Monday, December 14, 2015

TV: Punishing the viewer

The boob tube.

One of the nicer names TV has been given over the years.

It's also been likened to a baby sitter.

But these days, more and more, it acts like a parent determined not to lose a power struggle.

You will eat your broccoli, you understand.

Not only that, you will also eat the sugary crap that's going to rot your teeth.


That's the only way to explain airing something like BLOOD &  OIL, after all.

We've noted already how shows like SUPERGIRL demonstrate that the last thing the networks are factoring in when green lighting is whether or not audiences want this or that offering.

But what's worse than that is the refusal to pick up on cues.

No one's watching BLOOD & OIL, ABC's hideous soap opera that wants to exclude women but lacks the guts to be a same-sex drama.

In seasons past, crap like this, attracting no viewers, would have been axed by the fourth episode.

"Well," you counter, "maybe the networks have decided to give shows a chance for a change."


Giving shows a chance would have been, for example, NBC giving THE EVENT a second season.

What they're doing is showing contempt for viewers.

Where else, they argue, are you going to go?

Because can broadcast television lose any more viewers?

They've been bleeding since the 80s -- the first to be run off in large numbers were women -- a little truth the networks don't ever like to ponder, let alone admit.

Or what of Fox which allows LAST MAN ON EARTH to destroy its ratings?

The series premeried last spring to nearly six million viewers and then quickly sunk.

It wrapped up season one with an episode that brought in only 3.51 million viewers.

In season two?

Of the ten episodes aired so far, only one got more (3.58 million) while the rest have set records for low ratings (2.29 million being the lowest so far).

And yet it remains on the air.

In fact, far too much crap continues to air.

WICKED CITY did get the axe.

In fact, that ABC series was the only show this fall that did get cancelled.

Cancelled means they pull your show off the air.

Instead of cancelling, the networks treated failing shows as if they were mini-series, letting all the installments peter out -- even when they reduced the number of episodes such as with THE PLAYER (NBC) and MINORITY REPORT (Fox).

And, of course, with BLOOD & OIL.

ABC has finally done viewers everywhere a favor -- Sunday night was the final episode of that hideous series.  No surprise, it's ratings hit an all time low.

'Oh, that happens when shows are getting the axe.'

No, not really.

What really happens when a network loses faith in a show and is kicking it to the curb is they move it around on the schedule.

BLOOD & OIL was aired on the same night and at the same time for every episode (the same was true of THE PLAYER and MINORITY REPORT).

ABC, for example, trashed HAPPY ENDINGS in its final season, shuffling it around on the schedule constantly.

But this season, the networks played dumb and it wasn't about ensuring that shows got a chance to find an audience, it was about being cheap.

They'd invested X amount of money and, damn it, these episodes that cost so much money were going to air.

And, damn it, viewers could lump it or leave it.

It's this arrogance that's driven viewers away each and every decade over the last forty years.

The networks are correct: You can punish the viewers.

What they don't get?

The viewer can (and does) rebel.

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