by • May 10, 2011 • Columns, The State of TelevisionComments (0)166

The State of Television #7 05/10/11

The State of Television is a weekly column that highlights and sums up the biggest and most important news regarding the small screen. From ratings news to cancellations to cast shake-ups, The State of Television brings you everything you need to know about that powerful little box in your living room.

It’s draft season. Not for sports (maybe?), but for something so much more important. It’s draft season for my television schedule. This only happens twice a year, and it can get ugly pretty quick, so sit back and prepare to be beguiled by my nerdy efforts to make sport analogies.

May will bring the end of most of my TV regimen, save for the shows which have already ended. BONES, HOUSE (which has finally been officially signed for an 8th season), 30 ROCK and MODERN FAMILY (just to name a few) will soon draw to a close, and I will be left with endless hours of taunting emptiness. Normally, I would fill my occasional empty time slot with a re-run of THE WEST WING or ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, but it has been brought to my attention that there are new shows I could be watching. At first I balked at the idea of adding more television to my schedule, but eventually I had to admit it was the right thing to do. A few shows have retired from my rotation entirely, either due to finales/cancellation (RUBICON, LOST) or unbelievable frustration (WEEDS), and I can’t preserve their former glory forever. It’s time to pass the torch.

I take comfort in the idea that I am not the only one who will soon be lacking television. From what I can tell from water cooler conversations and casual chat in the line at the bank, several reality shows are winding down, as well.  AMERICAN IDOL, THE AMAZING RACE, and CELEBRITY APPRENTICE are all drawing to a close, or have already named their winner (that’s what you do on those shows, right? You win something in addition to being burned, annoyingly, into the minds of a nation?) In addition to the end of the season for a lot of shows, we also have the issue of “right before the deadline” trades. Katie Couric has given her resignation at CBS, with speculation of a huge contract with ABC, Meredith Viera is leaving THE TODAY SHOW, which is causing a major shuffle of their existing anchors, and soon Oprah will lower the curtain on her perfectly marketed “philanthropy.” Die hard fans of specific anchors (i.e. old people) may have a hard time deciding if their loyalty is to the player, or the team.

Though my dilemma is less about loyalty and more about entertainment, it is still a difficult decision to make. June and July will bring the return of TRUE BLOOD, BREAKING BAD, and WEEDS (which really only evokes the general sensation of “Meh.”), but that’s hardly enough to keep me satisfied. Like Spring Training, mid season television barely satisfies the craving.  Until the real TV season starts in September, I will be left with too much idle time and not enough stimuli. Oh, glorious September, what joys you bring: BREAKING BAD, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, 30 ROCK,  DEXTER (with the new addition of Colin Hanks?), and IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA. Then of course, there are those missing players, those shows on the disabled list: MAD MEN, THE VENTURE BROS., THE WALKING DEAD; these shows will be back, but no one is exactly sure when.

So, who are the rookies on my short list for the draft? The internet puts all of television at my fingertips, at the time of my choosing; my options are seemingly endless. I think it’s fair to say FX and AMC have earned their place in the majors; each have shows in my rotation, already, but they are definitely first round picks for available positions. JUSTIFIED, the newest rage from FX, is wrapping up its second season without losing a bit of steam. I’ve had my eye on this rookie for a year or so, now, but have avoided the show due to a lack of interest in men with southern accents.  Basing my picks on my attraction to the main characters would have kept me from seeing BOARDWALK EMPIRE and SONS OF ANARCHY. Excuses like these have no room in my new regimen; I take this very seriously.

Seriously, the only way to make this man less attractive is to dress him in early 1920's attire. Well played, HBO.

AMC is 4/4 in my book, if you include Rubicon. Which I do; that show was great and I can only hope James Badge Dale gets another chance at bat, perhaps with another network. The only show on the AMC roster that isn’t on my regular list is THE KILLING. This show has managed to stay fairly high in the ratings, while seemingly not sacraficing quality. AMC and FX seem to have this sort of play down pat, though their ratings haven’t soared to the top, they have always been a major contender to unseat the shows around them. They’ve kept their ratings solidly in the middle of the rankings, never really being unseated by any other original network series. This doesn’t include RUBICON, of course.

Opening up my roster to new shows will require me to do away with yet another of my general rules: avoid US remakes of shows from across the pond. My only exception to this rule has been THE OFFICE, and that turned out to be nothing but a mounting disappointment (not counting the first four seasons). However, this time William H. Macy is involved, and I find it really hard to walk away from him. SHAMELESS, the newest in disturbingly entertaining drama from Showtime, gives us Macy in a role generally reserved for someone less wholesome (I still have trouble imagining him without his accent from FARGO, or as the push-over of a father from PLEASANTVILLE).  The ratings for this show aren’t spectacular, but they aren’t dwindling, either. The lack of access to Showtime for some viewers could definitely contribute to middle-ranking ratings. It’s hard to imagine the quality of the show, or it’s premise would not be appealing to a large audience.

Honestly, look at that face. Don't you just want to give him a glass of milk?

The addition of SHAMELESS, THE KILLING and JUSTIFIED should be enough to occupy my precious, insomnia-filled time. As tempting as it is to add more shows to the roster, I don’t want to overdue it before the beginning of the season.  Also, there is still DOCTOR WHO (which has been amazing in its new season, by the way), SOUTH PARK, THE DAILY SHOW and THE COLBERT REPORT. A delicate balance is involved in creating my roster, and I believe I have made my choices carefully. Though, really, only time will tell.

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