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