Resin Heroes

Direct Beam Comms #104

Rumor Control

Rumor Control

I’ve been working on my yearly “best of” TV series column for the Fort Wayne Reader the last few weeks and I’m amazed at how many great series there are out there. Depending on what all gets printed due to space limitations, right now I’ve got seven shows on my “best of” list. And I could pretty easily find seven more shows to put on the list and then seven after that. There’s so much great TV on nowadays it makes “good” TV series look average. These days I find myself watching one or two episodes of shows that just a few years ago I would have watched full seasons of simply because there was nothing else on. And I still wonder how many shows other people love that I end up skipping altogether since I just don’t have enough time to watch everything I should?

There are shows I don’t watch because I don’t have enough time and there are shows I don’t watch because I don’t get whatever streaming service or cable outlet they happen to be on that I don’t get. I’d love to watch shows like Star Trek: Discovery, The Runaways or Ash vs Evil Dead, but because I don’t pay for CBS All Access, Hulu or Starz means I don’t have an opportunity to check out those shows.

But honestly, though, I’d rather be in the position of there being too many good things to watch than what it was like a decade ago. To be sure there was good, no, great shows on then too — there always have been. The difference was the good things to watch a decade ago were few and far between. Looking back at my “best of” list even from a decade ago there are a few shows I’d consider “great” even by today’s standards, but the majority of the shows on that list are simply “good.” That’s not meant as a knock against those “good” shows, just that when I was building my list back in 2007 I had to put a lot of “good” shows on it when there were just a few “great” ones airing.

Now it’s an entirely different matter. There are so many shows that are “great” the problem is I don’t have enough room to list them all or time to write about everything. I have to think that there’s surly some “great” shows these days that don’t get critical acclaim since today shows can’t just be “great,” they also have to be “innovative” or “ground breaking” or “unique” too to get loads of people to watch them.

I do wonder where this all ends? There are so many networks, channels and services all creating original content and there are only so many eyeballs available to watch said original content, what does the TV landscape look like 10 years from now? I think we’ve already caught a glimpse of what’s coming with WGN. This year the channel which had done some original content of its own in the past with the likes of Manhattan and Salem cancelled all their original series and instead decided to focus on cheaper syndicated fare. In 2018 the channel will begin running series from Canada and Sweden instead of original programming. And that’s not saying those Canadian or Swedish shows might not be interesting, but they’re not being created by WGN.

It’s happened in the movies already. The 1970s were considered a high watermark of cinema in the US yet by the mid–1980s things had devolved to the point where everyone was chasing big box office successes rather than wanting to make interesting movies. For example, in 1976 a movie about Watergate All the President’s Men was the third highest grossing film in the US that year. By 1986 the third highest grossing movie was Platoon, but that was overshadowed by the likes of Top Gun and Crocodile Dundee as the two highest grossing movies that year.

I feel like we’re living what films went through with TV series right now. There’s a lot of really great stuff on, but right now that “great” stuff isn’t attracting as many viewers as the creators of these shows would like. Oddly enough that doesn’t matter since everyone’s in the same boat as it were ratings wise. I figure someday some network will “crack the code” and create some lowest common denominator (read “bad”) show that gets lots of viewers that’s easy to emulate that other outlets will start copying. We’ve kind’a seen that with reality TV already that’s very cheap to make that in a few cases lots of people watch. But I think it’s only a matter of time the same thing happens on the drama/comedy side of TV too.

It will be interesting to see how this all pans out someday. My only hope is that when everything does come crashing down and all networks start running repeats of Big Bang Theory and whatever hot new show from Croatia everyone’s talking about, that I’ll have missed enough of the “good” shows over the years that when all this happens I’ll have the chance to go back and check them out.


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