Monday 24 Oct 2016

Three TV Seasons
Matt Seinberg

I always look forward to the start of the fall television season. What new shows are appearing? What past favourites are returning and will these shows resolve the cliffhanger endings of the last season.

In these times of hundreds of television channels and more cable networks than we can actually watch, I’m of the belief that the four major broadcast networks need to change their programming style to better match the audience. The big four networks should go up the competition of their cable counterparts.

The fall television season starts generally in September. Its first ending is around the end of November, when the repeats start. All the first run episodes start again in January and run until May, when, again, with repeats thrown in for good measure.

My idea for CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox is to scrap the idea of just a fall season and create three television seasons, with little or no repeats. The Fall Television Season will run continuously from September through December, only with first run shows, consisting of 22 episodes. Take a week off from Christmas to January to run all the holiday specials and select repeats of the shows that may be on the bubble of cancellation to see if they can gather an audience.

Let’s call Season 2 the winter and spring season. This will run from January to May, with a one-week break in March, when college basketball gets crazy, and another one-week break at the end of May, beginning in June when hockey is wrapping up. Of course, during other times of the year regular programming loses out to other sports events, breaking news stories and other specialty programming. The winter and spring season will be approximately 18 episodes of shows that didn’t make the first cut for the Fall Season, but programmers wanted to give a chance.

Season Three will be the summer season. It should run from June through August. I see lighter and funnier fare being on the menu and will have approximately 12 episodes per show.

Currently, the cable networks have the right idea. In June, some of my favourite shows have returned, including “Royal Pains,” “Falling Skies,” “Necessary Roughness” and “Rizzoli and Isles.” One of my other favorites, “Warehouse 13,” should be returning in July for a fourth season.

I believe if the four broadcast networks created the three seasons, several things would happen. First, their revenues would go up from advertisers, since first run shows get higher rates than repeats. Second, more people would be employed producing these new shows. Third, viewership would go up for a new show versus a repeat, and higher ratings always equal more revenue.

Right now, the networks shove stupid reality shows down our throats. I’m tired of it. To see comedian George Lopez host a stupid dating show, such as “Take Me Out,” is embarrassing. Sure it might be fun to hang around with beautiful women, but if you can’t do anything with them, where’s the fun in it for George?

The summer time is the perfect time to highlight new performers and variety shows and sitcoms would be a great way to do it. Sure, Jay Leno in prime time bombed, but turning a late night host into a prime time host wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Maybe Regis could host an evening variety show; everyone loves him.

If not Regis, I’m sure there is another Ryan-Seacrest-type of vapid host just waiting for the next big break. How many of us remember Sonny and Cher, Glen Campbell or Tony Orlando & Dawn hosting summer prime time variety shows?

I’m not saying that every new show will be a hit or critically acclaimed. Having two extra seasons to me is another way for the conventional broadcast networks to broaden their appeal in the global world of television production. After all, we do live in an ever-shrinking electronic world where almost every show or anything you want view you can watch on the Internet.

What I am advocating is giving the television viewer more choices at different times of the year, along with employing more actors, directors and producers who might not be working at that time. Sure, summer is considered vacation time. More first run shows would provide work for those involved in television production; thus, many women and men would be happy for the work. Moreover, viewers won’t have to sit through boring repeats. CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox, get to work on it.

Matt Seinberg lives on Long Island, a few minutes east of New York City. He looks at everything around him and notices much. Somewhat less cynical than dyed in the wool New Yorkers, Seinberg believes those who don't see what he does like reading about what he sees and what it means to him. Seinberg columns revel in the silly little things of life and laughter as well as much well-directed anger at inept, foolish public officials. Mostly, Seinberg writes for those who laugh easily at their own foibles as well as those of others.

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