In The Plug-In Drug (1976) Marie Winn theorized that the act of watching television--regardless of program content--might affect brain hemisphere development. Goldsen also focuses on the tube and psychic space, but her dial is set at a more conventional station--TV's pervasive and unregulated penetration of public consciousness. ""It is still possible to turn off the television set. It is no longer possible to turn off the television environment."" Although this target has been hit before, her argument is well-stated, and she points out dozens of disheartening examples. Criticism of freeze-dried relationships--the trivialization of emotions, the prevalence of violent encounters--has appeared regularly ever since Commissioner Minow first deplored the wasteland; not only is Kojak in-escapable, but flesh-and-blood alternatives can't get equal time. Prof. Goldsen (Sociology, Cornell) contends that the influence of such hollow programming, especially on young viewers, has been seriously underestimated, and unchecked merchandising further distorts value systems and perceptions of reality. She is astute in her analysis of (1973-75) soaps and sitcoms, cartoons and commercials--all areas except the news and sports--and even Sesame Street is faulted: its characters never read or refer to books. No vanguard then, but it's the real thing nonetheless.