TV Squad Ten: What I would get rid of in television
Television as an industry is in need of a major overhaul. It's old, dusty, soiling itself, and not keeping up with the technology that changes from day to day. If it were an old, sick animal, or Larry King, it would probably be put to sleep. Alas, so many of us rely on the old biddy that it would be hard for us to say good-bye.
Luckily, I am a resourceful, intelligent and, dare I say it, gorgeous human being who has some ideas in mind to freshen up the television landscape. Yes, it may mean sacrifice from some of us (mainly network executives) and we may lose something in the process. But, in the end, the industry that we love to quietly despise while watching Cheaters will thrive once again.
1. The 22-episode schedule: The removal of the 22-episode series run has already begun, but it's not fast enough for me. With the cable networks breaking their seasons up into smaller parcels, the original concept of a fall to spring season is now archaic. Time to give viewers a true year-round schedule of original programming rather than a summer inundated with reality dreck.
2. Nielsen ratings: Back when only a few people owned television sets the Nielsen rating system probably made some sort of sense. With the population of the U.S. now surpassing a bloated 300 million, having a handful of "Nielsen families" determining how many people are watching a particular show is just ridiculous. Add the fact that many of us watch our favorite programs hours or days after they aired (thanks to DVR and the Internet) and the current ratings system is inaccurate as Bill O'Reilly. Toss it all in the trash and replace it with a more meaningful ratings system. Which brings me to my next point...
3. Sweeps: Three times a year the networks load their schedules up with new and flashy episodes of their series in order to wine and dine advertisers. Most of the time this takes up half their episode runs, leaving us fans with a very limited amount of new stuff to last the other seven months of the season. Going back to Nielsen ratings, can the networks really determine a proper price to charge for advertising when viewers are watching their shows via so many other platforms? Again, this is another antiquated practice that needs to be flushed down the toilet.
4. Network newscasts: I don't know if the three legacy networks realize this, but we live in a world of 24/7 news gathering. By the time Katie, Brian and Charlie say 'Good Evening' to us we've been inundated with news from the Internet, our cell phones, and the guy at the bus stop screaming about the microchip in his head. Fact is, we probably know more about what's going on in the world than the three evening news anchors do. I say move them all to cable outlets and give those 30 minutes to something more important. Like an extra run of TMZ.
5. Infomercials: Sometime in the past the concept of the infomercial was probably a good idea to fill time slots that really didn't generate a lot of viewership. Presently, however, these 30-minute commercials are just being used as an excuse not to air anything interesting at any time. I mean, when you see a Shamwow infomercial at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon you know something is wrong. Personally, I'd rather see repeats of According to Jim in that time slot than an infomercial.
6. Heavily edited movies for commercial networks: Why even bother anymore? With Netflix, On Demand, and 500 pay cable channels available, plus Turner Classic Movies, what's the purpose of slicing and dicing theatrical movies so they'll fit the puritanical standards of the commercial networks. What's even worse is, since the movie times have been severely cut down, the networks add a whole bunch of commercials to pad it out. Again, I'd rather see repeats of According to Jim in those slots.
7. Saturday morning cartoons: The networks try, but the Saturday mornings of sitting in front of the television while wolfing down a bucketful of Lucky Charms are long gone. Who really watches these shows when the Disney and Nickelodeon family of channels (and Cartoon Network) provide much better fare? The networks should just take the model they use during the week and load up the Saturday morning schedule with news and court shows. Maybe a court show where news reporters deal with their small claims suits.
8. Laugh Tracks (or, as they say in the industry, Canned Laughter): I don't think any crappy comedy has been saved by canned laughter. If anything, those shows are more painful to watch since the laughter is inserted into every unfunny moment that can be found. Honestly, having no canned laughter would probably help the shows somewhat rather than harm them.
9. TV show remakes: Okay, the remake of Battlestar Galactica was a hit. And, the return of 90210 made its mark. However, that doesn't happen with every remake of a classic television show. More than likely, the remakes are a pale comparison to the predecessors. Instead of thinking of ways to remake shows like Melrose Place writers should think about original ideas to submit to the networks.
And, one more to grow and inch:
10. Jerry Springer: Because, if you've seen one cat fight between lesbian, drug addict vampires from another galaxy and their alcoholic, transvestite baby daddies you've seen one too many.