What Broadcast can learn from Cable TV

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Dream, Oct 24, 2012.

  1. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Sports, yep. Anything that needs to be seen live will synch up nicely with ad-supported TV.

    So I'm not predicting the death knell of free TV, but I am anticipating that it won't have much that interests me. I get news online & from print, don't like sports, reality TV or mass-market drama/comedy.

    The fact that broadcast comedy did okay in the Emmys doesn't mean much to me, because I still don't care for broadcast comedies, so all the comedies I like are on cable, just like with drama. But I guess the Emmy people are loathe to kick broadcast to the curb entirely. After all, the Emmys are shown on broadcast.

    I don't expect shorter seasons to save the networks. Doing a 13 episode run doesn't change the fact that there are 52 weeks in a year, so what does that mean? The expense of two different series, whereas you could cover most of that ground with just one.

    So now you have additional startup costs - two sets of personnel (actors, writers, crew), two sound stages, the cost of marketing two shows. I'm not really seeing the advantage here. You definitely can't cover the rest of the year with reruns because the ratings for reruns are tanking, and reruns don't really fit well with the serialized structure anyway, far too confusing for people to follow a show that way.
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Cable is not in as great of shape as people seem to think.

    My wife works in the industry and the subscriber base continues to decline. If the trends continue, it won't be long before there aren't enough subscribers for channels to spend on new programming.
     
  3. Kestrel

    Kestrel Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Just had to chime in here. Loooove Friday Night Lights. Even minus the American football aspect, it's wonderful. :luvlove:
     
  4. degra

    degra Fleet Captain Newbie

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    I'm not looking for a timeless masterpiece when I watch older shows but like I've repeatedly said they are at least entertaining which I personally don't find with 99.99999999999% of shows these days.

    And I'm not sure even shows today are that sophisticated or smart. Sure structurally they play around and try to weave complicated mythologies--but I've yet to see one show including LOST pull it off without being revealed as a colossal mess where nothing makes sense. And a lot of the so-called sophisticated stuff seems overwrought and pretentious which isn't the same thing as smart.
    TNG had a rough start--true enough but the characters were interesting enough that I could stay with it even if the stories werent always great(and I am one of thosefans that don't think the series first few years were as atrocious as many).

    The problem with a lot of programs these days is they don't take the time to develop interesting characters in the first season and then throw them into more complicated storylines--in my opinion that doesn't help hold onto viewers. They start off in the middle of things and in a massive arc and they become little more than pawn of the writers.

    I would also argue that TNG or The X-Files may have had rocky beginnings but managed to become something really good. Ultimately doing what most tv shows nowadays can't--put out 26 episode seasons of mostly good to great episodes with only the occasional bad or awful show and on top of that managing to do that not just for one season(i.e. Heroes S1) but for 4 or 5 before falling apart--I thought TNG S3-6 were solid, TXF S2-5 were as well.

    In theory, yes but there have been plenty of counterexamples to this--True Blood, Terra Nova, Alcatraz, Falling Skies, Persons Unknown, The Gates, Torchwood, etc.

    And I could argue that maybe the reason tv shows nowadays need fewer episodes is that the writers simply aren't as creative as their predecessors who in 80s/90s had 26 episodes in a season back then and a great many managed to put out fairly good seasons with very little evidence of burn out.

    I'm not terribly crazy about 13 episode seasons. Hill Street Blues, Dallas(and many other primetime dramas), Heroes S1 had 20+ episode seasons and managed to come up with tightly written season long arcs with virtually no filler to speak of.
     
  5. bullethead

    bullethead Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    That's because the service they provide is pretty overpriced, bundled with channels mot people wants, and a lot of the content can be obtained through Hulu, Netflix, and illegal downloads. A la carte pricing might help, but more legal streaming options might make up for declines in the subscriber base as well.
     
  6. Kelthaz

    Kelthaz Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Stopped reading right here.
     
  7. cylkoth

    cylkoth Commodore Commodore

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    This may be a dumb question, but are freelance writers still hired these days? I recall reading years ago-during the later Trek era, how shows were increasingly closing the door on bringing in freelancers, and going entirely staff written. But I'm not sure how widespread that was-if ever, beyond the genre shows we pay far closer attention to ( behind the scenes details). ENT's lackluster first 2 seasons are often credited to Berman and Braga choosing to write almost all the episodes themselves. Fourth season gets alot of love (which baffles many) because things really did feel different with a new writing team installed, whether that was pure perception or not.

    Closing off the staff to outside voices was a reason many felt had a negative impact on the Stargate franchise. Long term staff writers needed fresh people in the room to bounce ideas off, but without them, they kept to the same old, same old, creating the feeling of staleness.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's just silly. In every generation, there are people who insist that the way things were in their youth were intrinsically better than the way they are now. But that's an illusion arising from a quirk of human neurology and memory. We tend to recall positive memories more clearly than negative ones, so when we look back on the past, we perceive the illusion that it had fewer negatives than the present. This is reinforced by the fact that the good TV shows and movies from the past get remembered and re-aired and re-released for a long time thereafter, while the high volume of lousy shows and movies tend to fade into obscurity -- again creating the false perception that there's more bad stuff in the present than there was in the past.

    It's hard to see how the TV of the past could be called more creative when it was mostly just recycling the same formulae every week for years on end, without any meaningful growth or change for the characters. It was really just a different kind of creativity with a different focus. Back then, they didn't have home video and the Internet and such to give an overview of series as a whole, and often it wasn't possible to ensure you'd see every episode, since if you missed one it might never be available again. So there was more emphasis on an anthology-style approach, with the focus being on creating individual, standalone tales which had their own beginning, middle, and end but didn't really alter things for the series as a whole, since their self-contained nature meant they'd never be referenced again. These days, the focus is more on overarching stories and episodes that have lasting consequences and form pieces of a larger whole. It's a different approach with different goals, and so it's invalid to compare them by a single set of standards.


    I think that may be a misunderstanding of what actually happened. Rather, TNG, DS9, and VGR had a unique policy of opening their doors to unagented freelancers, thanks to Michael Piller. Most shows would only take pitches from freelancers who had agents, but the Piller-run Trek shows were open to spec scripts from anyone who signed a release form. They were pretty much the only shows in the industry that had that open policy, and ENT didn't continue it. But that wasn't about staff vs. freelancers, but just about agented freelancers vs. unagented ones.


    That's not true either. In season 1, they only scripted eight episodes and wrote or co-wrote story outlines for ten more. In season 2, they scripted eight and did stories for five. So they contributed to 31 out of the first 52 episodes, more than half, but hardly "almost all." The show's staff included other writers like Mike Sussman, Phyllis Strong, Chris Black, and Andre Bormanis. Season 1's staff also included Fred Dekker and Andre & Maria Jacquemetton (whose work I rather liked). Season 2 lost those three but added John Shiban and David A. Goodman.

    And there were a few scripts credited to freelancers, such as James Duff ("Fortunate Son"), Alan Cross ("Fallen Hero"), and David Wilcox ("Marauders"). In general, yes, shows are more staff-driven these days because of their tighter continuities, but they're not completely closed to freelancers.
     
  9. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Is TV viewership declining overall?

    Keep in mind, premium cable doesn't care about the 18-49 demo, since they have no ads.
     
  10. degra

    degra Fleet Captain Newbie

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    I rewatch a lot of those older shows and personally feel that they still hold up and are as satisfying as they originally were--and this is after having sampled a lot of contemporary programs--so it isn't like I have some nostalgia coloring my impressions--I've basically watched them side-by-side.

    Sure every tv era has horrible shows but I have found that the 00s have had the worst and the ratio of good to bad based on what my viewing schedules were is also the worst. Sure shows these days look better visually but I still stand by my assertion that earlier decades esp the 80s/90s had much better tv shows, better writers, more consistency in quality within a season as well as over the lifetime of a show, more engaging memorable characters. All that has been replaced by unnecessarily complicated storytelling that just falls to pieces in the long run, unevenness in storytelling, poorly edited episodes, whiplash pacing and unlikeable characters.

    Back in the 80s/90s the self contained stories were at little fresher in my opinion(I'll take TNG, The X-Files standalones over say Fringe, Haven, etc). There was most definitely serialized storytelling in a lot of primetime dramas and I'll point out they didn't have to be the convoluted messes that dragged out stuff for years with no answers or weak ones. And probably most importantly the characters were enjoyable to watch which is hard to say these days because tv characters have become cyphers, plot devices, bland cardboard cutouts or misanthropes you can't stand to watch. And no one is going to convince me sitcoms are better today.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You've watched the good shows from that era, the ones that were good enough to last and be remembered and get released on video decades later. Your selection is therefore biased toward the positive and is not statistically representative of the whole. Of course the good shows from that era still hold up, but there was just as much ridiculous crap back then as there is now.


    But what I'm saying is that that perception is based on an uneven comparison, because your impressions of the past are biased in a way that your impressions of the present are not. Of course that's what you believe, what a ton of people have always believed in every single generation, but that belief cannot be trusted because of the neurological and environmental biases that shape it. True insight requires questioning your own perceptions. We are all fallible observers, and unless we identify the flaws in our own perceptions, we will always be misled by them.
     
  12. Kegg

    Kegg Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I like it to the point I'm seriously considering Nashville when another British channel airs it next year 'cause Connie Britton. And that's the only network drama I was considering, to tie it relevantly to the topic of discussion.
     
  13. Foxhot

    Foxhot Commodore Commodore

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    HILL STREET BLUES is still the finest TV drama ever made. It easily ran 22 episodes virtually every year and never had any dogs in the group....only classics. Only '60s STAR TREK and PRISONER: CELL BLOCK H approach its level of excellence.

    Well, actually, OZ did also, though that averaged a mere eight episodes a year, flimsy even for HBO output. It was every bit as good as THE SOPRANOS ever was, and one year it managed to run a whopping 16 episodes. It'd be nice to have HBO's current shows match that.
     
  14. cylkoth

    cylkoth Commodore Commodore

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    Thank you for the clarification concerning the freelancer issue. Much appreciated. And my use of 'most of' was more dramatic than intended. In reviewing ENT;s S1 episode guide, I see that the stronger episodes-well, at least to me, were the ones were B&B didn't write the teleplay for. :vulcan:
     
  15. degra

    degra Fleet Captain Newbie

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    I think I acknowledged there was crap back then like there is now but I also stated that there weren't nearly as many good shows produced now as then. Even the so-called "better" shows like LOST or BSG were ultimately a mixed bag. LOST judged as a whole is seriously disappointing given how everything played out and BSG had all sorts of problems with editing, execution of storylines, weak villains etc.




    Way too much psychobabble. I enjoyed certain shows that appealed to me when I was 10--some have held up and others I see as crap. I enjoyed certain shows that appealed to me in my teens and they still do while others didn't age as well. The point is I'd like to think my tastes are as good or even better in my 30s and if today's tv shows can't keep up with my evolving tastes I'd argue they are worse now--I can barely count on one hand how many shows in the past ten years that were just barely passable that I even watched on a regular basis compared to how many I watched 15 years ago for instance. And you seem to think all the shows I liked years ago I still can watch and that is wrong.

    I don't think there is a single one I truly enjoyed through and through and ever see myself revisiting down the road.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You prove my point. Sad.
     
  17. Kestrel

    Kestrel Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm definitely enjoying Nashville so far - I checked it out for the same reason - and it's good soapy fun but it's nowhere neare FNL's level in terms of writing or characters. Still, Connie Britton does a great job as always and Panettiere isn't bad either, and it's only 3 episodes in after all.
     
  18. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Here's a good article that provides a lot of context.

    You can't just look at the initial ratings, since DVR bumps are getting bigger all the time.

    And yes, some DVR users do still watch ads, amazingly enough.

    Even if they don't, the TV business has ways to make fast forwarding less palateable.

    And advertises will chase eyeballs as they leave TV anyway.

     
  19. John Mason

    John Mason Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    Several things...... oh right....:bolian:
     
  20. stj

    stj Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yes, shorter makes it more likely the producer's of the program will make more good episodes.

    Serialized? Open-ended serialization is usually catastrophic, and there is no evidence at all that cable, premium or basic, is immune to the structural problems that damage the artistic quality of open-ended serials. The Sopranos literally could not find an ending. Dexter is a pitiful shadow of itself. Rome was running out of characters. Even The Wire had problems in its fifth season.

    Serialized and shorter, i.e., serials with an end planned don't suffer the same kinds of structural problems though.

    How much patience depends upon how much you can afford, and that has nothing to do with "learning from cable."

    Braver? Women's breasts and simulated sex are not especially brave. When it comes to bravery, cable's can be measured by the combined length of exposed penises.

    What is truly interesting is what's not there, which is the absence of commercials. Frankly, a lot of cable doesn't make very good use of the absence of commercials. As near as I can tell most copy the act structure imposed on broadcast TV by commercial breaks. Always hoping for broadcast/basic cable syndiation?

    The number one reason for decline in audience I think is the increasing number of commercials. The number two reason I think is the increasing number of reality/game shows. They may get more eyeballs but they lose interest in television as a genuinely entertaining medium, one that can engage deeper emotions.