Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fall 2009

In the old days, I used to look forward to the TV Guide Fall Preview Issue. I used to love reading about the new shows (and my returning favorites). I would look at the picture a new show's cast, read the show's synopsis, and then decide if this is a show that I think I will like. I would always save that TV Guide Fall Preview Issue until after the first of the year and see what shows survived. As a child, I used to get upset when a favorite new show got canceled. I remember asking a grown up (Many of whom worked in the industry), "Why did they cancel that show?" The response was always the same, "Because nobody watched it.” Infuriated I would shout, "I watched it!" Back then, I thought shows got canceled because one family named Nielsen did not like the show. Then I became one of those grown ups who said, "Because nobody watched it” and that may no longer be the case. More and more people are setting their DVRs to record a bunch of episodes and then watch them all on a lazy weekend. Some people wait until the end of the season and get the shows entire season on DVD. When you also add all the people who can now download shows onto their iPhone, how do the Nielsen's really know whose watching what?

This year I am less than enthusiastic about the new fall season. Last year it was understandable that I was less than enthusiastic about that fall's season (FALL 2007 Part II). Many returning shows that fall got a second chance at a first impression and many good shows failed to find an audience. Some of those shows would disappear for weeks or even months then reappear with little fanfare. If I did not have those shows programmed into my DVR, I would never know that they came back.

Perhaps my lack of enthusiasm can be attributed to the fact that many of the new shows don't appeal to me. I'm not saying that they are bad, they just don't appeal to me. The above is a good reason for my lack of enthusiasm but I don't think that is the real reason. The real reason is that we may be looking at the end of scripted programing on network television. As a person who lives and works in Hollywood, I fear that our local economy is going to suffer a big hit and we wont get a bailout. That's enough to kill one's enthusiasm.

Reality and talent competition shows are taking over and it is not because the scripted shows are bad... well not all of them are bad. It’s not because viewers aren't watching them. It is because they cost too much (Meaning reality and talent competition shows are cheaper to produce). Shows are being canceled for purely economic reasons. Perhaps that why some shows would disappear then reappear with little fanfare. Then the network's bean counters can say, "Look, we put the show back on and nobody is watching it. CANCELED!"

I am sure that this topic will be revisited on my blog and in discussions on TV CONFIDENTIAL with Ed Robertson and Frankie Montiforte and I would apriciate your comments on this subject.

To quote Wes Mendell (the fictional character on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, played by Judd Hirsch), “A struggle between art and commerce. Well, there’s always been a struggle between art and commerce. And now I’m telling you art is getting its ass kicked. And its making us mean, and it’s making us bitchy.”

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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