. However, there are apparently rules about when we can hear about them. They are only hinted at by reporters who tell us they will be back on the 6:00 news shows (which, no doubt, begin at 5:59) to fill us in.
One thing I've noticed is that the stations rarely lead with the same story. If the fire is covered first on one channel, it's second or third on the other. I wonder, if you switched among the four channels in the right order, could you see the same fire covered four times? By the same token, you could completely miss the story.
Luckily (or, perhaps, unfortunately) for the rest of the people in the gym, they don't give me the remote, so we'll never find out.