Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What has happened to Network Television

I love TV.

Like most kids my generation I grew up watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Romper Room. This led to watching sitcoms like Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons, then I started watching "Dramas" like Knight Rider, The A-Team and The Powers of Matthew Star.

Comedies and Sci-Fi television has always been what I gravitate to with a few Dramas thrown in from time to time, but in my life I watched the original V Miniseries followed by the TV show, I was an avid Alf, and Cheers fan which as I grew became Seinfeld and now 30 Rock and The Office.

But I am having a problem with my TV these days, and my gripe is mostly directed and the major networks CBS, NBC, Fox and ABC: I find myself not enjoying your shows. More of my DVR is recording cable shows and during a discussion with a friend this weekend, I realized next year I may be watching only a handful of shows on Network television. Below, I will list what I am currently watching and at end I will put a Y if I will watch next year if it returns, a N if I will not and an M if it's a maybe.

CBS: This has always been the station that I watched the least of. Maybe I'm not their core audience, but as much of a Science Fiction fan as I am, I have never seen an episode of The Ghost Whisperer, and I've never seen an episode of any CSI. I watch CBS a lot for Sports, most notably NCAA Basketball and NFL Football, and they have the best News Program on TV in 60 Minutes, but other than that my remote control rarely punches in 702 (For HD). The shows that I am currently watching are:

- How I Met Your Mother - Has gotten increasingly bad as the seasons have progressed. Now, I pretty much only tune in to see NPH do his thing. (M)

- Big Bang Theory - I started watching this show due to word of mouth, and I really don't see what all the hype is about. Their comic book references are on point, but I find it a chore to watch this show and can stop anytime. (M)

- The Amazing Race - The one reality show I enjoy simply because I would love the opportunity to do this challenge to see this much of the world. (Y - but only because I normally watch it as I go to bed on Sundays)

NBC: In my life, NBC has probably been the channel I have watched the most. From Family Ties and Alf to Cheers, Seinfeld and SNL, channel 4 was my favorite growing up. Now it still makes up the bulk of my DVR:

- Chuck - This is the show that got my friend and I on a discussion of TV today. He still enjoys it, I think the storylines have felt forced every since Chuck got the new intersect put in. They continue to keep Chuck and Sara apart for no reason except because history has shown that viewers tune out once the leads get together, so they are finding dumb obstacles to put in their place. Superman was also a horrible character, I'm glad he's gone.. or is he? I can't even remember and that's not good for the show. (M - but leaning towards N)

- Community - It's hit or miss every week. I continue to tune in and will next season if for nothing else Abed is one of the better sitcom characters around now. (M)

- Parks and Recreations - The first season was so bad, but I'm glad I came back. This has been one of the funniest shows on TV this year and look forward to more. (Y)

- The Office - Something is missing this season. It's still good, but not as much. (Y)

- 30 Rock - Alec Baldwin is still perfect. 30 Rock always makes me laugh, but like The Office, this has been missing something this year. (Y)

- SNL - I watch the 90 minute show in about 20 minutes. I give every skit a minute or 2 and if it loses me, i fast forward. I love Weekend Update and Whats Up With That. Otherwise, there are no recurring skits that I enjoy. (Y)

- Parenthood - I gave up after 3 episodes, I just didn't care anymore. (N)

- Heroes - I stopped watching midway through last year. (N)

*** Friday Night Lights - Everyone says it's great, but I've never seen it. This may be something I watch on Netflix- Watch It Now next year since I don't see myself watching too much TV.

Fox - I don't think I'm their demographic anymore. From their heyday of 90210 and Melrose Place, Fox just can't figure out what they want to be it seems.

- American Idol - Yes I watch it. No, I don't know why. I hope I can stop, but it's like a drug. I want to say (N), but it's really a (M).

- Glee - I've hated this show from the beginning, but I keep watching it trying to understand why people love it. My friend Craig has a rule: He doesn't watch a show where he wouldn't want to hang out with at least 1 character. Every character in Glee is mean, catty, morally reprehensible and cliche. On top of that, I don't think I know one character's name. I know them as their cliched name: The Cheerleader, the football player, the guy with the mohawk, the gay guy, the black girl, the asian girl, the guy in the wheelchair, the teacher, the teacher's wife, the guidance counselor, the principal, and the only character's name I know-- the villain Sue. I would love for anyone to explain why people like this show, but I don't know anyone else that watches it. (N)

- Fringe - I really like Fringe and look forward to it next year (Y).

ABC - Home to my baby Lost. The loss of Lost is really what made me reevaluate my TV viewing habits. Without this lynchpin of the show I care the most about, I found my desire to watch anything at all diminish. It's like Lost was so good, and so thought provoking that all other shows pale in comparison, so I started to ask myself why watch them at all? I've already seen the best (for now) until something can keep me as interested, I just don't see the point.

Lost - I'll miss you. (N)

Happy Town - Will this show fill the void? I doubt it, but I'll give it a try. (M)

V and Flash Forward - I already gave up and deleted from my DVR queue. I tried, but they failed me. (N)

Modern Family - A great sitcom in the vein of Arrested Development. I look forward to its success. (Y)

So by my count, next year I will be watching 4-5 NBC Commedies, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family and Fringe on network TV.

Each night there is 3 hours of prime time space, so that is 21 hours times 4 networks, so out of the 84 hours of TV that will be airing, I will be watching about 3-4 hours of them. Plug getting wrapped up in some new shows that will most likely fall by the wayside and a some nonesense, maybe 6 hours.

Most people see this as a good thing (and they're probably right). Too much TV is probably bad, but of course there are all the shows on Cable I will be watching:

True Blood, Dexter, Mad Men, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Treme, South Park and whatever shows I'm forgetting which I'm sure there are many.

But right there off the top of my head, I expect to be watching more Cable than Network TV. This is the first time in my TV watching history that the best shows, are not available to the masses anymore.

This may be a product of what the masses want and I may have more particular taste than the masses, but I'm just angry. Television is a huge business, and I understand that they must produce shows that appease the highest number of viewers to get the advertising dollars, but even Late Night Talk Shows will be better on cable with Conan coming to TBS and Jon Stewart signing on for another 2 years with Comedy Central.

Again, most people will say this is a good thing and they are probably right. I lived without TV for a year once and it was one of the best years of my life. I'm sure I can do it again, but my 46 inch Aquos is a strong drug. I feel the pull of her all the time and I just want to have the most entertainment possible when sitting in front of her inviting glow. I've known her for so long, we have an unspoken agreement. I feel like next year, she may disappoint me. Luckily with the advance of technology, I have another friend waiting in the wings. Her Twin sister the BluRay and the Netflix streaming box. I can find better quality than the networks put out. I can make my own schedule with DVR. There is hope. I just hopen to remain as enthused as I have for the first 30 years of my life.

1 comment:

cRAIG said...

we're in complete agreement on Glee. i've grown to hate that show. already covered our Chuck disagreement. would argue that How I Met Your Mother has become unwatchable. i'd say you're overrating Modern Family: strong pilot, average otherwise. certainly not Arrested Development good. Fringe has entered my Top 5...