The other evening I was scrolling through all of the various program choices on television, trying to find something interesting enough to watch, and short enough to sit through, before I turned in for the night.

You’ve done that too, right?

You read the small blurb describing the show and then look at the time and realize it’s an hour and 45 minutes long! And then you play that game in your head of “Hmmm, do I get all that wrapped up into a show that runs this long at this time of night?

Yeah, happens all the time with me.

When I was a kid back in the 1960s, TV shows were a fixed thing when it came to time.

You had the half-hour comedy — like “Bewitched” and “Gilligan’s Island” — and then you had the more serious hour-long shows like “Perry Mason” and “The Fugitive.”

And, of course, in the span of a half-hour you sat through six minutes of commercials. (Twelve minutes if the show was an hour.)

This is what I grew up with as a child. Everything was a known quantity when it came to time.

Now, it’s all over the road.

Recently, I clicked on a show, read the blurb, and realized it lasted only 22 minutes. That was it. The show itself sounded interesting enough, but it was the time that got me to watch.

Twenty two minutes? I spend more time in the bathroom in the morning.

Heck, I can do anything for 22 minutes.

And of course on Netflix there are no commercials! Double bonus!

This is when I started to notice that the traditional half-hour/hour format I grew up with is long gone.

Got 15 minutes? Now you can watch a comedy series called “Small Shots.” Quarter-hour episodes are right at my attention span level. And if I’ve had too many diet Pepsis and am wound up, there’s now a show called “Ready for Start” that runs — get this — seven minutes!

My life is improving rapidly.

Of course, advertisers have noticed this, too. The traditional timeframe they had viewers held to when I was a kid is long gone. If a deodorant commercial was 60 seconds back in my day while watching the “Fugitive,” it became a 30-second spot 10 years ago, and is now a 15-second blurb (with a “skip commercial” link after 6 seconds) while I’m streaming some show on my phone.

Folks, I’m imagining there’s going to be a day in the future when you’ll be watching a TV series that runs for five minutes, with one 8-second commercial, and this will be how we take in our entertainment.

Which works great for me.

• • •

Hey everybody, I wanted to let you know that sometimes I just want to be a bit mindless when it comes to these columns. Every so often I need a break from whatever is going on here in America and just want to write about something silly, like today’s. The world’s problems, America’s problems, can be put on hold every so often in order to take the time to laugh at the ridiculous stuff we think of while surfing the Net, or trying to find something to watch before we call it a night.

Pete Mitchell’s “In America” column appears every other Monday. He lives in Geneva and can be reached at

Recommended for you


(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.