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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here

http://www.tiscali.co.uk/media/images/galleries/celebrity/statesidesuccesses/medium/5_mcshane_wenn5127365.jpg

This news confirms, for the millionth time since the advent of the medium, that network television is no place for attempts at higher-brow programming.

It's not that Kings was some amazing, can't-miss show whose passing the world should mourn. I only saw one episode, and it was at turns laughable, interesting, and weird as hell. But the show, for whatever its detriments, was trying something. Hell, it was trying to tell the story of the kings of Israel on network television, which is some kind of undertaking. Misguided, maybe, to think that the network suits and audiences would get behind something like that for long, but a laudable gamble.

And, for someone trying to break into the medium, it just goes to show that risk-taking on network is not the way to go. It reminds of something I heard a while ago -- OK, it was yesterday, on KCRW's show The Business. On it, some writer for the late (finally!) ER (you'll have to listen to it; I can't remember his name) was protesting a bit too much about the limits -- or, in his opinion, lack thereof -- of network TV. No one watches cable, he said. No one in the heartland cares about shows like Mad Men -- it's a coastal phenomenon, he claimed. ER had numbers rivaling All in the Family and M*A*S*H, and network TV is still the best place for drama and the best place for the public to go watch television.

I sincerely fucking doubt those claims. Or at least, I doubt the spirit and overall validity of those claims.

Let's face it -- network TV plays it safe. Got a hit like CSI or Law and Order? Why not make few spinoffs that are exactly the same? It's not that the aforementioned offerings suck, it's just that they're boring and more of the same. It appears, like it has so many times in the past, that the networks are simply not interested in putting out thought-provoking and interesting fare.

It's not the cable networks are infallible, either. It's just that they seem to have a slightly better handle on newer models of programming. You don't have to have a star who wants a million dollars an episode and huge budgets -- you just have to get some people who want to be a part of something good.

I don't know. It seems that the networks are giving up. I just hope the places that have been outlets for good TV over the past few years -- HBO, Showtime, AMC, FX, and so on -- don't give up as well. At least not until I get a show on there.

1 comment:

david james keaton said...

you put Al Swearyswearsalot up there and i think you're gonna write about Deadwood. bait and switch! much dishonor.

and answer your emails or know your mortality