The first six months of 2009 have had a few interesting things occur in TV land. One of the most outstanding so far has been the DTV transition. Originally set to happen in February, President Obama managed to push it back to June 12. On that day, analog transmitters all across the country turned off, which means if you don't have a digital receiver either built into your TV or in a box on top of it, you're not watching any broadcasts.
However, that may not bother too many people. I usually don't pay attention to many ads or commercials, but I did notice the ones for Hulu.com with Seth McFarlane and Denis Leary. Hulu.com is a Web site that provides episodes of popular TV shows gathered all at one place for people to watch at any time.
Many TV networks provide their content for free on their websites. If you miss a show, you can go online and watch it on demand. With the news, not only in text, photos, but also vidcasts, available online, most people who have Internet access already are DTV ready.
But, whether you get it online or off air, the assortment of TV programming has to be sorted. Being a self-proclaimed TV critic, I'll focus mainly on the five major TV networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX and CW. Of all the current choices, which did I think were worthy and which did I think were a waste?
Looking at the awards shows, which took a hit last year due to the writer's strike, I'd say they came back rather strong this time around. The Oscars were more triumphant, definitely revitalized, more interactive and engaging, certainly not as boring but perhaps with one too many musical numbers.
Live sporting events were also a boon. For example, Super Bowl 43 got its highest rating ever. Nicknamed the Recession Bowl, 98.7 million viewers tuned in to see the Steelers beat the Cardinals.
A couple of years ago, daytime TV got a facelift when Katie Couric left The Today Show to do The CBS Evening News. This year, late night TV also got a bit of a shakeup. Jay Leno left The Tonight Show after taking over for the beloved Johnny Carson 17 years ago. Former Saturday Night Live and Simpsons writer Conan O'Brien replaced Leno.
In a time-slot that's dominated with white, middle-aged, heterosexual men, FOX announced it was giving comedienne Wanda Sykes her own late night TV show. Her show will replace MADtv, which got discontinued in May. The black lesbian stirred some controversy when she made ill-will jokes about Rush Limbaugh at this year's White House Correspondents dinner.
But, as one gay woman got her own TV program, a whole bunch lost theirs. Showtime cancelled The L Word, the prime-time series, which ran for six seasons. The show focused on the lives and loves of a group of lesbians in West Hollywood.
Acually, there was a good crop of shows about strong, independent women that got canned this year. FOX terminated The Sarah Connor Chronicles. NBC declared ER dead. The medical drama had mostly female leads in its cast. ABC forgot Samantha Who? and thought The Unusuals, which was about a female undercover cop in New York, was too unusual.
More unusual cop shows also saw their final days before their executions this year. We buried Pushing Daisies, sent Life on Mars into space, and put Prison Break into permanent lockdown.
Between CBS and NBC, many hour-long, scripted dramas were amazingly dropped like they were dead weight. NBC aborted newbie Life and dethroned Kings, while CBS left Without a Trace and The Unit to go missing, as well as switched off Guiding Light, which according to the Guinness Book of World Records has been the longest running soap opera at 72 years.
CBS is in talks to replace the series with a cheaper and more profitable game show like Pyramid or The Dating Game. But, if the past six months have told us anything, it's that reality shows or shows that don't require fictional scripts or actors still dominate. American Idol got spectacular ratings as well as Jon & Kate Plus 8, which had its fifth season premiere Memorial Day on TLC and garnered 9.8 million viewers, a rating of which a cable network like that usually can only dream.
With all that said, what does that leave us with? What are the best TV shows of 2009, so far? Click on the above link to see.