Everyone’s a Critic: Summer TV
July 5th, 2011
05:24 PM ET

Everyone’s a Critic: Summer TV

In the fall, I’ll need several advanced logarithms to figure out a plan to DVR all of the shows I’ll be watching. But right now, the TV landscape is a little more sparse.

That means there’s an opportunity to watch shows I normally might not make time for, like “Covert Affairs,” “Falling Skies” and “Wilfred.”

They’re not the greatest shows ever, but they’re entertaining enough to overlook some occasionally clunky dialogue and implausible/predictable plot points. And a large part of that willingness to dive into these shows is the fact that, honestly, there’s not a whole lot else on. (If you're saying to yourself, "Jordan, I thought this was supposed to be a critical blog. Why are you writing about shows you like? Where’s the hate?" I'm getting there...)

So my question is, why are network programmers – especially broadcast networks – so reluctant to try a model that’s proven to be successful? Oh, that’s right, because they’re still stuck in the 20th century. (THERE’S the hate.)

For the most part, broadcast networks still think that when you and I take summer vacations, we’re taking those vacations from TV, too. With a few exceptions, the summer is normally used to burn off episodes of shows that failed during the year (Hi, “CHAOS” and “Law & Order: Los Angeles”), or to test reality shows that often get moved to the fall or winter if they’re successful.

But by and large, scripted shows that broadcast networks actually care about won’t start showing up again until September, when the airwaves are flooded with new and returning series, making the likelihood of watching new stuff that much smaller.

Cable networks aren’t beholden to this antiquated schedule, and it serves them well. AMC is bringing “Breaking Bad” back in the middle of July. TNT and FX have new and returning premieres slated for the summer months. And USA seems to have introduced an entire season lineup only after the standard TV season has ended.

By debuting series when viewers have more time to watch and don’t have many other options, these networks are building a fan base that is willing to make time if the shows DO come back during a crowded mid-season.

You know what show premiered outside of the standard network TV season? “The OC.” (Before you snicker, remember what a cultural juggernaut that show was at its outset.) In fact, Fox deliberately ran the first 7 episodes before the network’s standard fall break for the baseball playoffs, and fans were rabid for its return.

Unfortunately, it’s a risk that few broadcast networks have been willing to take since. Programmers forget that TV viewing habits have fundamentally changed. We watch things when and how we want to. Viewers don’t limit their entertainment options to the strict confines of the season format, and networks shouldn’t either.

I realize how hokey it might sound (especially given that we’re talking about TV), but with networks struggling to find scripted shows that can stick with audiences, it’s probably time to think outside the box.


soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. DrRundas

    T.T man it goes from casyanthiny then to someones top movies
    America has died
    Btw robotech needs to come back

    July 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Canadian Man

    I used to watch the major networks a lot. Good sitcoms like Cheers, Seinfeld and Friends. Dramas like ER and the Mentalist, Life and Chicago Code more recently. However, ever since i watched The Sopranos, Walking Dead, Dexter, Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire on networks like HBO, AMC and Shotimes, regular network TV doesn't do it for me anymore. The censorship alone is anoying but of course, shows can't all be uncensored but the predictability is the worst. The new breed of shows like Breaking Bad, Dexter and Walking Dead where you have no idea where these shows will take let alone how it will ultimatly end is what I'm aiming for now. As for Sitcoms, well.. aside from the nerds from Big Bang Theory, there's not much out there.

    As far as reality TV is concerned, it's kind of an oxymoron since it's all that real anyway because even some if not most of those shows are somewhat scipted and you can't actually believe that what you are witnessing is always spontanious or unexpected. The only ones I really like are The Apprentice and Big Brother (guilty pleasure).

    July 6, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  3. shawn

    I miss the shows of yesteyear: dukes of hazzard,ateam,knight rider,magnum,and macgyver. those shows were epic shows these days sux!

    July 6, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  4. Yolanda Weiner

    In this case PERSECUTION would be more correct. And LET THIS BE A WARNING and a LESSON to the remainder of you dimwitted Persecutors.

    July 6, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. ian

    The problem with the Anthony trial is all these STUPID WOMEN of America cant think in a logical fashion. Most women are just dumb blockheads.

    July 6, 2011 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • trigtwit... America's favorite tard baby

      True. Just look at my mother Sarah Palin. She's a bigger retard than I am.

      July 6, 2011 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  6. joAnn

    Why,was Casey Anthony let go for a crime she had committed?Why,didn't she put the child up for adoption?My,question would of been for the jury.Where,did Casey Anthony Go with Caylee in the car,and Casey,retuned alone. JoAnn

    July 6, 2011 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Yolanda Weiner

      How can you ask such? The persecution proved nothing. The persecution wasted MILLIONS of dollars on a case they couldnt prove. The persecution played on the emotions of the jurors and it backfired.

      Your questions are MOOT. There is NO PROOF Casey killed that little girl
      Get over yourself you amateur.

      July 6, 2011 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
    • trigtwit...America's favorite tard baby

      Yolanda, it's "prosecution". Not "persecution". You amateur.

      July 6, 2011 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
  7. Heather

    I'd love to see more scripted shows. There are really more than enough reality shows out there and their format drives me batty. If you pulled all the pre-commercial "coming up" and post-commercial reviews of what's happened so far, the shows would be about half the length. It's like they think the audience has the attention span of a 4 year old. And don't get me started on how mundane the subject matter has become.

    I've been watching scripted (cancelled) series on Netflix lately. It's disappointing to follow them through and enjoy the story arc only to have them end suddenly without closure and looking back knowing its because they got booted for another cheaper to produce reality show.

    July 6, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  8. Mike

    The Glades and Burn Notice are at the top of my list as well as Rookie Blue.

    July 6, 2011 at 6:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. Geoff

    Bring back "Battle of The Network Stars"!!!! THAT was quality TV! And it was cool seeing beautiful starlets in skimpy outfits.

    July 6, 2011 at 4:28 am | Report abuse |
  10. NobodySpecial

    Not just the way shows are scheduled but also they keep canceling GREAT shows that have GREAT potential. The more they keep canceling shows after one or two seasons, the audience is just going to be like "Well, why take a chance?" Ratings have been plummeting more and more because the shows keep getting canceled, the writers are lazy and rely on the same ol' same ol' while new and invigorating ideas are shot dead by the execs.

    On top of that, the shows are becoming so WHITE-WASHED lately, minorities are either cast as
    A) The common stereotype
    B) Minor small roles
    C) They are token and not that many.

    Need BETTER diversity and need more FULL-BLOODED ASIAN GUYS TO GET THE HOT ACTRESSES!

    July 6, 2011 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  11. Stacey

    USA summer dramas rock! Hello Burn Notice, In Plain Sight! And I'm not ashamed to say Covert Affairs and Royal Pains are my guilty pleasures too! The networks should get a clue. I'd rather watch BBC America than most of the garbage on Networks. And thank you Canadian TV for Flashpoint. Why can't the US figure out what Canada and GB already know!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • E

      Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, White Collar, Royal Pains and Covert Affairs for me till Breaking Bad comes back in a few weeks. I've rarely seen Flashpoint here though... just hasn't seemed to gain an audience for some reason. Not sure why honestly. Still, we've got a few good ones on networks other than Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC. I'm all for it!

      July 5, 2011 at 11:36 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Hater

    Actually algorithm is the correct one. Just look in a dictionary.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cndian

    Watch "the Glades" on A&E it's pretty good!!

    July 5, 2011 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  14. eric

    Advanced logarithms, huh? I think you meant algorithms. Way to use a word to sound smart just to end up using the wrong word and sounding dumber than if you hadn't tried.

    July 5, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Logarithm and algorithm are two different words. This was used correctly. Bet you feel smart right now, don't ya.

      July 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      Eric is right here. yes mike logarithm and algorithm are two different words – the point is they mean two different things. Algorithm makes sense here – logarithm not so much. How would you feel if the author said he needed to use advanced addition to choose the lineup

      July 5, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • eric

      Well done mike. You know a few words. What you and this writer seem not to know is how to use them. A logarithm is a specific non linear relationship between two numbers. None are more advanced than another and can not be used, even metaphorically, in the sentence above. An algorithm is "a set of rules for solving a problem" which is what the writer meant. But thanks for commenting ... I only develop algorithms for a living and clearly don't know what I'm talking about. And before you reply again ... Yes, I know I'm a nerd.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
  15. carl

    I just fapped to this picture.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  16. ryan

    damnit, I mispelled Heisenberg...sigh

    July 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  17. ryan

    HEISIENBERGGGG!!

    July 5, 2011 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Goobygan

    Crap. All crap. Breaking Bad is the only good one of the bunch.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Orgazmo

    Cheesiest posed shot ever!!!!

    July 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |

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