Sunday, August 16, 2009

Saving Grace

All right - I was all set to do some serious short story fiction this morning and made the mistake of reading my messages...damn it! The following mad tirade was originally posted on Fancast because as usual, I couldn't keep my mouth shut!

So...I got an email from a very good friend today, the one that makes sure I understand what quality content in media is all about, specifically Film and TV. Turns out that TNT may be canceling a very good show called "Saving Grace", maybe you've heard of it?

Though not quite as bad as hearing about a loved one or close friend dying, there is always a measure of disbelief and sadness that follows. Course, then comes the disgust and bitter disappointment with networks, who can't see or appreciate the art, and magic of a perfectly cast and intelligently written show.

But here's the problem folks, the networks who bring you the good with the bad, are in the business of making money. Show's more often than not get canceled because they cannot meet the required Nealson ratings. So who's at fault here, the network who gave you a taste of something really good, or the public who failed to watch?

It would be easy to state the obvious, given the cold hard facts, but it's more complicated than that. We are a strange society, populated by honest and hard working folks, many of whom came to this country through unbelievable hardship, but endured long enough to make it here. Whether born to citizenship in this country or harder still, earned citizenship, the vast majority of us has chosen at the end of our long day, the simpler and more immediate means of gaining our cathartic high's.

Material wealth, alcohol, sex, explosions and voyeurism have become the tactile, visual, and audible drugs of choice. Networks didn't decide one day that they didn't care about the content of what they produced, most of them started out believing that what would make them great, what would drive their ratings through the roof and make them profitable, would be great content.

We as a society, have proven that content, more specifically the quality of content isn't always all that important. Those in the networks directly responsible to their shareholders and insuring that they meet their 10% increase in profitability every year, discovered this after hiring new marketing and research experts.

These corporately groomed, ivy league, businessmen and woman didn't bring creative talent to improve the content of the networks' programming. What they brought, was the cold, calculated drive to increase the size of their commercial accounts, and reduce their operational expenses.

Through research, it was determined that the concept of Reality TV, a genre we actually started in 1948 with shows like "Candid Camera" , was garnering some serious ratings in Britain, and without much expenditure.

So in came the great network experiments, the birth of "Cops" and MTV's "The Real World". We all watched, they were something new and interesting and the ratings were impressive enough to start the inevitable domino effect that has lead us to where we are today.

We have reached a level of saturation and acceptance of this genre's ever devolving means to entertain through the use of glorifying the most socially depraved forms of human interaction. This viewer wonders just how far off is it before extreme fighting to the death for convicts facing life or death sentences, becomes the next network rating's wet dream come true.

Oh dear, now I've done it...some network toady who's brother manages a privately owned prison, is gonna see this and freak out!

So how do we keep shows like "Saving Grace" from dying an early death? We have to stop watching the crap, no matter how tempting it may be, and start watching the good stuff. More than that, we have to convince our friends to do the same, and that's the real challenge.

Anyhow, I'm ranting and I'm sure most of you saw this ridiculously long post and gave in to what effects us all, our inability and lack of time to concentrate on anything more than two or three paragraphs. Heck, even I would have probably scrolled right past.

Oh well, at least I don't have to live with the guilt of giving birth to nationally syndicated and televised death matches using convicts, it's an old concept. If you want to see the latest film that takes advantage of this, trust me, it's coming to a theater near you.

**** 3:15PM - Little update on this cancellation notice, it wasn't TNT that killed the show, it was the studio - Fox TV! Oh I despise these cretins...they were the bastages that killed "Firefly" too!***



  1. Hi Joe!

    I watch very little television because so much of it is just plain silly or boring. Sometimes when I do end up watching, usually when I am sick and don't have the energy to muster for much of anything, I am kind of left wondering who the executives who plan the tv shows and schedule the line ups for the networks are and what they are thinking.

    I write also and I am very attuned to stories. For me television is just too predictable. If you know that a certain show is a particular genre, that the show is a total of 44 minutes roughly, and that certain elements have to happen within different sections of the script to fit in between commercial breaks, you can watch the first few minutes of any show and know what the entire episode will be about. This is why I quit watching television.

    Sometimes a new show will come along and surprise me. The last one was the first season of Dexter. But by second season they had taken some predictable routes and I quit watching.

    Firefly was another exceptional show and it was mind boggling why it was not continued when the science fiction channel that season chose to pick up Shannon Doherty's Fear Factor instead.

  2. Oh my god! (girly scream!)

    You liked Firefly?!

    Anne - I think I've truly fallen for you this time...marry me? :)

    Actually it was FOX Television then as now with Saving Grace, that canceled it.

    I could rant for hours about what morons they were to drop it, or at the very least have the decency to sell franchise to another studio...AAUGH! (My second Charlie Brown scream for the day.)

  3. Reality TV works for the same reason people watch Nascar. No one watches to see a bunch of suped up cars with Viagra, Mello Yellow and Firestone logos make a left turn for 200, 300 or 500 laps. They watch for the crashes. The more spectacular the crash, the better the audience likes it.

    More people watch the American Idol audition shows than the actual competition for the simple fact we want to see the freaks!

    Nice is boring. Good is boring. Sane is boring.

    Sex, craziness, evil, death, destruction... That's facinating! (well, it is).

    We can try to blame this trend on technology, and maybe there is some truth to that idea. It does seem that about the same time that we were twisting the controller knobs for Pong gleeflully back and forth, ADD was first diagnosed. More video games, more ADD. I heard from a guy at the local game store that the Nintendo DS was more popular than the PSP not because of the price, but because the games were shorter. Kids didn't want to play something where the game lasted more than 10-20 minutes. So Long RPG's. We hardly knew ya.

    Now suddenly everyone has cell phones with texting capabilities and ADD got worse. Communications are limited to 140 characters or less. BRB, LOL, Bye4now were created to save characters and are now part of the common vernacular. But it adds to the ADD problem.

    MySpace you could write stories, rants, commentaries and whatever else your heart desired. And people could comment without limit. Facebook shortened that up a bit (ADD) but there was still enough space for a reasonable bit of communication, and some features like Notes, allowed as much detail as you wished. But that is still too much to digest, so along comes Twitter which combines the idea of 140 character texts, with the social networking of a MySpace or Facebook. (My opinion: This actually encourages ADD)

    Now kids don't want to take the time to read a book when they can just see the movie. I try to tell my kids all the time that books are so much better because most of the richness of detail of the characters are left out of movies.

    But I'm straying a bit from my point. (Must be a touch of the ADD).

    We are among the viewing minority and the productions we like will never last as long as we'd like. We can rant about the greedy networks all we like, but it won't change the facts. They're in it for the money. The prime advertising demographic is ages 15-30. These ages are buying what the advertisers are selling. Not us. Therefore, they control what we get to see and hear.

    Want and love of money does seem to be the root of evil doesn't it? Advertising culitvates that desire as surely as a mother nurtures a newborn.

    Now when you remember your parents and grand parents complaining about "Kids these days..." you start to understand what they felt.

    Sorry "Joe" this comment is probably longer than your post. Take the ADD med's and you should be able to get through it ;)

  4. LOL! Awe crap...I gots me the ADD. Hey Keith...ADD and AD&D...there's no connection between the two...right? ;)

    No but seriously good points, I just wish that we could do a little re-regulation from the offices of the FCC. I'd like to return to some of the requirements broadcasters used to have to adhere to. I'd like news to be NEWS and not PROPAGANDA, and maybe we could insist that 20% of all programming be dedicated to artistic and dramatic content. Of course we'd have to make sure that they couldn't claim daytime soaps, and reality TV fall under those classifications...

    If these were requirements for broadcasters, they might have insentive to create and maintain quality content in order to beat their competitors in that very same government mandated environment.

    Yeah I not gonna happen. :(