Next TV commercial, please

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 20, 2002

It has become painfully obvious to me that nothing in this life is free. I know for some people this is merely stating the obvious, but I have found a new example of how everything has a price. I would like to delve into the fine realm of entertainment for this example. Give me the length of this article to explain before you make any assumptions. I want to talk a bit about the "F" word.

The world is filled with items and gestures that boldly wear the promotional price tag of "free." Companies and agencies are quick to use the term, but few actually present a product that is truly free. Sure the product is free, but not technically. You see -- most companies have certain agreements that must be met to receive the free goodies.

"Act now you get the second banana free."

"If you use your credit card . . ."

"Buy one get the second free."

Are these things really free? Would they just give these things to you without the purchase of something else? I think not. It sometimes makes one wonder about the quality of these free gifts. I mean -- if the product is so wonderful, then why is the company willing to give you two for $20? This my friends is the quandary of late night television infomercials. Late night television is another universe of weird sights and sounds. Late night television is where stupidity runs amuck. Why else would Letterman still be on the air?

Forgive me for straying from the point. Let us return to the concept of infomercials -- or better yet -- commercials in general. Nothing is ever really free, as stated above. Americans assume that, when they tune their television antenna to the local station, that it is free to the public -- wrong. You pay a price for viewing these stations and that price is commercials.

I believe the average sitcom (i.e. Friends, Frazier., etc.) consists of 50 percent commercials. I have never actually verified this assumption, but I will some day -- I promise. Most of the show is spent building up to cliff-hanger

moments where the show can cut to commercial without losing the interest of the viewer. Sometimes I have trouble remembering my own name. I don't want to be left hanging for 10 minutes while I wait for the show to come back on. I forget which show was playing by the time I see five soft drink, three cereal and six automobile commercials. The same problem exists with radio stations. I find it difficult to listen to the radio because of the large volume of commercials. Most stations have large blocks of uninterrupted music, but it is most times followed by a large block of continuous commercials. The inception of satellite radio has made things a bit more bearable. I will stick to my CDs for now.

I have my opinion of some commercials, but, as the saying goes, every story has two sides. I understand the concept of revenue and profit. If customers do not pay a fee to access the station, then profit must be generated through advertising, but some things can be a bit excessive.

I have found some commercials are more entertaining than the actual sitcom. I am sure everyone has their favorite commercial. Talking dogs are replaced by talking geckos. Pop icons take turns sharing the spotlight with their favorite soft drink.

Feel free to e-mail me your thoughts about commercials. Do you have a favorite commercial? Does any certain commercial seem to grate on your nerves? What is the best commercial of all time?

I guess it all boils down to one simple things. Nothing in life is free.