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Nothing But Net: Life Without TV

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The other day I made like Howard Beale, the famously frustrated anchorman in Network, who implored his viewers to throw open their windows and yell, ”I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Except I went a step further — I actually threw the TV set out the window. (Well, figuratively speaking, anyway.) There has got to be a better, cheaper way to keep myself entertained.

Then it hit me: All day, and sometimes well into the night, I sit in front of the nouveau boob tube — my computer. Everyone’s hyping the Web as the Next Big Entertainment Medium. So trash the TV, I said to myself, and let’s see how well I can survive on Web-o-tainment alone. Over a one-day period, could I suck all my beloved TV entertainment through a single high-speed Internet connection?

What about my President Bartlet fix — and my disdain for Richard Hatch?

I log on to Welcome to the White House, the official presidential website (http://www.whitehouse.gov), and try to pretend it’s like watching The West Wing, but it’s boring, so I surf and locate an unofficial West Wing site (homepages.go.com/hompages/t/h/e/thewestwing/multimedia.html) for a slice of the real fake thing. The site promises links to NBC-sanctioned video clips, an episode guide, character biographies, and a West Wing screensaver, which would’ve enabled me to keep my eyes on Martin Sheen, if I could’ve made the download work.

I was never a big fan of Survivor, which is why I enjoyed a parody of the show by The Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Notaro (azcentral.com/rep/front/0808survivor. html). The major players are there — portrayed by Barbie dolls. This video is mildly obscene, gross, and homophobic — in other words, not suitable for an audience typically enamored of Barbie.

What’s a Sunday night without Andy Rooney?

Like millions of Americans, I love 60 Minutes, except that I often can’t watch it on Sundays. Alas, I find it impossible to get my Morley Safer fix on the Web. But the Australian version of the show, which bears the same name (sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/), gives Mike Wallace and Christiane Amanpour a run for their money. And it’s easy to view the streaming video with a media player.

Leaving Sydney for Springfield, I start searching for another Sunday-night fave: The Simpsons. I find no shortage of Homer- and Bart-mania online. Many video clips promised by fans have been yanked by the copyright police, but fortunately, there are lots of audio files. Example: This Is a Page Dedicated to the Crank Calls That Bart Simpson Makes to Moe’s Tavern (http://www.geocities.com/TimesSquare/4294/bart.htm).

Waiting for Duchovny: Will the spaceship ever return?

It takes a while to download, even on my speedy T-1 connection at work, but I get a slice of another of my TV staples, The X-Files, thanks to one particularly fine site — O’Scullyvan’s X-Files (http://www.emailcentral.com/elise/multimed.html). Now that Mulder has been abducted by aliens, seriously reducing any chance of an affair between him and Scully, it’s ultra-crucial that I be able to relive the New Year’s Kiss memories, if only online.

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