The past decade of television has offered some of the best shows to ever grace the celluloid small screen. Critics and fans agree that shows like LOST, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, DEXTER, 24, THE WEST WING, HOUSE, DEADWOOD, THE WIRE, and THE SHIELD were among this “golden renaissance” era; and they paved the way for shows like THE GOOD WIFE, BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN, DAMAGES, JUSTIFIED, HOMELAND, LUTHER, SONS OF ANARCHY, SHERLOCK, and DOWNTON ABBEY. These are just a few of the multitude of extraordinary shows that sprang up in this creative climate when studios and television viewers were willing to embrace shows that were a little more cutting-edge and outside-the-box than television of years past.
However, that “hey day” seems to be slipping away. It is getting harder and harder to get television audiences to checkout and stick with television shows that are considered “thinking” shows. Back at the height of their popularity shows like HOUSE and LOST commanded 24-27 million viewers. But that was several years ago. LOST fell to below 10 million viewers when it ended its run, and HOUSE is limping out with a weekly average of 6 million viewers. Creatively, these shows have been strong from beginning to end. Instead, what happened was viewer-fatigue. Shows that last more than 5 years are a rarity on television today. There are the procedurals that are still going strong, but as popular and well-done as they are, these are not the type of shows you think of when you hear the phrase “smart TV.” They are along the lines of “safe TV” – well-crafted and consistent, and they resolve their weekly stories in easy fashion.
As much as pains us to consider it, shows like THE WEST WING and LOST would fail miserably in today’s television climate. Why? Because viewers are tired of shows that make them think that hard. [Read more…]