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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

Now is the Season of Our Discontent

by Neena Louise

As we find ourselves deep in the depths of TV Rerun Wasteland, I started wondering WHY the television season starts in the fall and ends before summer. So I asked the networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, WB, UPN and Fox). Fox was the only one to bother responding (which somehow didn't surprise me...just reinforces my convictions that the Big Three don't give a hoot about their viewers and that UPN is a non-entity).

Fox responded thus: "In the Fall, the weather gets colder and the kids are back in school - thus the family tends to stay inside more in the evenings - and watching more TV. (In the summer months, many families are vacationing or at the very least staying out late into the evening because of the warm weather and no school the next day - thus less available viewers watching TV until Fall comes along)." That makes some sense, but I don't agree. Sure it's warmer in the North, but what about the huge audience in the South? And don't people go out during the week in the winter? And, with no school the next day, wouldn't kids be more likely to stay up and watch more TV? And don't people watch TV when they're on vacation? (I remember being thrilled with the great TV at my grandmother's house during summer vacations.) And what about people without kids? Or those who don't go on vacation?

As for the other networks, since they didn't bother to respond, I can only speculate:


It is a well-known fact that peacocks mate in the spring. Thus, I can only surmise that NBC's staff is simply too busy selectively mating and raising their young mascots during the spring and summer months to find the time to offer and promote new programming.


With the Disneyfication of ABC, executives have acquired the minds of children and don't know how to do anything else in the summer except go out and play. New programming? Bah! I'm going to Disneyland!!!


CBS's monstrous "Eye" probably has so many problems with "itchy, watery, eye" during the summer allergy season that it has to take a hiatus and relax (can't have Bloodshot Eye representing a network, after all), so of course no new programming can be scheduled when Eye isn't around. This summer, it was found rolling around with the survivors in the South China Sea trying not to point itself at the naked Richard; and holed up in the Big Brother House matching bloodshot eyes with the crybabies Jordan and Brittany.


Cartoon characters are known for going on extended summer vacations and taking wrong turns at Albuquerque and getting lost on their way to Miami Beach. They can also be found in Walla Walla Washington, Timbuktu and, of course, KOOOK-a-munga. Executives are so busy giving directions to their errant cartoon celebrities that they don't have time to create new series.


UPN doesn't need an reason since it doesn't matter when the season starts or ends as far as viewership (or, rather, the lack thereof) is concerned.

Forget the fall - why doesn't the season start in, say, January? People are definitely home more (especially in the North) and, with the post-Christmas letdown, new TV shows have a perfect opportunity to gain an audience. If I were King of TV, I'd start - not end - the season in May and run it until February. 'Course I'd also ban Sweeps and bugs, insist a TV hour be at least 48 minutes long, run full-size credits, and....well, you get the picture. In my dreams. 
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