I recently house-sat for a month while two very good friends enjoyed the sun in their apartment in Hawaii.

Wait, you are saying: “If they were very good friends, wouldn’t they take you with them?:

Good point. But I got the next best thing: A month with cable television! All I had to do in return was to take the trash to the curb and make sure the pipes didn’t freeze.

I’m not sure how long it has been now — at least several years — when I got rid of cable television because it cost to much and I literally felt like I was wasting my life watching it. Come home, turn on cable, lapse into coma — you know the drill.

But I still miss it once in awhile, and my time in my friends’ house would give me a chance to catch up.

What a letdown. Out of, say, 300 channels, there are probably five worth watching. It’s clear that the people who dream up TV shows have run out of ideas. I predict it’s just a matter of time before we see the following:

  •  Hey, What’s Cooking? (Food Network) — World-famous chefs must prepare a gourmet meal in 15 minutes using the foods they are given. Tonight’s mystery bag includes a can of lard, three eels and a giant-sized bag of Cheetos.
  •  American Pickers meet the Hoarders (History Channel) — Tired of rummaging through old barns, Mike and Fritz explore the homes of hoarders, looking for historic newspapers and petrified food.
  •  Stephen A. Smith Yells About Something (ESPN) — The popular sports talk-show host finds some issue on which to vent his spleen. This week’s topic: Kids who choke in spelling-bee contests.
  •  Spleen Venting (E!) — Celebrities are given cliches to prove or disprove. For example, how would a doctor vent a spleen.? Also this week: Iowan Tom Arnold leads a horse to water to see if he can make it drink.
  • We Watch Cats as Cats Watch Goldfish (The Kitty Network) — In this episode, Goldie’s curiosity nearly knocks over the goldfish bowl. You won’t want to miss the dramatic ending.
  •  Fun With Lint (PBS) — Artists show their creative work, using nothing more than bellybutton lint. Viewers can buy a video showing how to do their own art if they send a $1,000 sponsor gift.
  • Shark Tank (ABC) — A Florida entrepreneur seeks the investors’ help in his marketing his newest creation, an actual shark tank.
  • Watching Corn Grow (History Channel) — The people who brought you last-season’s surprise hit, “Watching Paint Dry,” are back. A camera is set up in a middle of a cornfield. Watch those stalks soar!
  • “The Nominee” (MSNBC) — All of the Democratic candidates for president move into a mansion in Dallas County, Iowa. They compete in various challenges — balancing a checkbook, giving a speech, coming up with the best plan for soaking the rich. Iowans vote each week on who to kick out of the house. The losers are given one-way tickets to New Hampshire. The winner gets Iowa’s delegates and Big Mo, the prizewinning hog at last year’s Iowa State Fair.
  •  Robots Are Your Friends (The Robot Network) — This week’s episode profiles Henry FZ10TWX, the robot that will be taking over your job.
  • Middle School Basketball! (ESPN 2) — Two promising teams from California see if they can set a national record for double dribbling before they score a basket. Bob Costas and Tony Romo describe the action.
  •  Photoshopping for Fun and Profit (PBS) — Hey, you’ve go a cute cat. Why couldn’t it appear on a meme with a funny headline and dominate the internet? We’ll show you how. Episode One: How to pronounce “meme.”
  •  Law and Order: Meter Maids (NBC) — Betty and Olivia are stunned when a gang of overparkers takes off before they can write them a ticket.
  • Hot Enuf For Ya (Local Access Channel) — A small-town Iowa diner serves as the setting as people compete to see who can produce the most creative weather complaint. First-prize: A trip to Manitoba, Canada.

True story. The night my friends returned from Hawaii, their pipes froze. Probably not worth a TV show, but you never know.


Ken Fuson of Des Moines may be reached at kfuson@iowainformation.com.