• Andy Ross

Driven to Madness by TV


You may recall that a few weeks ago I talked about the difficulties I had related to moving in a new TV I bought. Getting the thing into my house was only the first part of what was a long process. For most people—IE: Normal people—that would be all there is to it. Getting the TV in the house, out of the box, plugged up, turned on, done! But I, you see, I am not normal people.


I’m very particular when it comes to, well, a lot of things. I’m especially particular when it comes to picture settings on my TV. I hate motion smoothing when it comes to movies. I want my movies to look like a movie and not an episode of “The Young and the Restless.” I’ve heard the arguments from all those who like this effect, but I can’t do it. It’s like a knife in my brain. Everything looks wrong and it feels like a puzzle I can’t solve.


I knew that motion smoothing was the first thing I would turn off on my new, fancy TV. Yet, I wasn’t prepared for just how many different picture modes, settings, and micro-adjustments you can do the fancy new TV. I had stated weeks ago that I was going from a 2006 model to a 2022 model. To say there’s been a leap in TV technology is an understatement.

For the first time in my life, I felt a bit overwhelmed and a little confused by all the TV could do.


There are no less than five different picture settings for movies, all varying from very good to almost perfect. Then in each of those settings, there are micro-adjustments you can make. There are all the regular viewing modes too. One that is just standard, one for sports, one for video games, and one that is close to expert calibration settings. Sports is a rather ugly-looking mode though, full of that motion smoothing that makes it look a bit too artificial.


There are even settings that do both video and audio tweaks. There’s one called “plasticine” which makes everyone look like they’ve just been to a cosmetic surgeon in Beverly Hills and adds a slight valley accent to everyone’s voices. There’s a mode for the youngest watchers called “Baby Melvin” which translates all the audio into “goo goo, ga ga” noises so that at last your three-month-old can finally watch “Chopped.”


I stuck with a setting called “filmmaker mode” for movies then used that calibrated mode thing for regular TV watching. This was followed by micro-adjusting. Taking off some extra little enhancements that I didn’t want on and making sure all the motion smoothing was off. Things that 80% of people wouldn’t notice or fool with, but here I was dedicating hours of my day to getting it just right.


Thus began my journey of madness. The pursuit of perfection, the desire to try out everything to dial in the TV to my painfully exacting standards. These all teamed up to produce a solid week and a half of me adjusting, watching a scene from “Jurassic Park,” adjusting again, watching the same scene, then repeating the cycle.


I did this for hours a few days. I had read so many online guides to setting up my TV, and watching videos on YouTube about what settings to have on and or off for movies. I soon began to feel that I was driving myself crazy. I was playing “Gaslight: The Home Game.” I was in my own personal, Edgar Allen Poe descent to madness, but instead of a beating heart under the floor it was “Do you want cinema screen on or off?”


I began to seem crazed, I locked myself in my basement and did nothing but watch “Jurassic Park” in every movie setting I could try out. Writing notes, drinking nothing but tropical punch Kool-Aid and eating raw oats for protein. My non-existent wife, Sheila, came down to check on me. I just turned to her and yelled “The colors, Duke! The colors!” That’s when she held my hand, took me upstairs, gave me tepid broth, and nursed me out of my state of televisual madness.


Now I’m happy with where the TV sits. I’ve got it all dialed in just right and it’s producing an amazing-looking picture with great color. Still, sometimes I wonder if I just gave the gamma one more little tweak. No. No, I’m happy with it. It’s all good. Anyways, I have to go. It’s time for my tepid broth. See you next week.