2010 in review: The disappointment that was televsion

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

I used to love TV. I grew up watching the great Thursday night lineup on NBC (Cosby, Family Ties, Cheers, Night Court). Which eventually gave way to Wings and Frasier. You had the great dramas like LA Law. The action of Magnum PI and The A Team.. And the feisty pairing of Willis and Shepherd on Moonlighting. To me, this was the best years of television. My dad would argue the late 50s – early 60s, and I could certainly see his point. With everything from Andy Griffith and Wagon Train to Gunsmoke and the Twilight Zone, that era did give us some much beloved classics as well.

The problem is, somewhere along the way, in some board room or office in a high rise in Los Angeles or New York, some suit decided to take originality out of TV. They decided that apparently, people don’t want to be challenged when watching a show. They simply want spoon fed mindless drool. As a result of this….you get the of 2010 in television. To say it was a mediocre year is being kind. It was a downright awful year. A year which saw no true break out show, but a lot of misses, both by network management and programming heads. So I give you, my personal 10 biggest TV disappoints of 2010.

10. Lost – No, not because of the last episode. It is because I never watched the show from the start, so I decided to take the time to delve into the series from the very beginning. I only made it about half way through the series before I realized: the show was not that good! Stiff wooden acting and completely absurd story lines do not make a sure good.

9, Friday Night Lights – Let me start by saying this: this show is still one of the best acted and directed shows on TV, without question. The problem is, the writing has gone down hill drastically between season 3 and season 4. I am sure most of it has to do with the budget cuts of being moved to DirectTV, but is a shame that the show is going out with such a whimper.

8. Network executives killing a show too quickly – In today’s world, Seinfeld would have never made it on the air. A stunning 11 shows which debuted in September did not make it on the air at least 4 episodes. Now, I am not saying these shows were good in my opinion, but the fact that executives will not allow a show to find it’s audience is a disturbing trend. Even more disturbing, the shows which replaced the canceled shows did no better in the rating, which brings me to…..

7. The networks still refusing to see they are having their asses handed to them by cable…OK, maybe not in the true sense of cable shows beating them in the ratings, but in the pure sense of creativity and execution of product, there is no comparison. From Burn Notice and Psyche to Leverage and Sons of Anarchy, cable is where to go see the real TV writers at work. Why you may ask? Because

6. The networks refuse to let the reality trend dies it’s inevitable death. The only show to have over 20 million viewers in 2010 was American Idol, and for the first time since it began, it dipped below that number on several occasions. Now, you may be saying “so what, it is still the number one show on TV”. Yes, that is true, but look back even 10 years ago, when all of the top 10 shows were consistently pulling in over 20 million viewers for each show. Now, I get that people have more options for their entertainment now, but the major networks do not get that much of the viewership loss has to do with the quality of the programming they are putting on the air. There is only so many times you can watch wanna be models get dumped or get drunk before people are going to start hitting the off switch.

5. The Late Night Fiasco of NBC – Now yes, technically this began in 2009, but the full effect of the disaster was felt this year. And there is plenty of blame to go around. I am one of the few who feels Leno got the shaft put to him more than Conan. Leno NEVER wanted to give up the Tonight Show. That much was clear 5 years ago when Conan backed NBC into the corner of forcing them to give it to him in his contract renegotiation. Leno has said all along he had no interest in retiring, and made every indication that he would shop for his own show when he was forced out because of the Conan contract. Now, I don’t blame Conan one bit here either. He had every right to get some type of position from NBC on where he stood. The person to blame in the entire mess is clearly the executive who did not realize a year ago that neither of them was moving in their position and something had to be done. ONE of them should have been let loose at that time to explore their options. Instead, what you ended up with was a show that had no business being on in prime time (Leno’s show), a host of the Tonight Show who never fit in because he was also looking over his shoulder. And more importantly, you have NOTHING in the pipeline programming wise for the entire thing implodes on you. So, you loose what could have been a franchise of a show in Southland (which jumped to TNT and is doing outstanding), and have half the creative development community pissed at you. But NBC, you are not done on my list yet!

4. The great big middle finger NBC gave to Law and Order – You take one of the most storied franchises in the history of TV. Week in week out a solid ratings performer (it was always in the top 50 since season 1), you run right up to Gunsmoke’s 20 years on the air record….then you cancel it and put in it’s time slot….THE EXACT SAME SHOW!!!! It does not get much more insulting than that.

3. Sex sells, and apparently everyone is buying– There are really too many to mention here. From the “I banged a guy on camera so now I am famous” Kardashians, to the “I spread my legs for the camera and now I am famous” Kendra to the…well… I spread for anything girls of the Jersey Shore, I feel like I need to have my TV tested for STDs before I can even turn it on. Do the words self esteem mean anything to anyone anymore?

2. Basically, the entire new fall tv season – I can not remember when I was so underwhelmed by an entire season’s worth of shows than I was this past fall. Some of my favorites (The Whole Truth, OutLaw), we canceled way to soon, most were just completely forgettable, and the ones I enjoyed when they debuted (Chase, Hawaii Five O, Detroit 187, The Defenders), fell completely from my radar by mid season. There honestly is not one show which debuted this fall which I see myself watching a year from now.

1. The Mentalist – What the hell happened to this show!! I have never in my life gone from liking a character so much to not being able to watch them on screen so fast. The writers have turned Simon Baker’s character into such a smug, arrogant ass, YOU WANT RED JOHN TO FIND HIM!!. I am shocked how this show went from being #1 on my best of list last year to being completely off my viewing schedule this year.


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