Playing For One Night Only: The Fall Television Season

Studio 60 promo shotAs you may have heard (or more likely seen, especially if you’ve been at a red light next to a bus), the 2006 – 2007 television season kicks off officially tonight. Starting tonight, approximately two dozen shows will attempt to find an audience; starting tonight, approximately two dozen shows will be biting their nails and hoping to survive until morning.

Television is not a sport for wimps.

Networks and studios spend months picking just the right shows, millions on production costs, sleepless nights on creating marketing campaigns, and far too many Post-Its to mention on setting just the right programming schedules to tempt our eyeballs. Then they ruin it all by throwing everything they’ve got at us all at once.

People, the viewers are mere mortals, only human. We have lives, jobs, cats, dirty dishes…TiVos. Give us a chance to find your new shows. Give your new shows a chance to find us. Appointment television died as a concept a long time ago. In other words, stop blaming the shows for your inability to see that you’re not the programming geniuses you think you are. One airing is hardly fair to the audience.

Oh, who am I kidding? We all know that nobody’s listening. In fact, we, the viewers are so cynical, that Brilliant But Cancelled has already started “DeathWatch – Fall ’06”. Some show called Happy Hour is sitting at the top of the list with 3:1 odds. With those numbers, it makes sense for Fox to concede defeat now. Just throw up a Simpsons rerun and nobody will know the difference. Yeah, that’s how bad it is out there.

The Washington Post starts the television season off with a gloomy prediction as well:

If recent history is any guide, about half of the 26 new shows that will appear for the first time this fall on the major broadcast networks will appear for the last time this fall. They will be vaporized just like last season’s short-lived losers, such as “Emily,” “Head Cases” (which Fox ran twice before pulling), NBC’s “Inconceivable” (two episodes) or CBS’s “Love Monkey” (three on CBS, before the show expired on VH1).

The Post also notes that many ratings successes are or were mid-season replacements (remember Seinfeld, anyone?). Others like, oh, The Office, are riding high due to what must have been very uncomfortable patience by programming execs (“Just one more week, I promise, someone will find it funny. Just one more week.”). What makes no sense is at all is the notion that there are programs that the suits know are dead on arrival. Why even bother?

This season, the networks are demanding untold commitment from their audiences. The trend is toward serialized programming (ah, Lost, what have you wrought?). It seems to me that if the networks are going to ask for a ring and promise of fidelity from the viewers, they should at least ante up with a fair shot for the programming. Either that or maybe stop with the fall season charade.

In the meantime, Nielsen won’t be capturing this, but the various ‘Loper households are all over Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip tonight.

2 Responses to “Playing For One Night Only: The Fall Television Season”

  1. Mike says:

    People in this country voted for an idiot for president and believe every one of his improbably lies.

    TV execs are going for this market. What I find amazing is that they seem to underestimate the tastes of even this booboisie ….

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