Before the Days of “On Demand”

Don’t get me wrong. I love having instantaneous access to the huge selection of movies, television shows, plays, music, and everything else we can get our hands on with the click of a button. But there’s a little nostalgic part of me that remembers the excitement of settling down to watch a movie like The Wizard of Oz, which only came on television once a year. Yes, once a year. From the time I was so young that I covered my eyes when Dorothy and her companions went down the frightening green tunnel to see the Wizard, to my teen years when I’d invite friends over to watch with me, seeing that movie was always an event.

The pent-up anticipation to view a story we loved, one that was only broadcast once a year, was enormous. We savored every scene, we sang every song, we added to our knowledge of the characters’ lines during each viewing. And when one of my cousins got her hands on a copy of the script and gave a copy to me, I might as well have been handed the Holy Grail.

Today we can watch and re-watch the same movie all day long if we want to, or binge-watch an entire cable series over a single weekend. Whether or not that’s the best use of time, I won’t get into. But I will say that I doubt anyone who grew up in this era of instant access to entertainment can feel the joy I felt when my favorite movies, with their long-awaited appearances, were about to begin. They were like rare gems in a jewelry box that was only opened at certain times. And they did sparkle.