With all the television options available today, I don’t watch as many network shows as I used to. But this past Wednesday night was three hours of broadcast channels. It was an unexpected 3-for-3 night that has earned a column.
Mary Ann and I had recorded two of the shows: “Jeopardy!” on ABC and “Undercover Boss” on CBS. After watching those, I stumbled onto a surprisingly interesting PBS show about the world’s ozone layer problem in the 1980s.
People who only watch TV off Netflix or Amazon may not get this, but we have learned to record shows we like and start watching them 20 minutes after they begin.
This is because most broadcast and cable channel shows include 42 minutes of programming every hour, with ads taking up the remaining 18 minutes. The 20-minute delay lets you zip right past the commercials.
We watched “Undercover Boss” first. It’s probably the only place on TV where people who run companies get to look good. They wear elaborate disguises and work at menial jobs to see what’s really going on with their business.
Mary Ann and I rarely if ever watch the show, but tuned in this week because the featured business was Walk-On’s, the Louisiana chain that the show said is the fastest-growing sports bar business in the country. We’ve been to their place in Metairie a couple of times because our son Thomas likes it.
Anyway, the real hook was that Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who owns 25 percent of the company, wore a long-haired wig and facial hair to work in the kitchen of the company’s restaurant near the Superdome.
I have to say this: The way Brees kept dropping dishes and glasses in that kitchen reminded me of his untimely fourth-quarter fumble against Minnesota last week, which killed the Saints’ momentum as they were driving to take the lead. But I’m over it.
“Undercover Boss” does a great job of finding appealing employees who face personal challenges, because the guy Brees worked with, and the two that the majority owner met, all fit that description. There were happy endings, and then it was on to “Jeopardy!”
The show is doing a prime-time “Greatest of All Time” series with three of its best players: Brad Rutter, Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer. Each night, they play two games and total up the points. The first contestant to win three nights gets $1 million, while the other two will have to be satisfied with $250,000.
We rarely see the show, and I suspect that a lot of people are watching it because of longtime host Alex Trebek’s battle with cancer. He really is perfect for this brainy game, just like Bob Barker was ideal for “The Price is Right.”
I missed most of Tuesday’s show but set it to record after that. On Wednesday night, it took about three questions for Mary Ann and me to realize that we definitely are not “Jeopardy!” champions.
Out of 30 items on each board, I maybe knew the answer (or question) to five or six. Except for the one with college football as a category; I nailed all of those.
Those three guys rarely miss an answer. It is truly impressive to watch.
After that, I got up to iron some of my shirts. (Mary Ann says I tell people this so they’ll think I’m actually helpful around the house.) The TV went to public television after the recordings ended, and that’s how I stumbled into “Ozone Hole: How We Saved the Planet.”
I watched the show while ironing. It was a great review of all that environmental stuff from the 1970s and the 1980s. It showed plenty of clips of my favorite broadcasters like John Chancellor talking about CFCs and the ozone layer. I remember all that stuff so well.
One thing I didn’t know is that the problem gained a lot of attention when “All in the Family” discussed it in a 1974 episode.
This environmental story has a good ending. Once leaders like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher listened to the warnings from scientists, they got a bunch of countries to quit using the chemical that was destroying the ozone.
The comparison with today’s climate concerns is obvious. The lesson is that we figured out a solution, and the ozone layer should be whole again by 2065.
It was a reminder that we should all have a little faith in the future of the country.