February 2, 2018 by phicks2012
The other night I was looking for something — ANYTHING appealing — to watch on TV. Yeah, yeah! I know. Same tired old complaint. 😉
It was one of THOSE days when I really needed deiversion. It was a Friday with no reasonably local SCA events to attend. All of my books had been read, my newsletters were on track, I was way ahead on drawing comic strips, my “Office and Kitchen De-Cluttering Project” was moving right along, my garden was on winter hiatus, the grocery shopping was done, and we had plenty of horse and cat food. I was in no mood to do housework (is anybody EVER really?), I craved a break from on-line gaming, and while I needed to do some needlework that wasn’t going to happen unless I forcibly exiled my lap-obsessesd cat.
I quested through my on-line Guide and On Demand, and spent over two hours searching Netflix and Hulu. I was UTTERLY CONVINCED I’d find something to watch with all of that, but Nooooooo.
As far as I could tell, I’d already watched most of the good stuff On Demand, on Netflix, and on Hulu, and (of what remained) all three sources offered me at LEAST twenty-to-thirty things I had no REMOTE interest in watching for every ONE I thought I might be willing to take a wild chance on. Do rational human beings actually WANT to watch “Real Housewives”, “The Kasdashians”, and things like “My 600 Lb. Life” and “Mama June Not to Hot” On Demand? Just checking, because my poor befuddled mind just WON’T GO THERE. 😉
Sadly, while I did TRY watching a few new (to me) offerings even when they didn’t sound appealing, I absolutely FAILED to get through a single episode of a single one of them. This tells me three things:
1) That if the description doesn’t appeal to me, the series probably isn’t going to appeal either.
2) That I can save a lot of time by NOT browsing certain categories at ALL.
3) That if it’s listed as “Trending” there is only about a 10% chance of it being of any remote interest to me. “Trending” too often tends to mean it’s caught the attention of people who like to watch train wrecks and actually care what pseudo-celebrities are tweeting and naming their hamsters. Only occasionally will a decent (usually brand new) show manage to slip through the idiocy filter (filtering FOR idiocy, by the way) into that category — for a while, until the train-wreck-watchers give it a thumbs-down in favor of a bad reality show featuring marginally known, obnoxious celebrities competing as tire-changers or airport security guards, or (God Forbid) on something like “Big Brother”. 😉
In the end, I didn’t find anything “new” that I could manage to watch without fighting the urge to shoot myself in the head, so I finally opted for the “old” instead and wound up watching Firefly on DVD. 😉 Cult Classic.
So, if any producers of potential new TV shows are reading this — which is HIGHLY unlikely, because they’re mostly too busy trying to figure out how to make reality shows (about rich people who behave like Jerry Springer guests) fly — here’s what I like (and dislike):
1) I want an ensemble cast with interesting plot premises and believable, well-written and well-acted characters. I want to be able to like, identify with, and empathize with the characters. If I can’t care about the premise of the show, or about the characters’ back-stories, or about what happens to them in their fictional lives, what’s the point of watching the show, really? None at all, that I can think of.
2) I much prefer character-driven scripted drama balanced by character-driven humor — not unremittingly dark story-lines with no up-side, and not continual one-liners bolstered by bad laugh-tracks to tell me when the directors, etc think I ought to be laughing. PLEASE!!!
3) With the possible exceptions of Madam Secretary & Designated Survivor, I don’t care for shows about politics. I just don’t. Nor do I care for humorless shows centered around espionage, or for programs focusing on hit-men/assassins (of any gender), drug-dealers, gangsters, gang-bangers, or thugs. Otherwise, it doesn’t really matter to me whether the show is Science Fiction, or Crime, or Mystery, or Comedy, or Fantasy, or Historical or Whatever. I just want it to be intelligent, engaging, and “addictive” (in a good way).
4) Mostly, I dislike so-called “Reality” shows, which –let’s face it — are generally about as “real” as a plastic fern or The Nigerian Scam. I WILL watch some competition shows, but if it’s a Competition Reality Show, please let it involve real amateur competitors trying to succeed in an interesting field or endeavor, and for a genuine prize — not ersatz celebrities craving more air time to resurrect sagging or non-existent careers. In addition, please don’t cast or script it to encourage negative behavior, or edit the show to highlight and accentuate that sort of thing. It really does NOT float my boat to watch people shouting, back-stabbing and throwing each other under buses.
5) To screen writers: Unless it’s a comedy like “Get Smart”, please don’t have every storyline revolve around conflict with a single, undefeatable mega-villan or villanous organization. That gets really old really fast and makes the lead characters seem increasingly ineffectual. It’s like watching a sporting event locked in endless overtime, and knowing that your team is never going to win. Thank you!
6) To casting directors: Even if I really like an actor, I won’t watch a show simply because he or she has a starring role in it. I’ll check it out, but if, after a few episodes, I’m still not feeling the “pull” of the story-lines and characters I’ll stop watching it. What I WILL do is refuse to watch shows where the actors/participants are LOUD and obnoxious, and I’ll refuse on principle to watch a TV show or movie, regardless of the source or other bonafides, starring an actor who, for example, serves essentially as a spokes-model for a cult. I won’t pay to see them at the theatre, I won’t buy or rent them on DVD (even for $1 from Redbox), and I pretty much won’t even watch them for free on TV, because I’m irrationally concerned that I might be financing, even indirectly, a bogus “religion” created by a third-rate science fiction author. How’s that for almost dodging specifics? 😉
Okay, so, having ranted my rant, I’m not sure it’s possible for a network to have only good programming, because there are just too many viewers out there who have no taste at all, and who — back to my earlier over-used metaphor — gravitate to train wrecks. They like to watch people who are famous for being famous, and they like to watch shrewish women in designer gowns, stilletto heels and too much makeup shriek at one another. They like to watch contestants who snipe and back-stab, and they like to watch “talk shows” where you expect to see sisters literally fighting and clawing over who should get to sleep with their toothless drug-dealing brother who has children by at least eleven different other ignorant and totally undescriminating women.
I’d ask “WHY?”, but I don’t think there ARE any answers, and if I actually GOT them I’m afraid my head might implode. Right? 😉
Settling in for six more weeks of Winter. Thanks, Phil.