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The Five: Things I'd change about TV if I was in charge

by Bob Sassone, posted Apr 4th 2006 1:35PM
Barker and his beautiesEvery once in a while, we here at TV Squad give our opinions about what we'd like to see/not see on television. And since last week was my one-year anniversary here, I figured I'd give my current list:

1. Bring back game shows. I don't mean a syndicated game show or a game show/reality show like Survivor or American Idol, I'm talking about real, honest to goodness, daytime game shows on the networks. The Price Is Right is the only one left, and the rest of the schedule has been taken over by the likes of Maury Povich, Dr. Phil, The View, Starting Over, and a third hour of The Today Show. Wouldn't it be great to just dump all those shows and bring back a Card Sharks, a Concentration, a Blockbusters, a High Rollers, a Sale of the Century. Hell, I'd watch Match Game again over Jerry Springer.

2. Bring back TV theme songs. What's up with that, anyway? Instead of theme songs, we get just a couple of quick notes (or, in the case of Lost, one long ominous note - but at least it works with that show). What has happened to the TV theme song? We've had some great ones: Mission: Impossible, The Rockford Files, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, Happy Days, Peter Gunn. The list goes on and on. Now it seems the nets want to squeeze in as many commercials and ads for their other shows as possible. Ugh.

3. Show classic TV shows on the networks, not just new stuff. Again, I'd rather see this happen than have another lame reality show added to the menu. Imagine that NBC, instead of having another so-so, short-lived sitcom at 8:30 on Thursday, would show reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show? On the same night as The Office and My Name Is Earl. That would be cool (note: yes, this is impractical, but this is my TV universe).

4. Ban Paris Hilton forever, limit the number of times Law and Order can be shown, and give Dick Cavett a talk show again.

5. Give us that technology promised years ago: that we'd be able to get, on demand, any movie or any episode of any TV show ever made, just by choosing it from a menu on our TVs. ER is a repeat again? I think I'll watch an episode of Riptide from 1984! Nothing but reality dating shows on late at night? Hey, I think I'll watch Something So Right from the mid 90s!

But that last one is probably just a pipe dream.

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If I'd change TV, I'd cut down on the amount of shows copying American Idol. I've seen too many pseudo talent shows copying American Idol's format, even down to Simon Cowell's critical and angry rants. Fame, Superstars WB and even a revised version of Star Search all flopped and they never came back. Look, American Idol is what people like, hands down, and they won't watch anybody else! They expose the good and lousy singers and viewers will watch it in droves! Some of the best singers and talent have come from that show and now people are buying their major label albums like crazy! ABC has this new show coming out this summer that's copying Idol's familiar style, and it's too much of the same.
And game shows are a hard sell these days in daytime. You have to win them the first time out--otherwise, they won't be loyal to them. I think that Pyramid with Donny Osmond flopped its second, because people were tired of seeing celebrities blurt the clue in the final 60-second round. Just blew a chance at winning $10,000 or $25,000. You don't know how many times I was screaming at the TV when it happened! And people prefer Dick Clark hosting Pyramid--that's the only person they like. They make game show sets now to look like a rock concert with the strobe lights and fog, not the campy '70s style of Price is Right and their orange and red colors. Millionnaire and Deal or No Deal are very much like that.
I think that the TV networks are this way now because they want to stick with their annual favorites. They pass off on substance filled shows and fill them in with tired third rate reality shows, repeats of Law and Order and CSI, and some very dumb sitcoms.

June 03 2006 at 2:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


I know that I don't reside in the US, but gosh, we do get an awful lot of your so-called comedies and what not infiltrating our terrestial and cable stations over here.

I would love to see "The Dick Van Dyke Show" re-run. Where are all the comedies that portray an intelligent man sometimes making idiotic mistakes, as we are all prone to do? All we appear to have nowadays are idiots behaving like idiots. Where's the surprise in that?

Bring back the intelligent man/woman in an everyday situation making silly mistakes, that's what I say.

Take care

April 06 2006 at 6:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris Wyant

I remember several years back, USA would show a variety of once-successful (and not-so-successful) sitcoms on weekday mornings... I think Something So Right was one of those, so was Ned & Stacey, Working (loved that show!), Major Dad, Caroline in the City, Wings, and they would rotate the lineup every now and then. It was fun to be able to vege out and watch these (mostly) funny shows.

April 05 2006 at 8:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you're talking classic TV shows, then top of the list has to be...The Fugitive with David Janssen. AOL IN2TV is showing Fugitive episodes from 2000-2001, but none from the old series.

April 04 2006 at 7:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My addition to the list is do away with the six commercial break 1 hour show and bring back the four commercial break show. Watching Gilmore Girls now is horrible because they have to do this short scenes in order to break for commercial. A few older shows refused to adopt to this new standard and it's so obvious when you are watching them. I read an article in USA Today on this but I'm sure it's also about syndication too. Notice how shows are chopped up differently when they repeated on USA, TNT, TBS, etc. I just feel like as soon as you get into an episode we go to 3-4 mins worth of commercials. This has to be one of the biggest mistakes that networks did if you ask me.

April 04 2006 at 6:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brent McKee

I'll add: Bring back quiz shows. You know the sort of thng I'm talking about, What's My Line, I've Got A Secret, and of course To Tell The Truth. I'm talking a show with intelligent celebrity panelists. I'm talking literate erudite hosts who are capable of intelligent banter on a variety of subjects with panelists and guests. I want the modern equivalent of Bennett Cerf chatting amiably and wittily with the modern equivalent of John Daly while the modern Arlene Francis or Kitty Carlisle-Hart looks on slightly vexed.

Oh yes and I want an intelligent talk show on a major network (not PBS) where authors of serious books rub elbows with movie stars, and there are fewer jokes and skits an more talk. But you covered that with wanting a talk show for Dick Cavett (I'd even settle for Tom Snyder).

April 04 2006 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unfortunately, with the increase in the amount of minutes devoted to commercials, many shows have dispensed with the theme song/opening sequence in order to have as much time as possible for the actual show itself.

April 04 2006 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Kimble

I sorely miss regular daytime game shows. Bring back more upbeat games where you want to identify with someone as you root them on win. So many of the current "reality" shows are hateful, encouraging the viewer to hope for someone's failure. And since Millionaire, any game show set has to have a black backdrop and literally use smoke and mirrors (the Pyramid revival showed how ridiculous that could get in the name of being "current" and "cool"). Bring back the brightness and the upbeat sense of fun.

In this context, Deal or No Deal has to be the lamest excuse for a successful game show ever hatched. It's 100 percent guesswork and pumped-up drama, and plays more like a beefed-up bonus round of some other game like High Rollers. NBC won't be able to sustain that for a full hour over the long haul because there is no real challenge or test of any kind.

Yo, networks, here's some incentive to revive a classic daytime show: remember how the celebrity-oriented shows used to be great promo platforms for your prime-time series?

Speaking of which, GSN's "Match Game" reruns have been a staple of my TiVo ever since I got it 3 years ago ... It's still friggin' hilarious! But how could you do that show today? It absolutely relied on the censorship of the time -- there was practically an unspoken rule that you couldn't give the answer you'd like to on those double-entendre questions!

Fox did a pilot in summer '04 for a revival with Fred Willard as host that sounded promising despite the proposed name change to "What the Blank?" Has anyone seen that or know why it didn't sell? Willard is a funny enough guy and would seem to have been worthy of carrying witty Gene Rayburn's skinny microphone.

April 04 2006 at 3:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All Hail Bob Sassone for Network TV President!

I am totally on point with you about your plan. I swear if I see one more Jerry Springer or Maury Povich show (even by accident), even for just a tiny second, I am going to lose it!!!

I am known in my circle for my love of TV and the only thing that keeps me from sinking into the depths of depression is the fact that "Family Guy" came back from cancellation. I truely don't care who can survive on an island (with the crew tent filled with food not too far away), nor do I need to see another "Bleeping redneck, bible thumping, white trashed individual" from "whatever" reality show. (Doesn't really matter which one, they all have them on at least one episode).

And Bob, while you are at it, could you give all "Law & Order" and CSI shows their own network, (Spike TV doesn't count)

And could you also make movie channels completely commercial free and also "free free" as in no charge to watch them. (does anyone remember "ON" TV? that was only a few dollars a month and no commercials).

Oh yeah and while you are at it, could you possibly bann the medical college, injury lawyer, tech school and healthcare commercial ads from daytime tv - they are really annoying!

Thanks for listening.

April 04 2006 at 2:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would put some Anime and Foreign Dramas (British or Aussie) on during the summer months. You could target a market perfectly for ads.

April 04 2006 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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