The Television Saga, Part 3: The End?

Question: What do you get when you cross a black lacquer coffee table with the visor that LeVar Burton wore as Geordi in Star Trek: The Next Generation?

Answer: The Sceptre X42!

This was the next television that came to our home, after the old television was declared unfit and the new television was cast out when it didn’t work with the Playstation.

The Sceptre X42 had all the right credentials. It was 1080p High Definition LCD etc. It was tested with the Playstation. It was from Costco. But the picture linked to above does not even begin to convey the ugliness of this object.

Keep thinking about those coffee tables and 1980’s “futuristic” design. Imagine them mashed together in a horrible accident and reincarnated into something that would look at home showing sports in a tacky hotel bar with a bunch of neon signs, and you may begin to understand. I didn’t think I had strong feelings about the aesthetics of televisions. If you had asked me “Hey, are there ugly televisions?” I would have guessed that there were, but how bad could they be? As soon as Cody pulled the wrapping off this monstrosity, I found out.

Did I mention the light? The bright blue light? See the controller box in the pictures? See the blue light that looks kind of pleasant and cool? DEATH RAY. Seriously. Could only be stopped by placing a cardboard box in front of it.

I tried to live with it. I tried. I really wanted to be done with the television saga. I just wanted to watch a few episodes of Buffy in peace. Is that so wrong?

C-Man was very nice about the whole thing. He asked me, point blank, whether I wanted to return it. I hemmed and hawed. Thankfully, after extensive testing, he found that it overscanned. Not a mortal sin, but enough to tip the scales and send it back to Costco.

We boxed it, boxed the controller and cables in their box, shoved the big box into Grace’s car, and off we went. Without the controller/cable box. Or the receipt. And then C-Man had to go back home to get them. And then the cashier didn’t tell us we could get a check back, so he gave us over $1700 in cash. And then I felt like a bad person because we’d spent that much money on a television. And I thought I would be mugged while going to the bank. But I wasn’t. So that was good.

Good, except that we didn’t have a television, and I was soon thereafter taken quite ill with a mysterious ailment called “pregnancy,” and I had NOTHING TO DO. When all you can do is lie on your side curled into a little ball and whimper, there are very few recreational pastimes you can engage in to take your mind off it. I re-read all the Harry Potter books. I re-read the His Dark Materials trilogy. I re-read Vineland by Thomas Pynchon. By that point, I almost needed surgery on my arms to correct the damage done by holding a book up in the air for hours.

C-Man, I said, we need to solve this problem. Now. Working from a strengths-based perspective, if I’m going to survive feeling this sick, I must be allowed to use my epic powers of self-distraction. I don’t care what kind of television it is, I just want it now.

At this point, we had escalated beyond items that could be transported in our car, or in Grace’s Honda Element. C-Man had to rent a pickup from Home Depot to bring home the JVC HD-ILA. It’s so big that I can tell the stars of 10 Things I Hate About You don’t actually have perfect skin. But it’s a television, and it works.

Kind of.

Let me walk you through the process we used to view media on this television:

  1. Turn on television.
  2. Turn on Playstation.
  3. Insert disc in Playstation.
  4. Begin watching disc.
  5. When television shuts itself off, hit pause on Playstation remote.
  6. Wait for television fan to shut off.
  7. Turn on television.
  8. Press play on Playstation remote.
  9. Wait for it to happen again, repeat process.

The repairman came and replaced the $200 bulb. (Note to self, do not think ahead to when bulb burns out and must be replaced. Just don’t.) Still no better. They offered to pick it up and take it for repair, which they claimed meant it would be gone for two weeks. We didn’t believe them, and also I thought I would die if I was forced to lie down after work and just think about how bad I felt, with nothing else to focus on.

A few weeks passed, though, and C-Man decided we really needed to return it if we were going to. So he rented another truck from Home Depot and had them switch it out for another one. So far, so good.

But here’s my question. Why, for the love of all that’s holy, can a couple of people who are willing to spend almost $2000 on a television not get what they want? I don’t want a television with a bulb that will eventually burn out and have to be replaced, or that could be destroyed by a power outage. I don’t want a television that hulks, I want a nice, light, flat television that C-Man and I can move effortlessly. I don’t want black, I want silver, so it doesn’t show dust so badly and doesn’t take over the room so much. C-Man wants a 1080p HD television that will perform as advertised, including the switching capability that the Westinghouse lacked.

With all this capitalism lying about the place generating hundreds of choices of televisions, why can’t we get that?

I blame the president. Of what, I don’t know, but when I find out I assure you that I am going to write one angry letter.