TV Blues

I’m a TV geek. I kept every copy of TV Guide that came out since I was nine years old.  I couldn’t wait for the TV Guide Fall Preview Edition.  I used to make a conscious effort to watch (and tape) at least the first episode over every new

But this summer I gave away all my TV Guides to the Los Angeles County Library. I forgot to buy the TV Guide Fall Preview Edition. And this season, for the first time in my life, I seem to have no interest at all in the new fall shows.

I don’t know whether it’s because I’m too busy or if the shows themselves just aren’t that captivating. Or is it the serialized nature of most of them — and an unwillingness on my part to make the committment?  Or perhaps it’s the knowledge that most of the new shows will be cancelled — so why bother? — and I’ll get Emmy DVDs of the ones that survive.   Or maybe there are just too many shows on too many networks and not enough hours in the day to watch them all.

The point is, I’m just not watching. And I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. 

The only new series I’ve seen are SHARK and STUDIO 60.  I’ve got a bunch of others clogging my Tivo…but I doubt I’ll get to them before they are  deleted to make room for new stuff I won’t watch.  But like the rest of America, I’m keeping up on most of the shows I was watching before…like LAW AND ORDER: SVU, BOSTON LEGAL and GREY’S ANATOMY… and I can’t wait to see the new season of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

So have I changed…or has TV changed?

12 thoughts on “TV Blues”

  1. Both, probably.
    All I know is the hotel where I’m staying Friday night doesn’t have the Sci Fi Channel, and I won’t get home to my TiVo until the 9th. I don’t know what I’m going to do about BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

  2. Last year, I didn’t watch a new show, I just stuck with my favorites. This year, there were lots of great new shows I wanted to try out. But I just haven’t gotten a chance because I’ve been sick yet again.
    Maybe it’s just this year and next year you’ll feel differently.

  3. TV has changed.
    Shows nowadays are packed with characters and story arcs that seem to wander on without giving the audience so much as a hint of what’s going on. You can’t jump into a show mid-season anymore, and even if a series is halfway decent the network will go and cancel it four or six shows in WAY before it has had a chance to build an audience.
    Networks are skittish these days — so afraid of failure that they jump the gun and start dropping the hatchet early, or even worse, move promising shows to time slots when most TVs around the country sit idle.
    NCIS and THE UNIT are my favorites so far (I know…they’re not new) and I will be watching BSG this Friday…but hey, I like DR. WHO and MIDSOMER MURDERS too. Maybe we can learn something from the Brits.

  4. I don’t watch all that much TV when it’s actually on TV, although I have picked up more than a few complete season box sets of shows that I like/love and enjoy watching them that way. The new Battlestar Galactica is the only contemporary show that I have purchased, all others are from an earlier time in my life. Perhaps it’s a nostalgia thing, or maybe it’s because very few of the new shows interest me in the least. But I will be checking out season three of BSG, but that is the only show I’ll be watching. There are better ways to waste my time, I think.

  5. We have a similiar problem in the UK.
    ITV aired a 90min show called “The Outsiders” last night. It was touted as the high concept show for the 21st century and was meant to be ITV’s contribution to the resurrection of family TV viewing that dear old Doctor Who started.
    The pre-show publicity described it as a cross between “The Avengers” Danger Man” and “The Prisoner”
    I was determined to give the thing a chance but it was hard work watching it. It was a 1960s concept shot in 1970s style with a 1980s plot.
    Increasingly I watch shows like this and start thinking that was 90mins of my life wasted that I can’t get back. I have better things to do.
    Where’s the innovative entertainment gone?

  6. I think it’s easy to forget that TV is back on again.I think I got out of the TV watching mode when the days got longer and warmer and now I’m not ready to settle in. I’ll watch Grey’s Anatomy and maybe The NINE but there is no ‘pull’ to get me back in the TV room again.

  7. I think it’s easy to forget that TV is back on again.I think I got out of the TV watching mode when the days got longer and warmer and now I’m not ready to settle in. I’ll watch Grey’s Anatomy and maybe The NINE but there is no ‘pull’ to get me back in the TV room again.

  8. I can completely relate to the appeal of the TV Guide fall preview issue. I used to really look forward to them. Its funny that I was just saying this to my mother.

  9. Unfortunately, TV has changed and the change has not been a good one.
    I can’t bear to watch the CSI type shows because most of them are pretty absurd. Other shows just insult the intelligence of viewers.
    Gee Lee, you’re in the know. What’s happened to TV? Do the networks present guidelines for you guys to follow when writing new shows?
    I’ve always been a little curious about how much of a writer’s creativity is allowed on screen.

  10. I agree that it’s likely a little of both — my wife and I watch LOTS of TV, and there are only two new series that we’re even trying out. Most of the new series look to be uninspired, pointless, or destined-to-be-cancelled. And we know that if there’s a gem we’re overlooking, we’ll likely be able to Netflix it by this time next year.

  11. Whatever. Look at all these cynical people. Ever since Lost hit the scene TV had been steadily improving. This season has already give us several promising shows to the point where I’m having to make serious decisions about my dish passes.
    But if you don’t watch anything else this season, don’t miss Heroes and Friday Night Lights. They’re the best of the new crop, hands down.

  12. Hi, Lee.
    I don’t think you or television have changed all that much. It’s just that as we all mature, we become much more selective. Our learning experiences have taught us what and how to look for those gems, those diamonds in the rough, so to speak.
    For instance, I can remember a time when I was growing up that I looked forward to every fall season with unbridled anticipation (that’s how much of a TV geek I am). I picked out those shows from the network schedules that I thought held promise of something new and exciting. Most of the time, the ones I picked never lived up to the hype. But back then, series ran much longer than they do now, so I didn’t notice as much. Now, I realize (from my experience) that most shows, even the inventive and original ones, won’t make it past two or three months, much less an entire season. So I don’t get as excited ahead of time.
    Mind you, I’m still a TV Geek. Like you, I also saved every TV Guide from the time I was 13 (1972) until just two years ago. I stopped collecting it for different reasons, though: the listings had become so erratic and incomplete (our local newspaper had more complete listings, and that’s not saying much), plus I found that it just wasn’t the same magazine I grew up loving to read. The last issue I bought was the 2004 Fall Issue. Shortly thereafter, the magazine went to a large-format, and the listings become even more incomplete and “generic.” I have all of them boxed up in my attic (I have all but about 150 issues that date mainly from the mid-1950’s). I don’t consider it sad or unfortunate that my collection ended at that time. It’s just that TV Guide became something very different and much less important to me.
    As for television in general, I’m still a pretty avid watcher; I’m just much more selective about what I choose to watch. It’s funny that despite the fact that there is so much more television currently being produced in comparison to the days of only three channels, one still must hunt (sometimes pretty diligently) to find the good shows. My wife and I would probably only go out of our way to tape or watch just a few programs, notably “Lost”, “Gilmore girls”, “Boston Legal”, “Monk” (kudos to you, Lee), “My Name Is Earl” and “The Office.” One of our absolute favorites of all time was the wonderful “Arrested Development,” and we were very sad to see it end prematurely. We also try to catch as many “Seinfeld” and “The Simpsons” reruns as possible, as we consider them nearly perfect representatives of their respective genres.
    What we wouldn’t watch may be more telling about our tastes. There is so much JUNK on nowadays. In short, the list would probably require more webspace than the Internet could handle. I hope it goes without saying to most bloggers that most any “reality” show is considered so far below bad TV that mentioning their titles would contaminate the air and space in which we live. Many are either loud or boring or contrived, with abosultely no resemblence to anything “real.” Enough said about that utter tripe.
    Even so-called modern comedy “classics” such as “Friends” are, at least in my humble opinion, nothing more than cookie-cutter jokefests with little or no regard for character-driven comedy (yes, I know I’ll get angry responses for trashing “Friends,” but there we are). For example, just pick any joke spoken by one character on “Friends”, and any other character on “Friends” could say the same joke and get the same result. In my opinion, that’s NOT writing, it’s collecting. Writing comedy involves SO MUCH MORE than just stringing crude jokes together to pad out 25 minutes. (I think EVERY comedy writer could learn a thing or two from Larry David’s wonderfully convoluted teleplays for the sublime “Seinfeld,” a worthy successor to “The Honeymooners”). And don’t even get me started on the shrillest of unfunny sitcoms, “Will and Grace.”
    The only positive thing I can say is that scripted drama seems to be mounting a comeback of sorts, primarily due to a rising backlash to the “reality” invasion of five or six years ago. More inventive dramas, some destined to become future classics, now populate the channels, “Lost” and “Monk” among them. So everyone, please seek them out.
    Sure, both myself and television have changed a lot over the years, but I think (and hope) that that change is for the better.


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