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03/26/2004 Archived Entry: "TV tirade"
Posted by CKL @ 08:48 AM PST

50 years of color TV, and what do we have to show for it? Lots and lots of commercials.

In the SF Chronicle today, TV critic Tim Goodman laments the way Fox commissions brilliant and innovative new shows, only to cancel them when they have consistently low ratings and instead airing the latest crappy reality show:

Now, Fox always has good development seasons... The problem with critically acclaimed Fox shows is that they tend to tank, for a variety of reasons that, frankly, I just haven't had enough Diet Coke to really get into. But if you -- "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" -- watch the network -- "The Tick" -- you know what I'm talking about. Say no more.
Let's be honest here. I've always been of the mind that there are two big things wrong with free television:
  1. The Nielsen ratings are horribly broken.
  2. Advertisers, not viewers, determine which shows will survive.
Why does HBO have such cachet that people (like me) are willing to pay up to $20 a month for it? Because they produce great shows like Carnivale, The Sopranos, Sex and the City, and Six Feet Under.

HBO works because they don't have to answer to the people shilling laundry detergent or SUVs. I don't think all advertising is evil, but I believe that the interrupt-of-attention model that is the standard for American TV simply doesn't work. I'm frankly insulted by the implication that I will refuse to pay for the shows I love, that you have to extort payment in the form of wasting my time.

Hell, I would gladly pay $20 a month just to watch Angel. Seriously. But I haven't been offered the choice.

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