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 TV Bites With Neena Louise

Show, Show, Where's the Show?

by Neena Louise

The new television season has barely begun (some series have not even premiered yet), and shades of the quality of the season have already appeared. That is to say: it's going to suck.

I was aghast that, a mere two shows into the season, many established series are airing repeats (CSI, Without a Trace, ER) or have gone AWOL (Scrubs, The West Wing, Boomtown). In the case of Scrubs, I tuned in and found an episode of Whoopi (my vote for worst new sitcom). I tuned in to watch The West Wing and found a repeat of Law & Order: CI. The listings - both printed and on the Internet - are wrong more times than not and I'm about ready to just give up on network television altogether.

I don't get it. The Big Four (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox) have been whining incessantly for years about declining viewership. This is how they're going to fix it? In the case of The West Wing, there was no explanation for its absence other than the network "decided not to air" it that week. Well, I have an explanation: the season starts later and later into the fall and, for some unfathomable reason, sweeps month remains November. Therefore, there's no time to "save up" episodes to air during sweeps and we're stuck with repeats early in the season. This is the most bewildering thing the networks have ever done and I, for one, am thoroughly disgusted.

I imagine they feel that viewers will get hooked on the measly new-episode offerings and wait with anticipation for more, tolerating repeats in the meantime. Well, I've got news for them: if the quality of some of the season premieres is any indication, I'll just watch satellite and cable and wait for the summer repeats of the Big Four's offerings. CSI's season opener was dull and lacked its featured in-the-body camera work; Without a Trace's was stupid and shlocky; ER's premiere was actually okay, but the second show of the season sucked; the new shows are rather lackluster. Couple that with bizarre start times and I have to wonder: do the networks really think we're anticipating new episodes so much we're willing to tolerate all this nonsense? If they do, then they'll be watching their viewership decline even further.

If the networks are going to air repeats solely to save new episodes for sweeps, why don't they just start the season in November, for heaven's sake? Better yet, move sweeps to October. Or - best of all - dispense with the money-grubbing sweeps months altogether.

In our dreams. 
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