Alright, we'll get to the "Little Women" (above) reference in a minute. First, we have to talk about the state of American television. And that state is like California now, not good. Overall viewership is way down, this season only featured one new hit "The Mentalist" (which I am very surprised about) , and I expect when the new fall seasons for all the big broadcast networks are released in the summer, expect many of your favorite shows to be gone.
Yeah, I know. Not good. True the cable networks are picking up a lot of the slack (I cannot wait for "Mad Men" in August!) but a ton of our favorite shows still come from the networks and when they aren't doing good, neither are we, or me because I'm the only one that follows this stuff this close.
As we previously discussed, Jay Leno (right) is going to have a Monday through Friday show on NBC at 10 PM, simply because he's cheaper than programming a drama or comedy in the same spot.
Whether or not the project works or not (I think it could work but it'll surely siphon viewers away from a Conan O'Brien-hosted "Tonight Show"), that means five hours less network time for dramatic shows than we had in the past. Plus more Jay Leno. Ugh.
To top all this nonsense off, the dramas that the networks are introducing are either new cop shows, new medical shows, and new, the first two I said, because they are the only ones that people seem to actually watch week after week. But even those tried and true formulas aren't pulling viewers in droves anymore. My fave of the new breed "Southland" may have been picked up for a second season thank God, but it's ratings dropped each of the weeks that it's been on air.
Because network executives are basically idiots with really nice offices and big paychecks, the other tactic they have for getting viewers back to the small screen is to spin-off old shows. Like we discussed with Broadway musicals turning into movies, the logic is that if we already know the characters from another show or the show was popular in the past, viewers will be more likely to tune into the new show.
Case in point: "90210" (below).
Not only is the new "90210" technically a spin-off of the original "Beverly Hills: 90210" from the 90s, but the producers are now considering taking characters from that show to create a new "Melrose Place," which the original show was a spin-off of the old "90210". Did that make sense?
Plus the desperate CW network is also spinning off the gawdawful "Gossip Girl" with another show because we all really, really needed it. Overall, the thing I think is so ridonk about all this nonsense is that none of these machinations guarantees that anyone is gonna watch the new show.
As much as I love "Private Practice" (above), the "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off on ABC, and it's doing fairly well, it still doesn't get the ratings of its parent show. It never will. And the reason it doesn't is why I opened the post discussing "Little Women."
The nets need to understand that carbon copies of old shows and boring procedural dramas will never get viewers like "M.A.S.H." or "Friends" or any classic show because people only tune into shows in huge numbers when something's on the line. When you've loved characters in absorbing situations that compel you to tune in weekly to see if your people get closer to their goal.
That's why a small screen version of "Little Women" (below) will fix everything!
I recently watched the 1994 version of the Louisa May Alcott story with Winona Ryder and thought "not only is this a great movie, it would be a fantastic show!"
The story is wholesome so it would attract a wide variety of viewers, it depicts the Civil War era with the costumes and customs that many find romantic, and the characters are very strong: every person considers themselves either a Jo, Meg, Beth, or Amy.
Plus, the story is so well known that many girls treat it with the same fandom than many treat Jane Austen's novels and all the subsequent television miniseries created for them (including the one when Colin Firth took off his shirt).
And to get people to tune in even if they already know the story, they could stretch it by adding new storylines, stretching the timeline, etc. I mean wouldn't you tune in every week to see some sh!t like this:
C'mon TV execs! People need television they can be swept up in! TV that takes them away and makes them imagine worlds they could never visit with people they could never meet! A "Little Women" TV show could have all this...
People would watch in droves!
Now if we're not going to actually buy an interesting script from a new writer and actually give it money to put it on the air and not cancel it after two episodes, I think a "Little Women" TV show is the next best option. Certainly better than all these spin-offs and talk shows. But if "Little Women" isn't your thing, what other piece of entertainment would you give the TV treatment?
It can be a movie, book, play, anything? Let me (and the TV big shots) know!
As I See It - June 19, 2013
1 hour ago