TV Beat by Guy McKenzie
TV Beat written by Guy McKenzie is a sometime column appearing when the networks release new shows or when they cancel good ones. Guy McKenzie is a well know television critic and has been Watching TV regularly since the days of tubed TV. Mr McKenzie has been a big screen as well as small screen actor, co-hosted Two More Guys at the Movies with his long time side man Guy Spelvin.
Are you like me?
I used to always look forward to the start of a new television season in anticipation of what new TV shows were going to be produced and shown.
It was like watching the networks throwing their new shows against the wall and seeing which ones would stick.
It was like the networks would run their new shows up the flagpole to see who would salute.
It was like the network executives in charge of new programming would throw all their new shows into a pool to see which ones would rise to the top and which ones would sink to the bottom.
It was like wondering which of the new shows would become a hit and how many shows the following season would be blatant rip-off copies of it.
However, in the Golden Days of television a new season would start in the fall and run until the following spring.
No more. Nowadays, a new season begins when the executives of a TV show say it begins. A “season” can last for 10 shows, 5 shows, and in most cases only 1 show. “One and done,” as they say in show business.
So, here is my evaluation of what new TV series I have seen so far this new “season” of 2011. Times and titles may be different in your area:
“Pan Am” (ABC) is an attempt by a TV network to cash in on the success of HBO’s “Mad Men,” set in the Sixties, glamorous men and women smoking, drinking and having sex, etc. Well, remember: “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” Charles Caleb Colton said that. “Imitation is the sincerest form of television.” Fred Allen said that. “Hollywood has run out of ideas.” I said that. I have seen all the episodes, it follows a bevy of stewardess beauties, but it is somewhat difficult to keep characters straight, especially when you have two sisters who look alike. Sure, it’s preposterous to believe that a “stew” would be selected by the CIA to work as an agent, but isn’t all television preposterous? I give it “Three Fingers Up.”
I am more interested in watching the returning series, “The Good Wife” on CBS, “Desperate Housewives” on ABC and “Masterpiece Mystery” on PBS.
“2 Broke Girls” (CBS) is another “Odd Couple” rip-off, this time with two young women who share an apartment in New York and are both waitresses for the same funky restaurant. One is brunette and poor, the other is blond and used to be rich, who somehow managed to bring her horse with her to live in the back yard with them. It is amusing, but I see how it can wear thin pretty quickly. I give it “Three Fingers Up.”
I’m sticking with the returning series, “How I Met Your Mother” on CBS; “Two and a Half Man” on CBS, until Ashton Kutcher kills the show with his doofus personality; and “Castle” on ABC. Detective Beckett is a babe!
“Unforgettable” (CBS) is another crime-solving show with a gimmick: The good-looking female cop played by Poppy Montgomery is one of those few people who remember everything that happened to them in their lives. When the series started, she said in voice-over narration, “Only five people in the world can remember everything that happens to them.” Then when “60 Minutes” did a story on all the people they could find who could do this and came up with about 30, Poppy changed her introduction to “Only a few people….” However, this gimmick is going to wear thin, because what happens is that the cops don’t have to search for clues anymore. Poppy’s character just remembers something to let them catch the criminal! I give it “Three Fingers Up.”
I’m also sticking with “Parenthood” on NBC. Try it, you’ll like it.
“Revenge” (ABC) supposedly was influenced by The Count of Monte Cristo, the 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas, but here the main character is a woman who returns to The Hamptons on Long Island to exact revenge on all the high-society people she believes wronged her father when she was a little girl and caused his death. But at the rate she’s going, how can this last more than one “season”? Surely, the series won’t follow her after she gets caught and thrown into prison, will it? (I know! I know! Don’t call you “Shirley”!) I give it “Three Fingers Up.”
I’m also sticking with “Harry’s Law” on NBC, which had a very short run last “season.”
Thursday is the best night for television, but the worst night for watching television, as I always say. (I always say that.) There are seven hours of network television that I would like to see, and they are all in conflict with each other.
“Whitney” (NBC) is a new sitcom starring a comedienne named Whitney. She lives with her boyfriend, and they have wacky complications in their lives, most of which they create themselves. I give it “Three Fingers Up.”
“Prime Suspect” (NBC) is not only a blatant “rip-off” of the successful British series starring Helen Mirren about a female detective who becomes chief of detectives and has to fight the male chauvinism in her department while she is also fighting crime and catching criminals, but the network didn’t even change the title of the series. In this American version, Maria Bello is only one of the detectives in New York City who has to fight the male chauvinism in her department while catching criminals. I give it “Three Fingers Up.”
However, my biggest problem with Thursday nights is trying to watch and record everything I want to: I also like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Rules of Engagement” on CBS; “The Return of Sherlock Holmes” on PBS, which is “technically” “new,” but, after all, it is Sherlock Holmes; “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice” on ABC; and “Community,” “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office” on NBC. What to do. What to watch. What to record.
Friday is one of the worst nights for new television, as the only show I watch is the returning “Blue Bloods” on CBS. Detective Baker is a babe!
Saturday is the absolute worst night for new television. I can’t think of anything “new” that I watch. And, remember: Some new shows have already been canceled, some I never got to watch, and a few that I did. “The Playboy Club” comes to mind, but it was ruined by making a murder the main story-line instead of beautiful women. It was another attempt to copy the success of “Mad Men” on HBO, but it was done in by protests from organizations that hadn’t even seen the show and by bad writing.
“GAME THEORY” OF TELEVISION
Which brings me to my idea for saving television and replacing the insane way that networks introduce new shows. Rather than trying to promote their new series and making them successful, networks try to kill off the successful series on competing networks by scheduling their new shows in direct competition against the other networks’ successful shows. This is not only bad thinking on their part, but it drives the viewers crazy!
A television series is successful, because a lot of viewers are watching it. They are watching it, because they like it. If you put a new show up against a show they like, they’re not going to give the new show a chance! They are going to continue watching the show they like, and therefore any new show most likely won’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hades to succeed. (You could look it up.)
Now, if you’re old enough to remember the Golden Days of television, cream rose to the top, successful and popular shows won out over the competition, and networks became known for their “nights” of the week: NBC had Thursdays, anchored by “Seinfeld.” CBS had Saturdays, anchored by “All in the Family.” And ABC had Tuesdays, anchored by “Roseanne.”
Well, didn’t anyone see A Beautiful Mind, the 2001 movie about John Nash, the brilliant mathematician who won the Nobel Prize for his “game theory”?
As I remember it, his theory was that instead of competitors fighting against each other and only one winning, they should cooperate with each other and then everyone wins. This could work in the television world.
Now, there might be some legal “complications” involved, by my Game Theory of Television would work like this: The major networks get together and divide up the week among them.
For example, ABC chooses Monday and shows all their “best” series on that night. CBS chooses Tuesday and shows all their most-favored series on that night. FOX chooses Wednesday and shows all their preferred series on that night. And NBC takes Thursday (which used to be their “night,” anyway) and shows all their selected series on that night. Then Fridays are used for all the networks to try out their new shows, and the weekends could be for movies, specials, and other shows that don’t fit in with this new Game Theory of Television. Then on the nights that aren’t “their” night, the other networks could schedule new shows, shows that aren’t “successful,” and reruns. Then when any of these shows do become successful, the network would move it to the night of the week that is their night.
Everybody wins and nobody loses, least of all the viewers. It could work.
Goodbye and good watching.
Boulder Channel 1s TV Beat written by Guy McKenzie is a sometime column appearing when the networks release new shows or when they cancel good ones. Guy McKenzie is a well know television critic and has been Watching TV regularly since the days of tubed TV. Mr McKenzie has been a big screen as well as small screen actor, co-hosted Two More Guys at the Movies with his long time side man Guy Spelvin.