Dispatches From The Couch

Is it just me, or have the networks thrown in the towel?

NBC has decided to dispense with original programming in the 10 p.m. slot five nights a week in favor of a Jay Leno-hosted chatfest. Many nights, you’re more likely to find a reality show than a scripted program on at least two of the five major nets. Same-week reruns liter the schedule. And quality programming — think DAMAGES, TRUE BLOOD or RESCUE ME — are more likely to be found on cable.

Worse, many of their upcoming offerings stink of flop-sweat. Take MOMMA’S BOYS. Please. Take it, and don’t come back. Or the latest incarnation of THE BACHELOR, in which a single dad seems ready to turn his son’s future well-being into fodder for a reality show on which past contestants have exhibited truly attrocious behavior.

Across the board, network numbers are down. But perhaps they have only themselves to blame. After all, they’re making it easier and easier for us to watch the shows they’re offering at our leisure. We can watch on-line, or wait until the end of the season and purchase the shows on DVD. We can cruise on over to iTunes, or Hulu.com or AOLvideo.com or… well, you get the picture. Suddenly, Must-See TV has morphed into Will-See-When-I-Get-Around-To-It TV. And of course, the current ratings system is tragically flawed, perhaps broken beyond repair.

In this struggling economy, when more people are staying close to home and turning to their televisions for cheap entertainment, shouldn’t the networks be responding with original programming as opposed to reruns and reality? Are we really going to settle for BAD GIRLS CLUB and A DOUBLE SHOT OF LOVE, or will we instead use our televisions to play the latest Wii game?

In the end, that’s up to the networks. If they show it — and “it” is worthwhile programming — we will watch. Heck, if ACCORDING TO JIM proves anything, it’s that we’re not necessarly even going to hold the networks to the whole “worthwhile” thing.

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  • tim w. in tx

    I agree. NBC going chatfest at 10 is so ‘throwing in the towel.’ It’s like airing only one soap. Oh, it does. lol As for the tv shows, the better ones are on cable. I refuse to watch most of the reality crap except for survivor and amazing race. The granddaddies of them all. As for the rating system, Neilsen needs to be updated with the times.

  • I don’t know if some networks have given up or if they don’t even know what the right move is anymore. Last night’s BL finale was brilliant but ABC ran that show into the ground. FOX cancels shows before they’ve had a chance to breathe. ABC tries but they still ave a bottom line. We’re past the days where shows build up an audience.

    Plus, the cable networks are able to produce fewer shows with more downtime in between shows. It breeds better writing.

  • One of the things I heard about was that NBC would try and switch to the cable model of shortening the length of a season, allowing it to filter newer programming year round, which would be a welcome change.

    NBC has been losing money, and didn’t want to lose more to someone they help create (FOX and ABC giving Jay a 11:30p spot would have probably been doom for NBC late night and Conan – Not saying he couldn’t hold his own, but still).

    NBC will have to come up with something brilliant around this move, as for the next year they will be saving money, but if they only have a few hours of original comedy/drama programming, then they will spend a lot of their time promoting stars from other networks. The peacock also just reshuffled everyone at the top, so it’ll be interesting to watch the station in the coming months!