Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Network TV

I can't quite remember when network TV became so tired. Oh, yes, I still watch THE GOOD WIFE and occasionally BLACKISH or THE BIG BANG. But I would never consider taping them. What happened to network TV. Are their hands held behind their backs by having to turn out so many episodes and heeding stricter content guidelines.Why are TV shows on HBO, SHOWTIME, AMC, FX, NETFLIX and AMAZON so much better? Are they handicapped by not using arcs.

Am I missing something I need to see on the networks? Do you still watch any of them?

32 comments:

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We do, but I agree most are less than exciting. If it wasn't for Jackie wanting to watch them, there are few network shows I'd be watching. I still like PERSON OF INTEREST - though of course it isn't on currently but will return later in the season - but the days of having to see something are behind us for the most part.

Jeff M.

PS - Actually, the best show we are currently watching was a network show - FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. We just finished Season 4.

Todd Mason said...

Well, aside from THE GOOD WIFE, a number of the more interesting big commercial network series of late have been staggered onto schedules...AGENT CARTER on ABC started its first season so well that it's remarkable how badly it fell apart by season's end, but I have perhaps foolish hope the second season will be better. CW's import DATE and ABC's THE ASTRONAUT WIVES CLUB were charming. And, sadly, there aren't really That many good series, as opposed to watchable, on the cable and streaming providers...Showtime has SHAMELESS and MASTERS OF SEX and to some extent RAY DONOVAN...all uneven, SHAMELESS least so, but after that trio we have PENNY DREADFUL which I would like to like more, and similar. HBO is currently worse off. But. of course, the big commercial nets are expected to still swing for much larger audiences, and have much greater FCC nonsense to cope with. It also helps that AMC, WGN America and the other cable stations often are juggling only a few series at a time, as opposed to dozens.

Todd Mason said...

And, btw, commercial network tv was AT LEAST this bad when it had no excuse, 1978-1985 particularly, and in stretches before and since.

Todd Mason said...

And, of course, some cable stations which are offering some wonderful series of late, such as Comedy Central and Adult Swim/Cartoon Network, also serve up some of the worst trash this side of Reality Programming and religious pandering/pahandling, frequently cheek by jowl.

Scott Parker said...

I still love CASTLE. BLACKLIST is just plain fun. ELEMENTARY is essential viewing. GRIMM is still going strong. BIG BANG THEORY is always good for a laugh. Last year, I started watching THE FLASH and absolutely loved it. Other than Castle, it's my favorite. SUPERGIRL looks like a blast. And I still love AFV although I'll reserve judgement on the new host as I loved Tom Bergeron.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Scott, if you're still on board with THE BLACKLIST and love THE FLASH, you'll probably dig BLINDSPOT, new on NBC, which is all but splitting the difference between those two,to judge by the pilot. MINORITY REPORT might do for you, as well.

Chad Eagleton said...

We haven't had broadcast television for a while. And I don't miss it. At all. Honestly, the couple of programs I do watch that are regular 22-episode network programs, I often find myself wishing weren't. I'd gladly take less episodes for more character focus, tighter story arcs, better continuity and consistency, and a lot less filler.

I think network shows suffer from a lot of problems. There's a clear reason why ratings that would have gotten a show cancelled less than ten years ago, now make it a runaway hit. First, they tend to fall back on the same old same old. Cop show, lawyer show, doctor show. And once you've seen one network crime/legal/medical drama, you've seen thirty. The same with sitcoms. Two, I think most network shows are still written with syndication in mind and based around the idea that you're going to tune in once a week. And that's just simply not how most people engage and experience a program or story. I'm often bored by filler episodes or put off by the pacing or even the payoff for overarching plots or simply annoyed when I catch a character inconsistency that's glaringly obvious when you watch three or four episodes in a row.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We still watch CASTLE too, though it might be reaching its sell-by date, and we watched BLINDSPOT. Not MINORITY REPORT, though.

Jeff M.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

I enjoy CASTLE, PERSON OF INTEREST and ELEMENTARY much more than I thought I would, but mainly catch up with other shows on DVD - is EMPIRE as good as poeple say?

pattinase (abbott) said...

EMPIRE is a top-notch soap. For better or worse. Good acting, good production values, good music-if you like that kind of music. Lots of intrigue. But at heart it is a soap.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I did like CASTLE but somehow I stopped watching it. Too many cable shows that eclipsed it. Maybe I need to go back and catch up. ELEMENTARY is on my list. I only saw the first one.

Todd Mason said...

The CW import (from the UK's Channel 4) was DATES, actually.

I see that AMC is not only definitely putting down HELL ON WHEELS, but is getting declining ratings for HALT AND CATCH FIRE, which is too bad.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I liked HALT AND CATCH FIRE but haven't tried SEASON 2 yet.

Richard R. said...

Barbara likes BLACKLIST and GRIMM, we both watch AMAZING RACE when it's on. That's about it. I wonder if TV was ever that good or if we just remember it fondly.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Phil likes to surf and watch MSNBC, Food shows, Anthony Boudain, that sort of thing. I like a narrative, but one show a night is about my fill. Right now it is Ray Donavon. We both like AMY SCHUMER though.

Dana King said...

The Beloved Spouse and I watch CASTLE on DVD a year behind (we discovered it late), and she's still enjoys, though I'm losing interest as we enter Season 7. Aside from that, I can't remember the last time I cared enough to watch a series on any of the four major networks. In fact, now that JUSTIFIED is gone and LONGMIRE on Netflix, we don;t watch any network programming.

George said...

No new TV shows appeal to us. We might try SUPERGIRL and CRAZY EX-GIRL FRIEND. The Networks are "playing it safe" with predictable comedies, predictable dramas (like the CSI franchise), and plenty of sports.

Deb said...

I just can't get into any network shows. The last one I followed with any fidelity was "Frasier" and I gave up on that before it went off the air. I think part of it is that I just forget days/times. It's easier for me to channel-surf my faves (TCM, HGTV, Food Network, PBS) or look for something on Netflix.

Anonymous said...

Very little of interest on network television. I hate most reality series, which seems to exist on to put people down and bring out their basest instincts. CASTLE I watch for Nathan Fillian, BLACKLIST for Jamnes Spader, and PERSON OF INTEREST for Jim Caviezel and Enrico Colantoni. I do like BLACKISH; it's smart and doesn't pander. Could never get into THE BIG BANG THEORY. I am looking forward to what Trevor Noah will do with THE DAILY SHOW and wish I had the energy to stay to watch Colbert on a regular basis. -- Jerry House

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, BLACKISH is very good...so far. But it's going to be difficult to keep it up given how prone to formula TV the networks are.

Kent Morgan said...

I will be back watching Scandal this week and maybe How To Get Away With Murder that follows it. I've lost interest in Castle as it "jumped the shark" last season. I do watch Blue Bloods and Madam Secretary if nothing else is on. I PVR some shows and usually end up deleting them without watching. I plan to give Blood and Oil a chance this Sunday as it's set in the North Dakota oil patch.

TracyK said...

We do most of our watching after the season is over, on DVD or streaming. BIG BANG THEORY is a favorite. But we do keep up with NCIS, PERSON OF INTEREST and ELEMENTARY as the shows air.

Todd Mason said...

And, Dana, you weren't watching network tv with JUSTIFIED (FX Cable) nor LONGMIRE (A&E Cable for the first three seasons) anyway.

Todd Mason said...
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Todd Mason said...
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Todd Mason said...

I'll admit that what got me to look at PERSON OF INTEREST, despite having little patience for most/essentially all J. J. Abrams confections, was the casting of Sarah Shahi and Amy Acker. Any production canny enough to snap up these two, the former particularly underrated despite doing good to brilliant work in the likes of LIFE and THE L WORD, was worth a look.

Todd Mason said...

As with MASTERS OF SEX, as HALT AND CATCH FIRE moves away from being a veiled retelling of the Compaq Computers story in the second season, it stumbles just a little (less than MASTERS has, though the the most recent episode of that series was pretty brilliant) over becoming less directly historical drama. But it's still good. But apparently not so popular.

seana graham said...

If by network you mean the former big three, then I mostly agree with you, although I do manage to keep up with Grimm. But a little further out on the dial I like Jane the Virgin, Orphan Black and Mr. Robot. And I'm sure more will come my way. There still seems to be way too much on when it comes to getting other things done. I watch some PBS stuff and news though.

Margot Kinberg said...

I almost never watch network TV, I must admit, Patti. And that's precisely why...

Chris said...

I still watch a few network sitcoms here and there, and Stephen Colbert has been brilliant taking over from David Letterman on the Late Show (and of course Colbert developed his talent on cable first). But yeah, network's creatively dead, and has been for quite a while now. I include all the broadcast networks in this. I find CW only marginally more interesting, and too oriented towards juvenalia.

I think the more creative people usually go to cable, and the other thing is that the networks have too many layers of executives overseeing the work. There needs to be some input from the network, but the cable networks are a lot less top-heavy, and tend to leave most of the creative decisions to the people they hire.

The biggest problem for the networks is their high overhead. Cable shows only need to appeal to a small audience, but the broadcast network shows have to pander to the LCD.

The big networks can always try to hire some hot cable showrunner, but they tend to wither on the vine there--it's the wrong environment.

Our tastes have gotten more specialized, and the networks can't keep up anymore. The comparison with dinosaurs is obvious, but apt.



David Cranmer said...

I'll use Longmire as an example. Seasons 1-3 were good but not exceptional television. Season 4 and the move to Netflix: superb show. Reason is they were not constrained by time elements.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I was pretty disappointed in the wrapup of the Branch death. Dragged on too long and too much exposition. Hope it picks up with Ep. 4