The TV Addict (left) with J.J. Abrams at FRINGE’s launch party, August 2008
BEFORE: Friendships were destroyed, plans were broken and sporting events were left early as TV Addicts everywhere desperately attempt to get home in time for the say, the WHO’S THE BOSS/GROWING PAINS series finales. True Story.
AFTER: TV shows start when YOU want them to! Heck, 20 minutes late if possible so that one can easily (Note to advertisers, stop reading now) fast-forward through commercials.
BEFORE: The internet was reserved for the original biggest losers: tech savvy
nerds early-adopters who spent the better part of their evenings debating the relative merits of STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES versus STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION.
AFTER: Those biggest losers have morphed into one of NBC’s only ratings bright spots, the tech savvy early-adopters are now internet billionaires, while the internet is the gift that keeps on giving. Allowing fans to watch their favorite shows at the click of a mouse while providing them with a virtual community in which to discuss the relative merits of THE SIMPSONS versus FAMILY GUY (Okay, so not everything has changed!)
BEFORE: Viewers were in essence powerless peons whose value to networks were measured by one, well two things: Their eyeballs.
AFTER: Thanks to the internet — and by extension social media such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, blogs, podcasts, and Whedonesque — viewers have been given a powerful bully pulpit in which to be heard. And oh yeah, networks are listening. Just ask the casts of CHUCK, DOLLHOUSE and JERICHO.
BEFORE: Next to the infomercial, reality television was once considered television’s lowest common denominator, relegated to lowly cable networks.
AFTER: While still relatively inexpensive to produce, reality television now hangs over a network schedule like a Sword of Damocles. Where a new comedy or drama has about two weeks to attract an audience. That or risk getting yanked off the air for the next WHO WANTS TO MARRY A TOP UNDERCOVER SURVIVOR IDOL which is patiently waiting in the wings.
BEFORE: We passively watched television.
AFTER: We immerse ourselves in it. Watch, re-watch, analyze, discuss, attend conventions, scream at our television as a Bon Jovi performance delays the unforgettable post-Super Bowl ALIAS episode until almost 11pm eastern, and repeat. For better or worse, ALIAS and LOST transformed network television drama, providing audiences with dense mythologies and unforgettable characters that have had an immeasurable influence on many shows since (See: FLASHFORWARD, THE NINE, FRINGE, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, DOLLHOUSE to name a few.)