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Farewell, Old Friend



Not only was January 22 the most depressing day of the year (as previously written), but it was also a day that truly marked the end of an era.

I had received my final issue of TV Guide...forever (Cue the dramatic score!).

The decision to end my subscription after nine-plus years was easier to make than I had imagined. One can say TiVo and the Internet are to blame for my decreasing dependency on what used to be my second Bible (of course, this was before Entertaiment Weekly entered my life). I have embraced the digital world, thanking my personalized DVR and favorite sites for supplying me with up-to-date schedules and various resources of infotainment.

TV Guide and I have traveled down a long road together. From its list price of 75 cents to an astounding $2.49, I witnessed an evolution in television. I fondly remember Jeff Jarvis's Couch Corner, especially the first time he reviewed an on-the-rise GenX soap on Fox "guest starring" Heather Locklear. I soaked up which films deserved four stars in the Movie Guide at the back of each issue (I never bothered with the crossword puzzles: 5 letters Down for Sesame Street's _____ the Grouch? Please.). I clipped ads and articles of The X-Files and Buffy, saving them for scrap books that I believed would one day be priceless in the eyes of fanboys across America. I mentally noted which series finales to watch so that I could say I witnessed how a classic sitcom or drama ended its successful run (Roseanne became a widow, J.R. Ewing met his guardian angel).

And then there were the Fall Previews, issues I have collected since 1994, the year when audiences were introduced to a certain coffee-drinking sitcom sextet and George Clooney became the original McDreamy. I loved getting these super-sized issues, guessing which new shows were DOA, seeing what network TV-movies were on the line-up (Joanna Kerns and the dad from The Wonder Years in 1990's The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake anyone?).

Images from memorable covers made a slight imprint on my mind: the controversial pic in which Jane Pauley's head was cut and pasted onto another woman's body, the tantalizing trio of tramps from the WB's too-short-lived Savannah, the brave and candid profile on Michael J. Fox.

Before I could afford my own subscription, before the days of independent living, TVG would greet me every week under the flourescent-lit aisles of supermarkets back in New Rochelle. Whenever my mother dragged me to the A&P for a little grocery shopping, the first thing I would do when we passed through those sliding doors was run to the checkout stands, grab the newest issue, and start absorbing the following week's schedule. Were there repeats? What late-night B-movies were playing on USA over the weekend? Which damsel was in distress over on Lifetime?

While other boys my age were flipping through Sports Illustrated and sneaking Playboy under their shirts, I was gushing over Emmy telecasts and the full-page spots for the two-hour season finale of Melrose Place ("Blackmail. Kidnapping. Attempted murder. What will Kimberly do for an encore?").

Coinciding with the rise of digital recorders and entertainment tabloids was the debut of the new TV Guide, the large format that currently sits on newsstands. I never liked the change. I missed my little, black-and-white pocket guide. I never welcomed the new columns, the colored grids, the obnoxious celebrity dossiers. It felt like my old friend had undergone an extreme makeover just to fit in with the rest of the mags. It was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

I now raise a glass to TVG. We had a fun run. I'll say hello every now and then while standing in the checkout lanes of Ralph's or Vons (although Trader Joe's is my preferred grocer). I'll flip through it, see what's happening within its pages, especially if there's a cover story I can't resist.

I know deep down that TVG understands my reasons behind this amicable separation. It's a change that has been coming for quite some time. I wish it the best in its future endeavors.

So long, farewell...

Now hand me the remote. I need to Season Pass Beauty and the Geek.

H.P.M.

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