Monday, October 13, 2008

More good news for sitcoms...

Hour serialized dramas are tanking this year. ABC’s Wednesday night-line up has plunged 44%. HEROES is now viewers’ Kryptonite. And HEROES has gone all out this year. Mohinder Suresh has been given a new superpower – he looks good with his shirt off.

The networks of course blame the Writers Strike. (They'd blame us for the stock market crash too if they could.)

It can’t be that some of these series have taken bad creative directions. It can’t be that there is now a glut of them. Or that some of their storylines are so confusing and Byzantine that quantum physics professors would be lost.

What the Writers’ Strike did do, however, was make America realize it didn’t miss these shows when they weren’t on. Life can go on without the spin-off of GREY’S ANATOMY.

(One exception: I can't wait for the new season of LOST.)

Meanwhile, sitcoms are gaining in the ratings. The CBS Monday night line-up (despite not having hot looking actors and show titles with words like SEXY and DIRTY) is doing just fine thank you. HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER is up 14%. Tina Fey should ride the Sarah Palin horse to the winner’s circle when 30 ROCK premieres later this month.

If you went into ABC today with THE SOPRANOS they wouldn’t buy it. And that comedy you pitched them two years ago – bring it back in.

Sitcoms are only a half hour investment. You can miss a couple of weeks without getting hopelessly lost. You don’t need to buy the first three seasons on DVD and watch seventy hours in one sitting to get up to speed. And laughter is the only commodity Wall Street can’t devalue.

So that’s the good news. Now the hard part. The new sitcoms have to be good. Fresh. Original. About something. Featuring characters you care about. And actually funny.

But hurry! There's probably another blogger out there somewhere with a post entitled: "More good news for reality shows..."

23 comments:

Southern belle... said...

It's not just the TV shows that seem to be heading no where fast. For the past few years I have been watching closely and realizing that not that much new stuff is cumming out of Hollywood. It seems that a lot of stuff today is a remake of something, or a sequel.

D. McEwan said...

"Mohinder Suresh has been given a new superpower – he looks good with his shirt off."

He sure does! Even if his "new" storyline is a blatent rip-off of the Cronenberg THE FLY.

Although the new season of HEROES currently airing is snappier and faster moving than the awful second season, there is so much repetition of previously-exploited ideas - yet ANOTHER set of trips to a horrible future that must, by any means, be avoided - and of previously-overused gimmicks, and some too-obvious "borrowing," even for this blatant X-Men rip-off series, plus the fact that Hiro seems to get stupider every year (His idiocy in season 3 is a new low point. He's DUMBER than he was in season 2!), is all combining to make this show more and more disappointing.

The thrill of discovery and excitement that most of the first season had is a distant memory now. LOST gets better each season. Not HEROES.

VP81955 said...

This is good news for sitcoms -- now to come up with some definitive shows for the era, just as the '80s had "Cheers" and "The Cosby Show" and the '90s had "Seinfeld" and "Frasier" (sorry, but since I can't stand "Friends" due to its smugness, I didn't cite it).

Gridlock said...

Heroes a rip-off? No! Say it ain't so!

I cried a little when in the last episode I saw Mohinder started growing thingies on his back. It's only a matter of time before he's picking at his own skin and eating it, I guess.

Next season; Peter finally learns THE secret - all of humanity is trapped in a shared hallucination of reality in order to provide a machine world with electricity. Also, there's cause and effect and choice and Colonel Sanders in a room with lots of old TVs, or something.

Anonymous said...

This will not benefit sitcoms. It will benefit bad reality shows. NBC's "Life" is a fine show; "Dirty, Sexy Money" is very interesting, "Private Practice" (OK that one reeks but the women are beautiful.) So don't be too happy about hour dramas losing market. It just means more writers out of work.

Anthony Strand said...

CBS' Monday night sitcoms don't have hot looking actors? How I Met Your Mother must have an entirely different cast than I think it does . . .

Anonymous said...

The problem with Heroes is that it's become too insular. The kick from watching the first season was in seeing the Heroes discover their powers and how it affected their relationships with real society. Now it's just a bunch of people with superpowers fighting each other...Anyway, the decline in TV viewership, especially among young men, I think can be attributed to one thing...online porn. Think about it. When you were a teenage boy, and if their was an endless buffet of the most degenerate porn available in your bedroom, would you have ever left your room?

Amber said...

I was going to say what anonymous just said, that the appeal in the first season of Heroes was how they discovered these strange powers. Now seemingly everyone is getting powers, nobody ever really dies, flipping back and forth through Time is commonplace and it's really really borrrrring.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I second that Hollywood is now shooting blanks. It's not the creatives, it's the executives who are so addicted to formula and copying the other guy's success that they have 100% risk-aversion.

SharoneRosen said...

I loved the first season of HEROES. Now, it's turned into evil freak of the week. I miss the first season optimism... oh well... maybe ELI STONE can mend my broken heart. We shall see (will we get to see Eli with HIS shirt off too???).

A. Buck Short said...

I'm drawing a blank. Is there a sitcom about a reality show?

Jayne said...

No, you've got it wrong Ken! Mohinder's power is Super Stupidity! He's got to be the dumbest geneticist on the planet!

Mo's hotness was enough to keep him interesting the first season but now he's just to dumb to live! Heroes would thrive again if they would kill off Mohinder, Peter, Hiro and Sylar!

And How I Met Your Mother does have a pretty good looking cast. Plus, Barney Stinson is the best sitcom character to come along in about 15 years!

Jayne said...

make the "too" dumb to live! I'm too dumb to write apparently!

Mocking You, Mocking Me said...

Quick, no peaking, name three hit sit-coms other than, How I met your Mother and Two and a Half Men?

Nah, I couldn't do it either.

Jayne said...

The Big Bang Theory

ok, I'm out!

oh and I see in my correction to my "too" I made yet another writing error!I was up late watching Heroes and Boston Legal! I'm tired. Is that a good excuse?

jbryant said...

mocking: I think all the other hit sitcoms are on Disney Channel or Nick.

Blogette said...

So this is good news for the spec sitcom pilot I'm writing, right? It's like The Office meets Entourage meets This Is Spinal Tap

D. McEwan said...

"SharoneRosen said...
(will we get to see Eli with HIS shirt off too???)."

We DID see Eli shirtless, in the first scene of the first episode, last year, the only episode I've watched, as, when religion comes in the window, I'm out the door!

"Jayne said...
No, you've got it wrong Ken! Mohinder's power is Super Stupidity!"

Although Mohinder has demonstrated enormous stupidity this season, his powers of idiocy still pale beside Hiro's. Hiro has a kind of awesome idiocy that Mohinder can only aspire to.

I'd like to see the episode where George Takai leaves Hiro a taped message: "My son, the fate of all humanity depends on you, and you alone. Whatever you do, DO NOT POKE YOURSELF REPEATEDLY IN THE EYE! MANKIND WILL DIE IF YOU POKE YOURSELF REPEATEDLY IN THE EYE.", so I could watch Hiro poking himself in the eye relentlessly, starting three seconds after the taped meddage ends.

"Jayne said...
Heroes would thrive again if they would kill off Mohinder, Peter, Hiro and Sylar!"

Nope. First off, Peter and Syler both have Claire's immortality power, so they can't be killed off. Secondly, Syler is like the only character this season who has an interesting arc, so far. Thirdly, since Peter and Mohinder are both hot, they have to stay around, and will. Hiro is a "Fan Favorite", so he's not going anywhere.

But they need to elimiate SOMEONE! There are WAY too many characters. Everytime I hear them tout "New characters!" I cringe. NO! No more characters until you get rid of some of the ones you have. The show needs some serious pruning.

It's 1:30 PM Tuesday, and I haven't even watched last night's episode yet. That's how far my HEROES interest has dropped. LOST episodes never sit unwatched that long.

"Anonymous said...
Anyway, the decline in TV viewership, especially among young men, I think can be attributed to one thing...online porn. Think about it. When you were a teenage boy, and if their was an endless buffet of the most degenerate porn available in your bedroom, would you have ever left your room?"

We've had interent porn for YEARS; how would that account for this fall's decline in viewership?

Frankly, I still prefer porn on DVD to Internet porn. Bigger screen. Better picture. (And that's what I was watching last night while HEROES was on.)

As for not leaving my room. Had we had the internet then, I'm sure my parents would have monitored what I surfed, just as they monitored what I watched and read. Learning stuff, like what a croc their religion is, around them was a real challenge. And I'd have to leave the room - to eat, and have real sex with other people.

But thanks, anon, for tearing yourself away from your favorite sites to join us here.

Anonymous said...

Well, d.macewan, I didn't mean this season only, I meant the decline in viewership overall. For years, the lament has been, where has the young male audience gone...and I submit, they are all spanking it like there's no tomorrow. Either that or fondling their xbox joysticks.

Dhppy said...

I like Heroes, I do. But I'm getting lost on that show. I think the problems are a) too many characters (did we need a third Nicky and a second Peter Petrelli?), b) too much time travel ( I have no idea who is in what year in what future anymore) and c) too many characters (some of whom are about as much fun as visiting a grandparent in the hospital... Dios Mio!)

No, you lead the charge, Ken. Bring back sitcoms!

Anonymous said...

Maybe people stopped watching serialized shows because the networks keep canceling the damn things before they finish the story!

I think if a network promoted a serialized show that they said was going to run 10 episodes or 20 and then be finished people would watch it.

Heroes sucks this season because Tim Kring didn't listen to the feedback from his audience during season 2. He thought he listened, he said he listened, but he didn't.

The feedback was, you have too many characters, the plot lines aren't moving forward, going back in time was stupid, your characters act like idiots and you don't have a plan.

What he heard was, speed things up, throw more crap into each episode, add more characters, powers and storylines, make it bigger and it will be better.

He's an idiot and the public is responding by choosing not to watch the show.

Anonymous said...

About ABC's Wednesday night tanking: I am seriously depressed. "Pushing Daisies" is my favorite show and, unlike Heroes, it does NOT deserve its ratings drop (the latest episode featured a murder attempt with a human cannonball. How awesome is that?). I think the Writer's Strike *may* have had something to do with its failure--it was off the air for an awfully long time between seasons one and two, and must've lost a lot of viewers.

And just to clarify: I blame the Writer's Strike on the producers, not the writers.

Anonymous said...

The thing that annoys me about Heroes these days is not knowing who to root for, or who to care about. It seems to me that every single character has gone from good to bad and back again a few times. Even Sylar! Perhaps the theme is how power (literally!) corrupts, but if so, haven't they taken this way too far? I usually enjoy ambiguous and/or flawed characters (for example, Mad Men's Don Draper), but for every single person in Heroes to switch back and forth between teams is too much.