Wednesday , April 17 2024
Monday nights are overloaded with good TV, and the changes networks seem to be instituting aren't helping (they're not hurting either).

The Changing Televisual Landscape

As I sit here rooting around in my desk, desperately searching for my license to kill (one must be prepared for this Friday), I find myself again amazed at the sheer quantity of television I consume on Monday nights.

Last night I sat down and watched Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, How I Met Your Mother, Heroes, My Own Worst Enemy, and Boston Legal. Sadly, though it was sitting there waiting for me, I didn't quite make it to Chuck or Top Gear (I'll get there tonight, I promise). I know that I've said it before, but it bears repeating — that's a lot of television.

Of course, scarily, we're about a third of the way into the television season. I don't mean that in terms of time, but rather in the quantity of episodes that will be produced. Sarah Connor aired its eighth episode of the season last night, Boston Legal did the same. Other series haven't done quite as many, but those two, if they were doing 22 episodes this season (a full season order) are already passed the one third mark. And, while Sarah Connor may do 22 episodes, Boston Legal is going to end with its 13th, making that show well past its halfway point.

What does that mean? It means that it's going to be a long December. Though, in terms of television, it is every year. Once we get through the November Sweeps (and we're almost halfway there), we'll probably only get one or two new episodes until some point in January. Of course, then we'll get new episodes through the end of February before we are forced to endure more repeats. Then, May will come, and we'll get new episodes, but only before everything goes back to repeating all summer long.

Wait, I take it back, we're not going to have very many repeats, are we? Networks are moving away from that model (or so it seems to me). Networks seem to be airing more new series/specials in order to avoid week after week after week of repeat. For instance, once Sarah Connor finishes its run of new episodes this fall, it might do one or two repeats, but probably not more than that. Instead, it'll disappear until FOX relaunches the show on Friday nights in mid-February. That's a long time to go without even repeats on the network. I'm not saying that FOX's strategy is wrong, I'm just saying that the networks seem to be adapting (maybe not successfully) to audience fragmentation due to cable, DVDs, video games, etc.

Good for them, and while writing the obituary of network television is a well-worn, popular pastime, I don't buy it. Things are certainly different in the televisual world than they were 10 years ago, and I think that the networks are going to continue to evolve, they will not stand idly by while their market share evaporates. Their changes may not always be successful, but they're going to try.

If only I could convince them that they need to transfer some of the good shows off of Monday night.

About Josh Lasser

Josh has deftly segued from a life of being pre-med to film school to television production to writing about the media in general. And by 'deftly' he means with agonizing second thoughts and the formation of an ulcer.

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