Tuesday, September 26, 2006

TV Schadenfreude - A letter to the network execs

Schadenfreude - noun - satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else's misfortune.
I know. We are all bitches, but sometimes its fun to see something like Happy Hour get placed on "hiatus" and hopefully never come back. So there we have it, the season's first (kinda) cancellation. Though I'm sad to say Justice is pretty much right behind.

In defence of shows that are sinking fast with lackluster ratings, I would like to say. Um. We are only in week 2 of premiere season and Septemeber is not even over yet? Can we say "Jumping the gun" studio execs? Yes, the Fox shows have been around for a month but there was probably a reason they led right out of the gate to get people to watch while NOTHING ELSE WAS STILL ON YET. Fox had the most unimaginative new season they've had in a LONG while. However, has patience not taught you anything? If you execs had been this fast at pulling the trigger, shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI, Seinfeld, would have been long gone before they became number one shows MUCH later (usually at LEAST their 3rd or 4th seasons).

Yes, there have been no breakout hits yet. It's hard when the quality of shows has gone up, and thus expectations, and factor in the diminished time periods left for viewing, there's only so much TIVOing and Taping we can all do, even from someone like me who watches TV every second I can.

With recent breakout hits like Lost, 24, the first season of Desperate Housewives, quality was always from the get go, but all the new shows so far that premiered, usually were good but not perfectly great and sometimes a little familiar looking (Jericho, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Brothers and Sisters, Six Degrees, The Class, Men In Trees, Shark, Justice, Standoff). All made with some decent quality, and really, do we all remember former seasons? There were some HORRIBLE new shows, but this year where there were really only a handful of clunkers (Happy Hour, 'Til Death, Men in Trees to most people, The Class to some people), everything else thus looks bad just because of relativity.

Of course, three shows I'm most excited about haven't even started yet, since again, WE ONLY JUST STARTED THE NEW FALL SEASON, but I'm betting on Ugly Betty being the biggest surprise hit, The Nine will do pretty good though I still think it won't have ratings that we have built expectations around, and Friday Night Lights will hopefully get an audience for what essentially is a 44 minute indie movie every week.

Since this season is the season for long serials, now that the after-effect of Lost copycats is in full effect, can people trust the execs to invest our time and emotions and viewing eyes onto a show to let it fully be explored and unravelled? Previous trigger happy execs have let people down already and we have become a little harder and embittered (see fans of Invasion, Reunion, Threshold, My So Called Life etc) so you can't blame viewers for waiting until a full season on DVD is out and ready with reliable word of mouth before getting into the game. Even 24 didn't become a full fledged hit until the DVD's came out allowing people to catch up in marathon sessions and then finally sucking them into join the live broadcasts on Fox.

So, just as soon as the TV critics and advertisers announced that this is the best fall season ever, the Schadenfreude gene in all of us have already called this season somewhat of a dude 8 days into the official new season. People and Studio Execs (they are not one and the same), be PATIENT and give the shows a chance. As I keep repeating, sometimes shows don't come into their own until a season in (Grey's Anatomy, Sex and the City, Everwood, Entourage, The Office (US)) so we need to let the show introduce themselves first and them let them grow. Not every show has an amazing pilot, but that doesn't mean it can't be an amazing show (or vice versa). However in the meantime, a dios Happy Hour!

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