Has network television given up?

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by bencasey, Jun 13, 2007.

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  1. bencasey

    bencasey New Member Thread Starter

    I was thinking about this the other day. In the fifties, the networks offered up many great live, anthology dramas with Playhouse 90, Kraft Television Theatre, Westinghouse Studio One, Armstrong Circle Theatre and many others. The Golden Age of Television. In the sixties the anthologies had died out but then we got the age of the great socially relevant shows like The Defenders, East Side West Side, Slattery's People, Mr. Novak and others of that ilk. The seventies and eighties brought the great miniseries, starting with QBVII and continuing with Rich Man Poor Man, Roots, Holocaust, Centennial, Winds of War, War and Remembrance and dozens of other great and long adaptations of novels. While there was always a majority of pap to go along with the important stuff it seems now that the networks have thrown in the towel and given up. They don't even program Saturday night anymore. What do they actually put on the air now that can be considered noteworthy? I'm not talking about entertainment value, although that can be debated as well, but I'm talking about programming that is significant and thoughtful. Or have they just stopped trying to make anything of any importance and just said the hell with it, if the morons in the audience want bug eating, we'll give them bug eating.
  2. The Panda

    The Panda Forum Mutant

    Marple, PA, USA
    Kind of.....I think they really think everyone is a ***** and are programming things that way. The intelligent shows often never seem to find an audience for a variety of issues (casting, wacky plot turns, etc)
    The bumper crop of reality shows is, for me, just an extension of all the talk shows that covered our sets with slime 10 years ago, so I don't think it'll last forever. Besides, the networks always try to milk things until they are totally devoid of meaning and intelligence.
    However, there is always a youth demographic to be pandered to, and a lot of us are way over that curve. There will always be shows with overwrought teenagers who look fantastic and wear next to nothing, spouting inane dialogue about things that were earth-shattering when you're 15-17.
  3. Parnelli

    Parnelli New Member

  4. Jay F

    Jay F New Member

    Pittsburgh, PA
    This season, one great drama, Kidnapped, and another not-so-bad one, Traveler were ignored by viewers. Kidnapped, as good as it was, was ****canned after five episodes.

    Basic cable network FX does some of the best dramas I've ever seen, Tuesdays at 10, with repeats throughout the week. The new season of Rescue Me starts tonight. Can't wait. I like this more than all the others on FX. Too bad Kidnapped hadn't started life there.

    Since Traveler and Rescue Me are both on at 10 tonight, I'm gonna watch Traveler and tape Rescue Me.
  5. phish

    phish the house that jack built

    Biloxi, MS, USA
    the best shows on tv (in biloxi, ms) come on HGTV.
  6. Rachael Bee

    Rachael Bee Miembra muy loca

    Network TV has just become a cesspool of mind manipulation. Remember when investigative journalism meant investigating the government or corporate bullies, mostly. Now it's about entrapment of men for being horny or the details of obscure murders. I quit watching Battlestar Galactica because all the shows mirrored earth's news. e.g. - suicide bombers, ect.

    The network's have just become propaganda mongers and hype machines. The list of shows worth watching is exceedingly short. Even those shows are hard to tolerate live because of the commercials. I Tivo the few.
  7. Marty Milton

    Marty Milton Well-Known Member

    Urbana, Illinois
    There is way too much competition to capture the TV audience. Up until the mid to late 70s, there was basically three networks. It wasn't until the early 80s that cable started to become so popular. Besides competition for TV viewing, we can now watch episodes of programs on the computer and iPods. Many people don't even watch TV, just wait until the series comes out on DVD. There is so much more technologically, than there was 40 and 50 years ago.

    Speaking of great live dramas from the 50s and early 60s. A lot of those dramas appeared on TV before they became movies. Marty, Days of Wine & Roses, Requium for a Heavyweight, to name just a few from my ever-eroding memory from that time.
  8. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Network TV has always been governed by a Least Objectionable Programming philosophy (LOP) that has, of course, changed from decade to decade depending on the public's fickleness. As others above have noted, there are a number of different outlets that compete for our time and entertainment dollar these days - also hundreds of stations instead of the 4 or 5 many of us had when we were kids. Still, I think the best stuff on TV these days is among the best that's ever graced the medium. The networks haven't "given up," but they are evolving to a rapidly changing marketplace.
  9. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    RDK, I got yer back! When we can get fare like Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Gilmore Girls & 30 Days in one season, it's hard to say they've stopped trying. It's just that they have to temper their budgets nowadays with [IAmerica's Bingo Night[/I] because years of lesser teevee have, well, whittled-down the tastes of Americans. Ya gotta have someplace for the dolts to go too! It's too bad that for every Olbermann there are 6 Kara Phillips', but the audience can eventually find what they want, even if they have to resent all the stuff that's not for them.
  10. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    And believe it or not, my "insider" at ABC insists that the upcoming Geico Caveman show (which has been ridiculed here and elsewhere) is actually quite good - and not what you think it might be. She's been known to have good taste and I've learned to take her word for such things.
  11. crimsoncing

    crimsoncing New Member

    virginia beach
    Maybe they have not trying so much as viewers have moved else where. My 3 favorite shows were canceled (Studio60 and Stargate SG1) The out cry from viewers gave one of them back from the dead (Jercho). I find myself spending more time in front of the computer and when i do watch TV its basic cable shows. I love Mythbusters,Kathy Griffth etc etc....

    Its cheaper to make "reality" shows now and when they do invest time and money into quality shows, they need them to pay off a lot faster these days. They also have narrowed these shows down to a sure fire subject. Doctors, Lawyers etc etc.....

    Look at the Law and order shows or CSI. They find something that works and then try to do it over and over again. Sometimes this works (CIS0 but most of the time it tanks.

    I do wish we had more quality stuff and when they do create a show like that I make a point to watch it at least for 3 or 4 shows before i decide to hate it or love it.

    I am not sure but I think i just made the argument that the network did give up!!!!

    I do miss the days of Buffy and The West Wing.
  12. Jay F

    Jay F New Member

    Pittsburgh, PA
  13. bencasey

    bencasey New Member Thread Starter

    I think a few people didn't really get the meaning of what I was posting here. It's not a matter of quality vs drek. It's a matter of shows that SAY SOMETHING. Historical miniseries about slavery, world wars, the holocaust, the history of this country. Shows dealing with prejudice, abortion, integration and dozens of other social and societal issues. Exactly which shows now have anything to do with these things? Gilmore Girls? Battlestar Gallactica? I don't think so. This isn't a thread on good shows not existing but exactly where are the shows that mean something? A million shows about solving murders doesn't really teach anything.
  14. Edwin Hawley

    Edwin Hawley Forum Resident

    Okobojo, SD
    Once you start watchin', there's just no stoppin'
    Your brain shuts down, then your IQ's droppin'
  15. Jay F

    Jay F New Member

    Pittsburgh, PA
    The last show I remember liking -- and that happened to be socially relevant -- was I'll Fly Away in the early '90s, about a Southern lawyer named Forrest Nathan Bedford, his son Nathan Forrest Bedford, his other two children, and their maid Lily and her family, as the civil rights era began in the early 1960s. Even though the fictional Bedfords were good to Lily on most fronts, Nathan Bedford Forrest happens to be the name of the founder of the KKK.

    NBC gave it two good years, and cancelled it rather than going in and changing it in any substantial way, which I appreciated, even though we only got to watch it for two years. What a great two-year it was, though. It always seemed to be the show the storytellers wanted us to see, sans suitnotes.

    I wish they'd bring it out on DVD.
  16. Rachael Bee

    Rachael Bee Miembra muy loca

    Ben, I think I addressed your thread topic but not in the most direct manner possible. It has ceased to be about making anything socially relevant. It's about manipulating oppinions. I started collecting videos, Laserdiscs then, with some inspiration from Frank Zappa's words...."I'm the slime ooouzin' from your TV set...." It just keeps getting thicker, don't it!

    It's become about supressing social relevance. Why do you think ABC fired Bill Maher? Because he was relevant...? That would be my opine!
  17. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Deep Maryland
    Haven't we enjoyed a golden age of sorts with all those HBO dramatic series: SOPRANOS, DEADWOOD, THE WIRE, ROME?

    And while we're probably now numbed to its virtues through over-exposure to its formula, LAW & ORDER would have been the best show on television in most any other era: topical, realistic, well-crafted.

    And while long in the tooth, we're still getting SIMPSONS, FAMILY GUY and SOUTH PARK, in terms of animated classics.
  18. Rachael Bee

    Rachael Bee Miembra muy loca

    Some of us don't get HBO. I should, it's the only really good channel. I've had it before. I miss Bill Maher but a friend gives me tapes of most of the show. I make her a DVD of it and give 'em back. I see the show and we're both happy campers.

    I can't talk sense into this friend. She could get a DVR from Crumcast and never miss Bill's show but no-oooo. She's the last true lover of VeeHhhSss'sssss'. She just can't quit, she goes against my, Dr. Hazel Nutt's best medical advice. What's a docteur to do? :p

    I hate giving more $....I should get HBO again but I'll proably wait till Bill Maher's next season. Yes, that's it, it's a new rule!
  19. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Fair enough, Dr. Casey. But, I use as example, programs that speak to us despite the marketplace reaching out further to the game-show crowd, and by rich characters, DO tell us something about the human condition. Galactica, for example, certainly does try and say something about ethics in desperate times, mob rule, and the survival of civics. The satire of The Office seeks to show viewers the same thing Archie Bunker did three decades ago. Sometimes fiction is an excellent educator.

    Don't try and tell me there aren't excellent series arcs that do attempt comment on prejudice, integration, abortion, the role of church in our lives (and others'), compromise's fallout, challenging the system, accepting one's legacies, political allegories, awareness of the media's effect on its' audience, the march of progress versus the abandonment of our weakest...AND the amount of programs dealing with these topics WHILE themes like "the wacky neighbor" and "deus ex machina solves the problem before the credits roll" are on the wane! I'm telling you, the era of "relevant" teleplays you revere - no matter which era you choose - all had their share of "very special episodes" full of false sentiment, stunt casting and laugh track.
  20. 905

    905 Forum Resident

    Southern IL
    Too many reality shows today that are pointless... Back in the old days, you had shows like All in the Family. For instance, take the episode where Archie is afraid he ate bad mushrooms. In the middle of the comedy, you had Archie and Mike arguing about Ralph Nader and seatbelts.
  21. Taurus

    Taurus Well-Known Member

    Houston, Texas
    You mean "deep thinking" shows? Those aren't FUN though! They aren't HAPPY! And they hardly ever feature beautiful people with clear complexions, buff bodies and straight white teeth. Not to mention they use lots of vocabulary words - yuck!

    [/sarcasm off]

    I don't know if anyone else thinks this, but IMO PBS is also dumbing down their programming. Lots less science and other "geek" programming like they used to have. Even NOVA is starting to succumb to this by using more and more of the same type of garish and distracting special effects the majority of the Discovery Channel's programs wallow in (exception: their show from their Science sister channel called "How Its Made" just started appearing here a couple months ago. Without trying to sound sarcastic, for this 42 year old, it is truly a relief to watch an image sit still for seconds at a time so you can actually understand what's happening).
  22. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    ...well there is a few good ones...

    Boston Legal
    Desperate Housewives
    Prison Break...
  23. RDK

    RDK Active Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    I happen to thing that Battlestar Galactica does address those things.

    As for the lack of "historical" and "important" miniseries, I think they're there too, but the dynamics of the business has changed and many of those types of shows you've mentioned have moved on to cable and other outlets. Or they're addressed in less overt ways: again, using BG as an example. TV shows, overall, are more open now to address issues of racism, abortion, and other societal ills that were prohibited before except in the "classy" miniseries. So there's less of a need to highlight those issues in an often heavy-handed program that may exist only to address those issues.
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