Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The real comment

One of the things that many screenwriting experts - including Alex in his books - advise is that you have to decipher the real meaning of story notes. If a reader says a part of a story doesn't work for Reason A, you have to look and see if Reason B is maybe the problem. Accept the fact that something may be wrong, but look deeper for why.

Dave Michaels a few days ago posted on his blog about people who say there's nothing on TV. I've heard the same from friends of mine, and I think this complaint deserves that old notes treatment.

Subjectively, and perhaps objectively, you can argue that we're in a golden age of television. Certainly drama is at its historical peak, with shows like "The Sopranos", "Deadwood", and "House". We have novelties like "Lost", too. You could argue that we're in a sitcom lull - for every "Scrubs", there's a waste of time like "According to Jim". Some viewers love reality shows; for others, reality shows uselessly take up space. Watch them or don't, but viewers can ignore reality TV, and the genre is not a direct part of the equation.

There's little question that there is good television on TV, even on the standard networks. So what is the real meaning behind the comment that there's nothing on?

I think the real comment is "I can't find anything on TV."

This isn't the '80s, when you knew what was on NBC every Thursday night. These days, shows switch days and times on whims. "American Idol" is on? OK, Fox's schedule gets flushed to slot it in on a daily basis. If you don't watch "American Idol" and the networks promos during the show, how will you know that your favourite show has moved to Wednesdays? The instability of network schedules keeps us from findng and sticking with the shows we think are good.

A related problem is the sheer volume of television. You can lose a show in the modern world's sea of channels just as you can lose it in a sea of scheduling changes. My DirecTV has 27 slots in its turbo menu. Nine go to my kids. Five go to sports channels. That leaves 13 channels for movies, specialty channels, and standard networks. That's fewer channels than I get with my basic cable. If I want to cruise more channels, I have to wade into the DirecTV tide, and good luck to me finding something.

Now, one other possible reason for the complaint is that people miss having a selection of funny sitcoms. That's a legit whine. But the scheduling and channel surplus problems are real, and may explain the popularity of TiVo and other DVRs. A brand new world is evolving out there.

Bonus fantasy baseball update:

I had some trades on the table before our trading deadline, but no one bit. I offered Brian McCann for a closer, Andruw Jones for Juan Pierre and two closers, and Scott Hatteberg for David Eckstein. Ah, well. I can probably finish in the money, but first place is a long shot. I picked up a closer, Francisco "CoCo" Cordero, in the add/drop but his stats will maintain my status quo and not gain me points.

My pitching was horrible last week, and my ERA climbed. It's really gotta drop. On the bright side, the MLB trades will work out well for me. Hector Luna and Todd Walker will get more playing time and Greg Maddux will have better stats in LA than he did in Chicago. Odalis Perez is starting again, too, and that will add valuable wins. For now, I have 53 points, good for third place.

.292 batting average (1st)
188 HR (2nd)
710 RBI (1st)
75 SB (tied 9th)
4.79 ERA (7th)
1.39 WHIP (4th)
50 wins (tied 5th)
17 saves (6th)


Blogger Dave said...

I'll agree with you on the reasons why folks might not be finding shows. That's a very real possibility. I catch a lot of my shows when I watch one, and see a commercial, I zip over to the dvr/tivo and setup a recording to catch it. If I had to depend on remembering, I doubt I would.

TV Guide doesn't appear to be as prevalent as it was when I was growing up.

However, I disagree with everybody's low opinions of According to Jim. I believe this is a type of throwback show that's been updated for today's situations.

Also, perhaps surprisingly, they do deal with many issues that married folks run into. Just last night, their episode was based around couples not doing anything special for one another anymore (i.e. getting dressed up, etc.) It's very common and I think that is perhaps why the show has lasted so long - they hit themes/issues that married folks relate to.

August 2, 2006 1:05 PM  
Blogger wcdixon said...

I'll agree with you - this is a 'golden age' of tv of sorts, but people are having a difficult time keeping score. Part of it must be the 'overwhelming' factor, and part must be the 'can't find it' factor. You're dead on when saying that no longer is a night owned by a network or a block of shows. And my 'must see tv' is rarely when it's on, but when I record it and can find time to view. And that's a lot of work for people without a vested interest in seeing certain shows.

August 2, 2006 5:05 PM  

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