The other night during Crossing Jordan there was a commercial from McDonald’s sponsoring a "recap" that summarized the first half hour of the show. And I wondered why.
• Because the story line is so complex viewers need an internal summary?
• Because people lose attention; they multitask, use their laptops, talk on the phone? Or they doze in and out during the show?
• Because writers and producers want to give the show more focus than it really has by summarizing (and focusing) the main themes?
• Because it’s assumed that viewers surf during the dull parts of the show or don’t return quickly enough from surfing during commercials?
And then I thought, isn’t this the same as what we tell our public speaking students when we suggest transitions and internal summaries? I guess it’s for the same reasons. And I wonder if this going to be a steady type of announcement? Will it become the standard mid-hour commercial? Will we come to rely on it? And if so, is that going to lead us to pay less careful attention, figuring we’ll get the recap soon enough? And if so, is this going to lead us to become less aware of the meaning of media’s messages and less critical of the media generally?