The State Of TV

EnlistedWell, it has happened again.  One of my favorite new shows is being killed by Fox’s scheduling.  Classic Firefly, show the episodes out-of-order, destroying any chance for serialized narrative to grab an audience, bump them repeatedly, making sure anyone tuning in casually forgets they are on, then announce the remaining episodes will be shown at some later time TBA.  I will keep fighting for you any way I can, but, Enlisted, I fear our story will be a short one.  If you readers will indulge me I feel the need for another rant.  Join me after the jump for a discussion of the state of network TV.

It is a telling feature of online TV journalism that an entire genre is the “Shows That Were Canceled Too Soon/Save One Show” polls and articles.  Telling for network TV that is.  With a business model where well over 50% of any new product roll out is expected to fail, well you have to wonder what’s sustaining it and how.  And if it is viable in the long term.

I’ll admit right off the bat that there is often a strong sense of Schadenfreude when a show that threatens to replace a favorite of yours goes down in flames (yes, I’m thinking of you Undercovers) but it isn’t about any hostility toward the cast and crew.  More often in fact a lot of the distress we feel over a canceled favorite show is that we won’t get to spend any more time with the lovable but flawed knuckleheads on Enlisted or Happy Endings or Chuck or Wonderfalls or, well you get the point.  And there is also a great deal of investment in the actors on our part.  Geoff Stults, Parker Young and Chris Lowell need to be on TV, they are too good not to have a show where they can be seen on a regular basis.  And someone as good as Geoff Stults shouldn’t be forced to bounce from show to show season after season only to have the next one canceled after a single season (much like Adam Baldwin before Chuck).

So a new favorite of mine, Enlisted will likely be joining the ranks of Firefly and Wonderfalls and Keen Eddie and a few more, badly missed and gone before their time, but treasured so much more for the little we were able to have.

Since this post has little to do with anything other than venting I thought I’d toss in a poll to see what other people are watching and to maybe have a bit more discussion that ranting about how much broadcast TV’s model sucks for new shows.

Below is, as far as I was able to determine, the present TV schedule for the 5 broadcast networks with shows no longer on the schedule but not canceled tacked on to the end.  Pick as many as you are watching, DVR-ing or catching on iTunes, Amazon, OnDemand or Hulu since they all feed in to the networks and studios revenue streams now.  There is also a write-in option for any shows I missed, but basic cable and subscription shows were left off for a reason.  There are too many for me to put into a poll in any reasonable amount of time, and this is about the broadcast networks business model.

Have fun.

~ Ernie

 

 

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About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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62 Responses to The State Of TV

  1. joe says:

    I added CBS’s Elementary as “other”, mostly ’cause it seems to be shown semi-regularly these days. I’m also watching TNT’s Perception (with Eric McCormack) – that's not a broadcast network, but the show's schedule is really, really odd. It's on hiatus now too.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks Joe. The way the networks schedule now I knew I was bound to miss a few. And yes, cable is a wole ‘nother matter.

      • revdr says:

        To be honest Ernie; the ending of Chuck changed the way I view tv. I don’t get as invested as I once did in series for fear of being disappointed in a finale or an abrupt cancellation. I still have what I consider “regulars” but I remain detached. I find that I can still watch and enjoy a series without having that “aww man” feeling if I don’t like the way it ends. I watch How I Met Your Mother for instance, and I even look forward to next Monday’s series ender, but I not honestly don’t care about the outcome. It makes it easier to not be mad about what happens.

      • Duckman says:

        Hey Rev- it’s like you read my mind. I was lucky with finalies for years, I had gotten a job and was working eves by the time Dukes of hazzard ended. West Wing came through in the end. Charmed tried the big dramatic battle finalie and succeded as opposed to not. I remember hearing the rants about the Sopranos finalie and feeling a little for the fans, wondering it it would happen to me. It did, in spades. Even before Chuck, the half ass sqeduling, abrupt cancelations and exessive advertising had driven me to dvd’s for anything I gave a crap about. The very same issues with regard to dvd releases eventually led me to hold off dvd purchase untill the entire series was out on disc. When I quit Chuck live, I said to myself aloud “screw this, I’ll wait till they cancell the damn show and watch the dvds in peace”. If the suits want my money, they’re doing every single thing completely backwards.
        And they wonder why they’re struggling.

  2. atcDave says:

    How’d you miss Elementary?!

    The ways of broadcast television has been a source of frustration forever. It used to be even worse prior to DVRs, a network might change the schedule of a struggling show and you’d loose track entirely. At least now, when they burn off those last few episodes we’re less likely to miss it entirely.
    But as we’ve discussed many times, I sure would like to see more shows get made in full season chunks. Nothing is more frustrating than hearing a favorite show is being shut down before an order is complete.
    Of course show runners have some responsibility on this too, I’ve seen many shows end a season on a cliffhanger, then never return. That is irresponsible and disrespectful of viewers.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      As Joe said, it must not have been on the TV schedule or ratings I compiled this list from. I also managed to get “The 100” in the poll twice initially since they re-ran the pilot on another night apparently.

      Cliffhangers do serve a purpose, and it’s not entirely cynical. It does have the cynical aspect of wanting to make the show hard to cancel, whether it has any effect or not, but it also serves to keep viewers invested and to come back next season, and I don’t think that’s illegitimate or a bad thing.

      Granted, when a show sees the writing on the wall they should make some effort to make the one bit of the show we got a satisfying one right to the end, and Chuck, perhaps to it’s detriment, was pretty good at tying up the story at the end of the season/series. They had enough practice after-all. But it also makes a show a lot easier to leave between seasons if you aren’t curious about what happens next.
      Other Guy, Honeymooners, Ring II, Push Mix, and Cliffhanger all could have and perhaps did serve as a satisfying end to some.

      So while I do largely agree with Dave, I don’t begrudge shows on the bubble a bit of cliffhangerishness in the final episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think cliffhangers are always a lousy way to end a season. Its magnified for a bubble show.
        And I guess since I dislike cliffhangers regardless, I think its a poor way to end a season even for a show that is doing well. But they seem to have an opposite from intended effect on me; they tick me off and make me more likely to delete the series!

      • authorguy says:

        Tie off most of the plot threads, and leave a few hooks to build the next season off of, that’s the way I’d do it (and did it). The arc should never be left incomplete. I remember a series of Star Trek novels I read where the author had two stories running side by side in the same volume, but only one would get completed in any book. It felt like I was being blackmailed to buy the next story.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I certainly won’t begrudge you that view, but I think like a lot of tropes in the TV writer’s toolbox they’ll get used without a lot of thought about their actual versus perceived effectiveness.

      • authorguy says:

        Odd thng about tropes. After a while they get to feel like pre-fab constrruction, but sometimes, as in the season we won’t mention of a show we all love, they are the actual substance of the story that the writers are failing to tell. There’s a reason they became tropes, after all. Sometimes they get abused as a shortcut by a lazy writer, but sometimes the power of the trope can save the day.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie and Marc; yeah I’m not sure if there’s any actual statistics or science behind the effectiveness of it. And writers being artistic types, it probably wouldn’t influence them even if there was (!).
        I do know a sizable number of viewers who share my view on this. But obviously that’s anecdotal only. And may just prove I have a lot of cynical friends.

      • authorguy says:

        Not sure how artistic they are. They have to provide a script at a dead run, that’s why they use the tropes to minimize the work they have to do. A good writer builds on the trope, a bad one substitutes the trope for real story telling.

      • revdr says:

        I think it helps if you know that a series has a definitive end. Shows such as Chuck, Fringe and How I Met Your Mother were given the opportunity to finish on their own terms. It’s the newer shows that you risk getting invested in without knowing if they will be given a chance to grow. I too liked Wonderfalls and Tru Calling, but just because a show might be a critical success, there’s never a guarantee that it will stay on the air. There are a few exceptions; Cheers being a great example, but they are very few and far between. It has become much to easy for network executives to pull the plug much to early in a show’s run (Family Guy, anyone?).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        One of the things I loved about Chuck was their ability to simultaneously use tropes effectively while simultaneously acknowledging and mocking the trope. It is one of the reasons I fell in love with the show, they were including me in the joke.

        Now in season 3 it became a bit problematic, both in a bit of over-use and partly because a large part the audience had turned on TPTB for their direction and wasn’t willing to laugh along with them.

        Community is another show that manages to simultaneously use effectively, acknowledge and subtly mock TV tropes because they have a character perfect for showing the audience the man behind the curtain.

      • authorguy says:

        The tropes that were the meat of S3 weren’t comic tropes, and the writers didn’t do anything to put a comic skin over a very un-comic story. The audience was left with a very dramatic tale that they weren’t prepared for, on top of all the other flaws of S3. If network shows had more lead time, with a sizable chunk of the story written before it went to production, as Babylon 5 did, they would find it easier to avoid formulaic, trope-ridden plotting.

      • revdr says:

        I’m not sure that I would say that cliffhangers are bad, especially if you know you’re getting a run at another season; but to end a series that way is another matter. With Chuck for instance, it would have been really bad it Ring had ended the series; with Cliffhanger (even though the Morgansect thing had me scratching my head), not so much, if only because I knew we were getting a final 13. I’m not a big fan of ambiguity either. I always thought that stories should have a beginning, a middle and an end.

      • atcDave says:

        Occasionally a cliffhanger can work when a resolution is known to be coming. But that “occasionally” has become routine, and I find it a very tiresome routine.

    • authorguy says:

      One of my favorites was Tru Calling, cancelled in mid-season with the bad guys on the march. Terrible way to go. At least Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies were able to close most of the plot threads, although I wish PD had allowed the two lovers to touch each other at last, it could have been done easily. Dead Like Me had potential for a vast story, but again was clipped. At least they had a movie to tie off the plot, like Firefly did.
      I can’t take your poll, I don’t watch TV anymore. Learning a schedule is too much bother, and who wants to wait, once the story starts. I see all my shows on DVD. Eventually I’ll see Bones season 8, or finish Dexter. The last regular show I watched (on Hulu) was the pilot of Intelligence, but really, I’m just too busy writing my fanfics to waste time on something like TV.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I believe Wonderfalls only got 3 or 4 episodes aired. It was only on DVD and now on Amazon or Netflix (not sure which) that they got to wrap it up, and that was by design of the creator well before they were canceled.

      • authorguy says:

        They were cancelled by episode 4, but they were still shooting the end of the season, so they rewrote the script to tie off most of the plot. I was a bit surprised they left the Reservation episode where it was (since it doesn’t tie into the final arc in any way), but I realized it was meant to put paid to her occult career, with only one final fling to put her life in order. Brilliant work, considering it was done on the fly like that.

    • Duckman says:

      Funny you mention cliffhangers- Star trek tng was big on season ending cliffies. I detested them so much I would refuse to watch. My buddy the trekie would tape (gasp) the season ender and when the next season premired we’d throw a big party and watch the taped ep just prior to it’s conclusion. Stupid cliffhangers…

  3. Theresa says:

    Personally I found Chuck my guilty pleasure in TV watching. I have also invested much time and effort into that show. I have found that Castle is my number one show now. It has many similar themes as Chuck. I also like the Mentalist though I fear that story is about to end. I enjoy Once Upon a Time both incarnations. I’m sad that the time in Wonderland is about to end. I do not see it getting renewed. I still enjoy CSI which is the grand daddy of all the recent forensic procedurals. I really enjoy Person of Interest. It also has a bit of Chuck overtone to its themes too.

  4. DKD says:

    I know you wanted to keep this manageable and only include scripted broadcast shows, but I also watch:

    Suits (USA)
    Justified (FX)
    Walking Dead (AMC)
    Helix (Syfy)
    The Voice (unscripted-NBC)

    In April, I will add in Orphan Black (BBCA), Game of Thrones (HBO), and Mad Men (AMC)

    Recently ended shows that I enjoyed: Downton Abbey (PBS), True Detective (HBO).

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Oh I don’t object to sharing our non-broadcast favorites in comments. It was just that with basic cable and/or the subscription channels you are looking at another, what, 10+ networks? That’s just more than I’m willing to take on. Besides they aren’t as oriented around prime-time as the broadcast networks.

      I also catch The Americans, Justified, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, and Sons of Anarchy (though I’ve sort of given up on that last one) in fits and starts.

      I don’t really watch any un-scripted TV, though I will confess to an odd fascination for Dancing With The Stars that first summer it aired. But I can’t dismiss the possibility that it had something to do with a certain soap star and former Playboy Playmate and her wardrobe rather than who won the competition.

  5. Some of you may have read the debate I got into with Arthur (@AgeMMX) over Chucks cancelation (you can find it on the Chuck Movie post) and it was because of the exact reasons brought up in this post!

    The state of network tv is rather upsetting nowadays! I loved firefly too (Chuck has fast become my all-time favorite show) and was outraged that fox mis-handled such an awesome show! For the record I hate the Nielsen ratings system, it’s very flawed for today’s “on the go era of tv” doesn’t count streaming or digital sales and is instead based on an unfair ad:viewer ratio. Most people in 18-49 demo are consistently on the go and using mobile forms of tv viewing which if included in ratings calculations would’ve spared many short lived or syndicated and then prematurely ended tv shows. I.e Chuck, Firefly, Awake, The Event, Heroes, Go on, Prison Break, Veronica Mars, Nikita etc (isn’t it ironic that most of these great shows were on NBC).

    Now before people rebut my statement about Nielsen, let me state for the record that my statements are strictly an educated guess based on what I think should be common sense in today’s era of mobile tv viewing, I certainly don’t pretend to know how TPTB run network tv, it’s just an educated guess and I’m sure I’m not the only one one who believes the shows I listed (especially Chuck, Firefly and Veronica Mars) shouldn’t have been canceled.

    • atcDave says:

      Oh we’ve certainly been all over the various Nielsen issues in our discussions here! Among the challenges for Chuck was that our audience was on the older side. That is definitely among the reasons I like the idea of on demand or pay per view. Let the bottom line be a paying audience; not my hair color or how close I am to retirement.

      • Exactly I’ve never seen the correlation between 18-49 and more revenue it’s bogus! I’d rather have a smaller but consistently steady fan base like supernatural or Chuck, if it’s surge in popularity is any indication I really think people would watch it regularly if brought back and as for supernatural it’s 9 seasons in and gives the CW it’s most consistent ratings(I’ve watched it from day 1). Harry’s law was also a very good show, popular in total viewers I watched it every week and naturally it too was canceled:(

    • DKD says:

      “For the record I hate the Nielsen ratings system, it’s very flawed for today’s “on the go era of tv” doesn’t count streaming or digital sales and is instead based on an unfair ad:viewer ratio. Most people in 18-49 demo are consistently on the go and using mobile forms of tv viewing which if included in ratings calculations would’ve spared many short lived or syndicated and then prematurely ended tv shows.”

      The Nielsen ratings system does what it’s designed to do by the people who pay for it–networks and ad agencies.

      It DOES include streaming and Video on Demand IF the ads in the streaming and VOD are the same as aired on broadcast. Why? Because the ratings are used in a financial transaction. When buys are made by an ad agencies, the buy goes into a computer system. Later, the ratings get plugged in to show how many potential viewers the advertising schedule got.

      They don’t want it to include streaming that doesn’t have the ads they purchased time for with millions of dollars. Their clients would fire them. They don’t want it to include people who don’t watch the ads within a certain amount of time either. That’s why they only look at “C3” ratings now.

      You may hate it, but the Nielsen ratings system is designed to count viewers to ads, not viewers to programs. The only people who have input into what it’s counting and not counting are the people who pay money for the data.

      And streaming that carries different ads does get counted. It just gets counted separately because it is a separate buy sold by a separate company.

      It’s also an exaggeration to say that Adults 18-49 are the only demo they look at when they make renewal decisions.

      • Sure the only other thing that factors into renewal is syndication potential it’s just stupid that they separate the ratings into demo groups, to me the total number of people watching should be used in combination with everything else but it always takes a back seat, why should one age group be considered any less valuable than the others?

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I’m no fan of the Nielsons because of what they tend to do, and have done to the network’s decisions on TV shows, especially niche shows (something readily acknowledged by the network executives in the piece DKD posted below) but that does not mean they are obsolete. It is the network business model that I believe is obsolete, and I think the networks have recognized that it has to change.

      The key is that we think of ourselves as the customers. In the network business model this isn’t true, we’re the product being sold to the advertising buyers. That is why as DKD lays out, the Nielsons probably aren’t going anywhere until the networks move away from advertising sales as their primary income stream. In the subscription model we are the customer, but not in any of the advertising supported models.

  6. DKD says:

    I think you might find this interesting. It’s from a 2002 article in the NY Times Magazine where they sat down some broadcast executives to talk I’m picking it up in the middle where they talk a bit about how they think about canceling shows or keeping them on:

    “ALBRECHT: But if you think that it’s really funny, and if you like Larry David, why wouldn’t you put it on and see what happens?

    ZUCKER: I think we should keep on programs that we think are terrific that don’t necessarily have a big audience to begin with. But I think we can also have a gut as to whether it’s ever going to find that big audience.

    MOONVES: The old days of sitting with a 9 share because it’s going to grow to a 15, those days are over. We’re in a 500-channel universe. The die is cast in six weeks. You can make a move or two and see if it has a shot. But you know pretty well.

    ZUCKER: That’s the difference between our universe and HBO.

    Never Another ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’

    ALBRECHT: So you think what happened with “Everybody Loves Raymond,” where it built over time, couldn’t happen even now?

    MOONVES: Exactly. We were a 12th-place network at the time “Raymond” was on. It was Friday night, 8 to 9, where we were dead anyway. Then we flipped it a couple of times, and it showed some life. Unfortunately you can’t have the patience for the builds anymore. In your ideal world, where I have all the money in the world, and I don’t have a corporation looking down on me, maybe I could be more patient.

    ZUCKER: Especially when you’re at a network that is having some success, I don’t believe that it’s possible for a “Cheers” or a “Seinfeld,” both of which languished in their youth, to happen today. It’s a shame. Comedies take time, and they have to find their voices and get their legs.

    MOONVES: Ironically, networks that are doing a lot worse can be a little bit more patient. “Raymond” may not have lasted on CBS today because we’re doing better than we were six years ago.

    ZUCKER: Which is why, actually, it is possible for a network that’s down to eventually come up.

    MOONVES: But it takes longer than it did before. A lot of times people say, “Why’d they cancel that show so quickly?” We have our reasons. We’ve seen the next five episodes. We’ve seen the producer running around losing control of the show, having no good scripts.

    ZUCKER: Absolutely right. We have more information than the audience.

    MOONVES: Sometimes you say, “My God, I could leave this show on for 12 years — they’re not going to know where the bathroom is.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/03/magazine/30EXECS.html?action=click&module=Search&region=searchResults&pagewanted=3

  7. CaptMediocre says:

    Sllepy Hollow

    More later

  8. gatesoutcast says:

    The shows I listed in my poll picks I watch through Netflix( always behind a season) or through the internet. I am an old guy and I do NOT watch TV, but use my computer. The TV rantings system is well I hate the word OLD, so as a Star Trek fan I will say obselete! Ernie I will probably watch Enlisted in a few months on Netflix and then be sad when it disappears. “The Cape” a show of 14 episodes that I found on Netflix was also a lot of fun, but the networks canned it quickly.

  9. 40 plus years later and I’m still getting over the cancellation of the original Star Trek series mid-mission.

    Especially if you read Marc Cushman’s – These Are The Voyages – an episode by episode recounting of the production of each one, in 3 Season Volumes. Volume 1 is out. Volume 2 will be out soon.

    The myth of Trek having poor ratings as the reason for it’s cancellation are busted. The show did very well in it’s time slot – admittedly just a three horse race back in those days.

    Right now, I watch:

    Elementary
    Sleepy Hollow
    The Big Bang Theory
    Hannibal
    Arrow
    Castle

    Just finished – True Detective – which was OK and over-praised – mainly due to the show’s pedigree IMO.

    Watching Helix – but it’s a train wreck – more out of curiousity to see how it ends this season.

    Looking forward to Orphan Black and GOT returning.

    One I keep missing and want to watch is the new Cosmos.

    Sampled and dropped a lot this year. It’s cool though – have more free time to devote to other hobbies – sim racing, video gaming in general – especially story driven ones like Beyond Two Souls. Great game with great acting, story, and music. Like an interactive movie. Some hate that style of game. I love it.

    • Duckman says:

      Chuck- the interactive video game, I’d play that

      • Hell yes!!! That’d be cool, 3 person co-op Casey handles security and heavy gunfire, Chuck uses Kung-foo and various other intersect skills and hacking in tandem with Sarah who also does most physical combat and stealth via knife throwing! That’d be a blast!:)

  10. Shows I currently watch (please note this is a combination of streaming and live tv)

    The Big Bang theory -ALWAYS
    Supernatural
    How I met your mother (Netflix)
    Bones (Netflix)
    The Blacklist
    Parenthood
    Breaking Bad (Netflix)
    The Office (Both live [2011-13] and Netflix) -ALWAYS
    Chicago P.D
    Chuck ( Live S5 and Netflix) -ALWAYS

    Naturally I watch many 90s shows through Netflix but since they’ve been off-air for 10+ years, there’s no use listing them.

    Also note that ALWAYS indicates syndicated tv reruns and/or DVDs in addition to streaming:)

  11. CaptMediocre says:

    I don’t know what to think about the state of TV. The ROI in Hollywood must be horrendous.

    I mean last Tuesday, NCIS (which is about 26 years old) started to spin off NCIS – NO. I give it 6 episodes before it’s pulled.

    I tried to watch Intelligence. I lasted 1.5 episodes. The Marg Helgenberger (sp?) character on that show is atrocious.

    Sleepy Hollow is my new guilty pleasure. It’s easily one of the more quirky shows on TV and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

    Person of Interest has really maintained a high level of story telling over the past 2 seasons.

    For me it’s simple, a show has to have 1 or 2 (or more) likeable or relatable characters. If you take my favorite character and turn him into a d**k, I’m done. Honestly, Hollywood ‘s obsession with anti- heroes baffles the crap out of me.

    I also sometimes wonder if we all wouldn’t be better off if shows were 30 to 40 episodes (more or less) then done. 1 to 2 seasons to tell your story.

    • atcDave says:

      I do enjoy a lot of the more episodic type shows that can run for a very long time (like NCIS, although I have finally dropped that one).

      But I agree exactly with a lot of your criteria. I have to be able to respect and like at least one of the major characters; and I don’t do anti-heroes.
      My biggest guilty pleasure then would be Grimm. Between Nick, Hank, Monroe and Rosalee there’s no shortage of clearly heroic major characters. And yet there’s also a couple of more ambiguous characters and a very messy political sub-story. Its sort of the perfect mix to be interesting and fun.

      • Theresa says:

        I do enjoy Grimm. I still disagree on keeping Wu in the dark.

      • atcDave says:

        I thought they did a good of job of looking at both sides of that. I think I also would lean towards telling him, but I’d have a lot of concerns if he can handle the truth!

      • I’m a sucker for the underdog rising up stories like Chuck and good versus evil like, supernatural or Charmed although with these I like it when the ending is peaceful but isn’t achieved without some kind of cost, I feel like it’s unrealistic and too predictable if everything ends perfectly! Honestly I think that is why I love Chucks finale so much, it was realistic because the spy world is dangerous and no one would’ve expected Chuck to end with a price, yet it still ended peaceful for Charah and evil was thwarted!:)

      • atcDave says:

        Because reality rarely ends tidy is exactly why I prefer it in my entertainment. If the writer can’t do any better than reality, why did I waste my time with it?
        Seriously, if things are going to end all twisted up I would rather read, or watch, straight up history.

      • That’s all well and good for straight up comedy but with dramaedy I’m usually cool with anything except the killing off of the lead couple:) (seems like there’s a lead couple in every tv show) wait til we get to the finale discussion I have a boatload of thoughts on it:)

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Honestly, Hollywood ‘s obsession with anti- heroes baffles the crap out of me.

      Two words. Tony Soprano.

      In all seriousness I think they just re-discoverd a rich vein of drama, the tragedy. From the Greeks through Shakespeare dramas about the protagonist’s downfall through hubris were common and popular. We’d been missing those in popular entertainment for quite some time, so I think it’s only natural that their re-discovery led to an obsession for a while. I think we’re largely through it now and people are looking for the next thing.

      • atcDave says:

        There has always been a mix. If there wasn’t, it would make more uplifting stories passé. But dang it’s been bleak the last decade or so. It’s really tough to find decent characters I can respect and root for.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        That may be the case in movies, but I’d contend that it was something new for TV. Pulling off an SOB who can remain somewhat sympathetic or at least interesting enough to keep people coming back each week, even as he destroyed his life and all those around him was something new to TV.

        I could be wrong, but Alan Sepinwall wrote a whole book on it. But if anyone can give me an example of a Tony Soprano/Walter White type of anti-hero show before 1999 I’ll reconsider my position, but I still think we have Tony Soprano to thank for it.

      • DKD says:

        Sepinwall’s book “The Revolution Was Televised” is a very good book about TV.

  12. Angus MacNab says:

    “Honestly, Hollywood ‘s obsession with anti- heroes baffles the crap out of me.”

    Hear, hear! Harumph!

  13. DKD says:

    I actually think the state of TV is fine. I only watch stuff that I consider good and there is no time of year where there isn’t more on my DVR than I actually have time to watch. I work long hours and I have a good social life outside the home. I’m constantly dropping good shows from my viewing queue because I just don’t have time for them.

    • atcDave says:

      I think its dismal. The quantity of new programs is pretty good, but good protagonists are so out of fashion there is painfully little that interests me.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I think the state of TV is good but gives cause for concern. There is a lot of great TV on right now, but the current situation where new shows have virtually no grace period to shake-down and find an audience is killing a lot of potentially great shows, and I think that puts the quality at risk.

      • atcDave says:

        I would agree with saying the technical quality of modern television production is very good. But I think the overall mood of too much of what’s made is too bleak.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Given your tastes I’m not surprised by your opinion. I’d just suggest, depending on your tolerance for occasional adult-tinged humor, that Enlisted might be something like what you look for. The characters are all decent people who like each other, are presented sympathetically and affectionately with depth and personality that rings true, and who genuinely try to do good and be better. The same could probably be said for Brooklyn Nine-Nine if you aren’t watching it. Given what you look for I’d suggest you at least give them a try.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay I’ll check them out.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        With the caveat that one season of Enlisted is likely all we’ll ever get unless Fox behaves very uncharacteristically.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I understand, since that’s sort of what started this whole topic!

        I’ve got a couple shows like that; Firefly, Brisco County Jr, Police Squad… Fun shows that ended too soon. At least in this day and age we can re-watch them whenever we want.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay I just watched this week’s Enlisted. Very funny show! I’ll definitely watch whatever’s left.

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