Thursday, August 15, 2013

I'm sad about my networks

My 4 year old son had a phase in which he would say, at times, "I'm sad about my friends." After some probing, we figured out what he meant by this. He meant that he missed his friends, that he was sad not to be with them, that he hoped to see them again soon.

That's how I'm feeling these days about TV -- I'm sad about my networks.

It's now reached that point in the fall TV season (and, trust me, there is still a fall TV season, despite industry claims to its elimination) when I've sampled pretty much everything and have whittled down my options, settling into something of a regular line-up of shows to continue watching. It's not lookin' good. At this point, I can only think of two new shows that have achieved "season pass" status (in TiVo parlance, even though my main DVR is--sniff--no longer a TiVo). And neither of these shows is a favorite, by any means. In case you wonder, they are Privileged, on the CW, which I like for its smart, plucky protagonist, but which isn't so great on the whole, and Raising the Bar on TNT, Steven Bochco's new lawyer show, which I think I like mostly for the retro feel of it (the man DOES know how to write a lawyer show, after all), even if I find the sexual and gender politics rather retro, too. Since I'm a few episodes behind, I'll reserve further comment on that, but I do have some thoughts I'd like to share eventually.

There is certainly other competent fare on the nets these days. I thought The Mentalist and Eleventh Hour both work as procedurals with slight continuing character arcs and the charms of Simon Baker ALMOST convinced me to keep watching the former, but no. I thought Worst Week was sort of funny, and the same for Kath & Kim, which I know is heresy given the massive pan it received. But, again, no real desire to watch more of either.

I do still plan to watch at least one more episode of Easy Money, which has a somewhat new premise in its check-cashing place setting, and I think Valentine, also on the CW, is worth watching here and there for its hyper-corny Love Boat appeal. But, on the whole, I'm really sad about my networks. Other than fun reality competish shows like The Amazing Race, Dancing with the Stars and--looming in the new year--Idol, the broadcast nets just aren't bringing it.

And don't get me started on what makes me sad about the daytime soaps.

My favorite shows of late have all been on cable, and have all recently concluded or are finishing up their seasons--Project Runway, GH: Night Shift, and Mad Men. (Oops. There's also Friday Night Lights, another fave, being brought to me by Directv in advance of its NBC run next year. This show is fabulously back to season 1 greatness. But again, it wouldn't have been if just on NBC.) I don't want to be one of those high falutin' types who turns my nose up at the broadcast networks. (OK, probably not much danger of that as I continue to watch Dancing and Idol.) But I really think they ain't what they used to be, those networks. Maybe I have changed as much as have they, but I am fond of much TV and just can't get excited about any of those nets' new shows. This comes on top of last year's strike-shortened season, in which I ended up taking on very few new series, as well. Even those series that have survived since then only achieve half-hearted liking from me. If it weren't for the amazing wardrobes, jewelry, and those Chuck and Blair moments I don 't think Gossip Girl or Lipstick Jungle would be showing up on my Now Playing list at all.

As I continue my ongoing project of dubbing my VHS collection to DVD, I can see that the network TV of yesteryear had so much more appeal. Today I dubbed a favorite episode of the short-lived Herskovitz/Zwick Relativity and recently I've been transferring some mid-'90s GH (Claire Labine years, for those in the know). Shows like those could really make a person love TV.

Now I'm really sad about my networks.

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