The biggest non-surprise that has come to light in the last few weeks is that network executives make idiotic decisions! We have all been perplexed throughout the years with the thought process that yanks a show after only a few episodes (some of us were still trying to figure out when and where it was showing) or moves a popular show to a different day and time only to watch it die a slow painful death. I constantly yearn for the good ole days when a new season began in the fall and ran non-stop new episodes until the spring. We watched the reruns over the summer – life had order and simplicity. Nowadays, your favorite show may start in the fall or maybe not until January. It gives you a couple of new episodes and then follows it up with a few weeks of reruns. Some weeks it disappears completely. Is The Office airing a new episode this week? We don’t know. After checking the satellite guide we see that it is, in fact, a rerun. Of course, it must be time for a rerun already since we’ve just seen a couple of new episodes in a row! When will we get another new episode? Well, look at that! After checking with the website, we find a banner advertising that a new episode is indeed coming our way in three short weeks! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that someone might not get that memo, fail to tune in on the right week and cause that new episode to have lower ratings. Gone are the days of needing to be home every Thursday night at a certain time because you knew there would be the next new installment in your favorite show.
Oh, but we have DVR’s you say! Yes, with the invention of Tivo and the likes, the problem is solved. Thank you cable and satellite companies! Now we can just program our recorders to catch every episode, new or repeat, of our favorite show. No matter when or where it is playing my DVR will find it, record it and save it for me. Sure, I will still be disappointed to find it has recorded a repeat, even though the “new” season just started a few weeks ago. But at least I won’t miss anything. And since it can be difficult to keep up with the characters and plot lines on Lost and 24, especially with all of the constant interruptions to the story telling, my DVR will keep it all for me so I can reference back when I need to. Everyone enjoys doing a little research. It’s almost easier to wait for a season to be over and just watch the whole doggone thing on DVD. But alas, too many of us try that one and the ratings will plummet and the show will be yanked. So with the invention of DVR’s the problem has been solved. You would think.
No, network executives are even stupid enough to muck things up anyway!
Case in point: Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien. The Tonight show has been running for over fifty years. It is nestled neatly behind the evening news where viewers can find a laugh and drift off to sleep blissfully after having been sufficiently depressed by the droning on of their late night news. They’ve been inundated with the news of the dark side of mankind. They have been discouraged by the news of the worthlessness of their American dollar. They’ve been told about the latest construction zones popping up all over their city and now, to top it all off, they know how miserably cold or hot they will be as they fight their way through them tomorrow morning to get to work. Ah yes, we need a little Tonight Show now! And that’s the way it has been for the last half of a century. Until the network executives got their hands on things.
What a great idea! Let’s move Leno up so people can enjoy him before the news. Sounds reasonable. We all love Leno. And who doesn’t want to go to bed a little earlier. But, wait! You can’t go to bed early. NBC and Conan are counting on you to continue the fifty year tradition of ending your day with the Tonight Show. What if watching two hours of late night comedy with the news sandwiched in between is a little much for you? Well, we have DVR’s!
What? Not all of you have DVR’s? That’s right, Hollywood. There is still a segment of our population watching regular old live TV. There are some who love Jay Leno, love a little comedy at the end of their long day and are thrilled that they can get that and the news and now hit the sack one hour sooner. Sorry Tonight Show and Conan. But you have made it very easy for us to let you go. What about those who are on another channel, any one of the five weeknights, already caught up in another prime time show? They now have to part with Jay? “He will be there for me on rerun nights,” you say, – and there will be rerun nights – “but I can’t just leave my other favorite shows!”
And what about the viewers who can record? Well, this solves everything unless you happen to be a weirdo who is already recording two shows during Leno’s new prime time hour. It can happen – an often does. There are hundreds of channels to choose from now and whether you are recording cable news shows, movies, cable or network series or Disney shows for your kids, chances are you are going to have a conflict. Especially during prime time. Isn’t that the whole premise of the recent rollout of recorders that can record more than two shows at a time? I can’t record more than two shows at a time. Leno didn’t stand a chance with me in prime time.
Even if we could record them all, and we wish we could, it’s a lot like choosing food off a restaurant menu – your eyes are often bigger than your stomach. You only have so much time to watch your recorded shows. You do have a life, after all!
So the network executives blew it again. Not the first time, won’t be the last. What is so surprising is that they messed around with the Tonight Show, of all shows. They’ve created a debacle that won’t turn out well for either host but in the meantime it sure is garnering some ratings!
And the rest of us, well after this mess is sorted out we will continue on with the way things have always been. Our viewing pleasures at the mercy of some “out of touch” network executive, resigned to the fact that our favorite comedy or new drama could be pulled without notice, As for those dramas, I offer one caution. Beware of cliffhangers. No guarantee anyone will be back to rescue you.