On the Beat 10/27

Too much TV?

By Jim Bucher
I don’t know about you guys out there in Dayton City Paper readership land, but I love some good TV.

No, I don’t let it rule me; rather, I rule it. In other words, “Not a couch potato am I.”

What am I, Yoda?

But there’s nothing like appointment television and there are some dandies out there. The problem is there’s just too much TV and not enough time to see it all.

According to the research team at the FX Networks, more than 400 original scripted English-language series just in prime time (not counting game shows, reality shows, documentary shows, daytime or nighttime talk shows, news or sports) will air on American television before the end of 2015.

What the flip?

So, say you started on Jan. 1, 2016, and caught up with one scripted 2015 prime-time TV series per day, you could not finish by the end of the calendar year.

Assign Jan. 1 to Blackish, Jan. 2 to House of Cards, Jan. 3 to Modern Family and so on, knock out a whole show every single day, week in and week out, over the weekend and Victoria Day in Canada and your birthday, you will not make it.

You won’t even be close. That’s how much television there is. That’s how out of hand television is.

It’s come a long way from when I was a kid with three—count ‘em, three—networks to choose from, and PBS of course.

For instance, back in 1968 on a Monday evening the prime time line-up, which by the way began at 7:30 p.m., was as follows: ABC—Cowboy in Africa; NBC—The Monkees; CBS—Gunsmoke.

That’s it, goodnight.

OK, not totally correct. I mean there were other shows on until 11 p.m. when local news started, but you get the idea. Back then a network show would pull in 30 million viewers, now a show is successful if a few million tune in.

And at the time, the schedule of new shows ran from about September to May, summer reruns filled in the rest.

Today the summer doldrums are a thing of the past; a year-round plethora of shows is the norm.

Now, cut to last year where the FX numbers say 2014 featured a total of 371 scripted series: 164 from basic cable, 145 from broadcast networks, 35 from pay cable and 27 from online services like Netflix.

That 371 number for 2014 was a 75 percent increase from just five years earlier in 2009, when there were 211.

While the highest-profile new shows were streaming services, the bulk of the increase over those five years came from basic cable. You know, like USA, Lifetime, SyFy, Comedy Central, AMC, TNT, TBS, ABC Family, FX, etc.

In 2009, all of basic cable produced 66 scripted shows. In 2014, it produced 164.

Holy Wonderful World of Disney, Batman! That’s a lot of TV, and commercials too. Even the TV critics can’t keep up.

So, really, what does “too much television” mean?

Does it mean more than anyone can possibly watch?

There have long been more movies than anyone can see and more books than anyone can read. I mean is there too much music?

How many times have you seen previews to a movie and by the time you get to the theater it’s available at Red Box?

Meanwhile back on the boob tube, it sounds right that there’s too much television. It feels right that there’s too much television. Perhaps the answer is for networks to stop trying to bring all their stuff and bring their best stuff.

It may be it’s less that we have reached the point of too much television and more that we have reached the point where television has to break open for good, where we accept it’s been a long time since you could look at what was on a given night from a two-page grid in a magazine eight inches high, and we’re never going to have that again, but it was a heck of a lot less confusing.

My guess is it is like nature itself, the survival of the fittest. Who has the best marketing plan that works and word of mouth spreads like wild fire. But don’t you wonder about the great shows that have come and gone we totally missed out on?

Wish I had the answer.

In the meantime I have DVR’d shows from 2013 I need to catch up on.

Cheers and I’ll be in front of the TV,

Buch

For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com

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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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