Tuesday, January 31, 2012

23 Random Thoughts on Television

Because this is what happens when I read Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Tunes into TV.

1.
The average American apparently watches 28 hours of TV a week. I'm assuming this means the average American is not self-employed and owns Rosie the robot.

2. Everett will never experience the wonder of getting out of bed to be greeted by blessed Saturday morning cartoons. Of course, he will grow up in a world with about three or four 24 hour cartoon channels.

3. How many more months will it be before our cable systems announce the newest channel, 24 Kardashian ("Because You Want a Guarantee There Will Always be Crap on TV").

4. I've wanted to catch Alcatraz, because it looks like it could be a crazy weekly hour of sci-fi/fantasy TV. It might make up for the fact I totally missed out on the LOST craze, but I'm afraid the show might just turn into another catch the criminals series until the writers decide to throw in a smoke monster or a polar bear.

5. The M*A*S*H series finale is still the most watched scripted show in history despite it airing all the way back in 1983. Can that record ever be broken? I think it is possible, but it would have to be something that not only captures the imagination of several generations but it would need to create a feeling that it was "must watch TV" at the very moment it airs.

M*A*S*H had the advantage of being around during a time that network television was still king and there was a limited number of cable channels to choose from. It was also during a time that the VCR was still a relatively new product and the DVR was almost 2 decades away from even existing. You also didn't have the same level of other media to compete with such as the internet and more advances video games (video games were huge in the '80s, but they're even more accessible now). The competition was far easier, and it was more likely that the viewer would grow and get attached to a show (M*A*S*H had an 11 year series run). Network shows still garner the best ratings, but they don't get close the viewers they did in the 70s and 80s, because there is just so many more channels to watch shows on. Even if you had a show that captured the imagination like M*A*S*H, you'd probably have a huge group that would just either DVR it or track it down on the internet. Our society doesn't have the same "must watch it now" mentality unless it is a live sporting event (I'm assuming not too many people will have "DVR the Super Bowl and watch it later" parties).

6. I know some people complain there are far too may product placements and corporate sponsors have too much control over television. But currently on TV, we don't have news broadcasts controlled by cigarette companies that demand pro smoking oriented telecasts and end with a close up of a cigarette burning in a clean ashtray.

7. Imagine what the response would be if there was a "Very Special Episode" of The Office or How I Met Your Mother.

8. So, why the heck did I love ALF so much? I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that paste in Grade 1.

9. Based off the fact I'm still over a month behind on several of the TV shows that I've wanted to follow, I think I'm officially putting Hell on Wheels in the pile of permanently unwatched shows. Of course, I'm still willing to listen to last minute arguments to convince me this is a must watch show.

10. McDonald's has this new commercial where they go on about how they have 100% pure beef and how everyone loves some of that magical beef deliciousness (yeah, I hear vegetarians raving about it all the time). In this commercial they show a guy wolfing down a steak. A steak. Isn’t this unfairly raising expectations by showing someone devouring a juicy steak in order to sell their "well, they say this thin patty is beef" burgers?

11. Everett will grow up in a world where there won't be the "Network Television Event", also known as the cheaply produced made for TV movie that also is a failed pilot.

12. The Ropers, The Tortellis & Joey alert: There are serious talks of a Dwight Schrute spin off, where he works on his beet farm. This is exactly what The Office needs to take off one of its key characters so that he can go on a show that will be cancelled after 4 episodes.

13. It has been 35 years since the Roots miniseries captured the attention of the North American viewing audience and became an instant ratings juggernaut. Yet TV executives still hesitate about fully backing a show with a largely African American cast (unless it stars Bill Cosby -- which Roots didn't have, by the way).

14. Speaking of Cosby, he really needs to start to work on a sitcom pronto, because the '00s marked the first decade since the ‘50s that a Cosby network TV show did not grace the airwaves.

15. The Seinfeld finale was the '90s equivalent of Bobby coming out of the shower after Pam was dreaming for an entire season.

16. Of course, I say the above without ever watching Dallas and not have seen that Seinfeld finale since it first aired. I think the buildup is what made it a huge let down, and there is a chance I'd actually love it today.

17. A decade later and I'm still bitter Freaks & Geeks got cancelled after half a season.

18. I'm not a Trekkie but I also would never be one to downplay the amazing cultural significance the entire franchise has played. The original a series has one of the first ever onscreen interracial kisses (and the first lip to lip kiss between a white male and a black female). This is major considering just a few years prior there was an unwritten rule on network TV that blacks and whites interaction should be kept to a minimum (if allowed at all).

19. I still think The Arsenio Hall Show was one of the best talk shows ever. Now, I haven't seen it since it got canceled and I've been disappointed many times after rewatching once beloved shows (thanks a lot TeleToon retro for ruining my childhood), but I'm positive it was still hundred times better than The Chevy Chase Show.

20. In the '80s, my family watched Magnum P.I, on a weekly basis and I think my mom wanted to marry Tom Selleck's mustache. This is the reason that I actually thought that 1970's blockbuster superstar Burt Reynolds was actually a Selleck wannabe. Sorry about that, Bandit.

21. The Honeymooners may be one of the most well-known (next to I Love Lucy the most rerun during lunch) of all 1950s shows, but as its own series it actually only ran 39 episodes. A crazy fact you probably couldn't care less about, but I find that astonishing (though it used to part of several variety shows, and so I'm not sure if reruns come from those episodes as well).

22. The OJ Simpson trial was such a cultural touchstone that I remember our high school classes were interrupted so that the verdict could be announced. But it appears they read it wrong, because they said he was innocent.

23. What does Happy Days, Good Times, Family Matters, West Wing, Seinfeld, M*A*S*H, That 70's Show, Saved by the Bell, ER, and Friday Night Lights have in common? In each show, at some point aliens abducted a character and then erased their existence from the memory of every other character on the show. Of course, this scene was also left off on every single one of these shows.

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