What a sad state of television! Can I go on record as saying that, of all the TV seasons I can remember, this past one has been the absolute worst! It's been so bad that I've actually turned to listening to New Age and Bluegrass music to fill the time.
On a positive note, I've gotten in more reading and writing. This past weekend in fact, I got in three books, including a 600-page Stephen King novel. You'd be surprised what you can do when you turn the TV off.
But, seriously, there has been a severe scarcity of good TV shows to watch these past three months. Why? Of course, I blame the Writers' strike. The Writers' strike, which started on November 5, 2007, and ended on February 12, 2008, killed the hope of good quality programming for the winter. Many of the top 20, scripted programs instead went into reruns, or were replaced with reality or game shows of lesser substance.
While the TV networks have had moderate successes like with NBC's American Gladiators and FOX's The Moment of Truth, the overall picture may seem a bit grimmer. I think if this strike has taught the major networks anything, it's that they need shows with writers. Without them, we saw what happens. Television gets filled with garbage, and the American people don't simply become like flies attracted to it.
Let's first talk about the worst award season that I've seen in my lifetime. The Writers' strike took all the glitz and glamour out the Golden Globes and the People's Choice Awards, reducing them to mere news announcements that were the height of dullness. Even though the strike ended before the Oscars could be completely killed, the wake of the strike caused such ripple effects that the show got sucked dry any way.
The result! All three of those award shows saw some of their worst ratings ever. The Grammy Awards, which weren't affected by the strike content-wise, also saw some of its worst ratings as well. No, the show wasn't horrible, but again, it came in February, in the wake of the three-month strike, after many viewers had already become disillusioned by what was happening on broadcast TV.
CBS's Jericho, the post-apocalyptic, mid-western drama, and The New Adventures of Old Christine, the single-mom-divorcee-returns-to-dating-scene comedy, both fared poorly. Both had episodes produced pre-strike, but the network postponed their releases until February when they knew the strike would leave them with gaps to fill. Sadly, because of which, both got lost in that no-viewer wake of the strike.
Old Christine fell out of the top 20, according to Nielsen Media, the company that tracks the viewership, or ratings of TV programs, and Jericho fell out of the top 50.
American Idol remains the number one program, but it's interesting to note that when it started this year, its ratings were slightly down from its premiere last year. Nevertheless, the last weeks of February had Idol on three nights in a row, averaging over 20 million viewers each night, making FOX the most watched network during this sweeps period.
But, its highly touted Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, dipped in ratings. With regard to everything else, most TV audiences got swept away, or it could be argued, they were further fragmented. Digital cable TV providers offer 500 channels of programming. Most users probably just channel surfed away. Cable TV remained largely unaffected by the Writers' strike.
It has been reported that about 30 to 40 percent of homes don't have cable TV. For those few, other forms of distraction, or entertainment, will have to suffice. Most TV shows are back in production, and the broadcast networks have already started advertising their return in April with new, scripted programs.
My suggestion would be, with the traditional spring cleaning set to occur, that TV-viewing audience realize what the past three months have done, and simply forget whatever they saw on the garbage filled airwaves. Spend time with your family. Delve into a novel. Listen to bluegrass music. Enrich your lives in some way, clean your clocks, until April when finally the good, quality TV shows come back.