Sister Celluloid

Where old movies go to live

I’ve Fallen into Classic TV and I Can’t Get Up

Greater love hath no husband than to tell his wife about a Murder She Wrote marathon. “It’s running all day Saturday and Sunday,” Tim tells me wearily, thereby consigning himself to another room for pretty much two solid days.

But my trip to Cabot Cove comes at a price—and I don’t just mean the alarmingly high murder rate. I mean the depressing ads.

A leathery Pat Boone warns me to be terrified of my own bathtub—clearly a hideous deathtrap beckoning me with its gleaming porcelain—which should be replaced immediately with a walk-in model. But until I can get cracking on that, I should strap on a Life Alert button, just in case I fall, alone and terrified, bleeding out from a gaping head wound. And probably regretting I didn’t snap up one of those cheap life insurance or “final expense” policies they keep badgering me about.

Honest to God, I feel like I should be writing my will during the commercial breaks.

And the ads that don’t imply I’ll be lunching with St. Peter any day now assume I’m itching to sue someone or have already weaseled a structured settlement but need more cash fast. Perhaps to call a psychic, or hook up with strangers on a cheesy dating line! I know the demographics for classic TV stations skew older (read: fear-mongering), but do they also skew creepy?

An informal poll among like-minded friends and elderly relatives—including my 88-year-old Mom, who pretty much lives with Jessica Fletcher and Jim Rockford—reveals that none of us have ever bought anything being advertised on these channels. In fact when that California Psychic ad comes on (“When Mary called, I could tell she was hurting…”), I practically fall over furniture to grab the remote. Maybe I should have one of those Life Alert buttons after all…



  1. During Jeopardy! they harangue us with the chairs that take you up and down the stairs. Invariably, the hubby starts yelling at the “has-beens and holdovers” to “move to a place on one level if you can’t walk”! I believe the advertisers believe the fans to be over 100 at least.

    Your mom lives with Jessica and Jimbo – I’ll be chuckling about that for the rest of the night.

    • I usually also have a running commentary when I see these ads… including the ones where someone loses a loved one but is so relieved they had life insurance that they don’t seem to miss the person at all…

  2. maddylovesherclassicfilms

    Haha! Just how old do they think people watching these series are?

  3. I grew up in the 1980’s so I’m a total sucker for those TV shows like Murder, She Wrote. My mom was also addicted to those mega-dramas like Dallas, Dynasty, and Falcon Crest (the original series) and I used to watch them with her all the time. I recently watched a marathon of M*A*S*H and came to really appreciate the tone of humor and seriousness that that series set about the psychological effects of war.

    Tam May
    The Dream Book Blog

  4. Buttemilk Sky

    The one I can’t mute fast enough comes festooned in red, white and blue and tells me I “may qualify” for all sorts of extra-Medicare benefits (if I can afford them, they never add). It’s designed to look like an official government announcement and features an actor dressed as a doctor for further persuasion. Just call the number on your screen and you’ll never be lonely again — they’ll pursue you to the grave until you sign up. When Elizabeth Warren is president she needs to end this on Day One.

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