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 TV Bites with Neena Louise

OPINION

TV Bites

Seasonal Blues
by Neena Louise

With the latest television season winding down and the so-called "summer season" about to start, I have only two words: ho hum.

This season was borrrrrring! Though bad television has existed since TV began, this season has to be the most uninspiring yet. By mid-February, I was starting to finish characters' lines for them (a very bad sign, indeed). The so-called "surprise twists" could be seen a mile away, making the characters look like total morons for not seeing it sooner. Serialized dramas were either yanked after only a couple of airings (Kidnapped, Daybreak, Drive) or deteriorated into laughable absurdidty (Prison Break, 24, Lost). Other shows quickly became stale (Grey's Anatomy, Ugly Betty), or just plain depressing (Jericho). Viewership is generally down from last season and here are some theories as to why:
 

The Hiatus

Many series took lengthy hiatuses, losing their impetus and much of their audience in the process. Regardless of how much one might like a series, in this world of tiny attention spans and huge numbers of channels from which to choose, no one is going to sit around and wait anxiously for several weeks or months to see any given show again. They'll find something else to watch. When the series returns, if they're anything like me, they might tune in to the first episode after its return, but if it's not outstandingly brilliant...well, forget about it.
 

Repeats. Clip Show. Repeats. Repeats. Clip Show.

Again and again, I tuned into watch a show I like only to find it a repeat (sometimes even during - gasp - Sweeps!). After weeks and weeks of repeats, the networks started crowing about their "all new episodes". When their "new" episodes often turned out to be rehashes of the season so far, I felt ripped off and pissed off. Now I don't believe the networks' claims of "new" episodes and check on the Internet to find out for sure. Or just not bother with the show I used to like and watch something else instead. It never ceases to amaze me that the networks have such a low opinion of viewer intelligence. Sure, for a while their claims of "new" episodes sucked people in to watching, but it's not going to keep working if they throw together a clip show and call it "new".
 

Increasingly Stupid Game Shows

Are you Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?!?!? What kind of crap is that?!? Or how about Identity? Or the huge ratings opening briefcases garners? Okay, now I'm starting to understand why the networks think their viewers are stupid...
 

Stale Reality Fare

For the first time, I didn't bother with American Idol after the auditions were over. It's always the same: sing, blah, blah, blah, Simon says something rude, blah, blah, blah, Paula gushes and slurs her words, blah, blah, blah, Randy says dawg. Real riveting television, there. Survivor? I missed probably a half-dozen episodes and, it seems, missed nothing at all. Amazing Race? It had some good moments, but, as with most "all star" versions, it was often a snooze. The Bachelor? Well, who watches that anymore? Stir in the stupid The Real Wedding Crashers, mix in the sappy and predictable Extreme Makeover, and well, I'll take make-believe over reality any day.


So how, dear networks, how can you fix this? Some suggestions:

1. No hiatuses, no repeats. Run the whole season in its entirety. If that means the season ends in February, well, so be it. Run the repeats after the entire season's episodes have aired. If people like the show, they will watch it again. It will also give those that didn't watch it the first time to see it in its entirety. I bet you'll be surprised at the ratings you'll get.

2. No clip shows. Having a short attention span does not mean having no memory. We do not need a clip show after 10 episodes to remind us of what has happened so far. Neither do we not need "never-before seen" clips. If they weren't good enough to air the first time around, they're not good enough to ever air.

3. If you air a serialized drama, run the whole thing - ratings be damned - or don't run it at all. It's not good enough to offer unaired episodes on broadband Internet, since not everyone has broadband and those that do aren't necessarily interested in watching television on their computers. Furthermore, you usually can't capture an audience with 2 or 3 episodes. Just because a few series manage this, doesn't mean they all will (or even should). There's a thing called buzz and it needs time to spread. Personally, I'm staying away from new serialized dramas. If they manage to survive an entire season, I'll watch it in repeats.

4. Enough with the game shows. Game shows belong in daytime television, not primetime.

5. Create new reality series. All the existing, long-time reality shows are really showing their age. If you can't come up with a new idea, then at least spin the old reality shows to the extent that they're more interesting, barely-recognizable versions of themselves. Same old, same old won't cut it anymore.

6. Stop bitching about actors' salaries. I've heard the excuse time and again that the actors are demanding so much money, that there's not enough left to create truly great shows. Bullshit. Millions and millions of dollars are made on the backs of the actors. If you don't think they're worth it, or it means creating a crappy show around a good actor, then don't give them the salary they want. People will still watch if the story is good. Which brings me to:

7. Hire writers that can write something fresh and, well, good. It speaks volumes that your audience can finish sentences before they're said. Leave the inexperienced bloggers to their blogs and hire some writers with teeth that have a modicum of creativity. Then leave them alone to write and keep your ignorant, prissy noses out of it.

8. My all time favorite: CANCEL SWEEPS! Sweeps is the biggest contributor to the deterioration of network television. When only 3 months are deemed "the" months to set ad rates according to ratings, is it any wonder the rest of the season bites? No.

The networks will pay no attention to any of this, of course. All they do is blame stupid viewers, greedy actors and, well, probably DVDs and the Internet (since these seem to be what the entire entertainment industry blames when their revenues dip). The public is not responsible for not watching...the networks are. Duh.
 

 

We would love to know what you think, sound off on the TV message boards and let us know what you think!

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