Saturday, July 19, 2008

This Summer Season - Sheer Delight

For lovers of scripted television, this summer is a delight because of the "non-premium" cable channels. In fact, it has been better than the last few fall seasons of broadcast TV. Consider this lineup which isn't every show (in alphabetical order by network name):
The Cleaner on A&E
Mad Men on AMC
Not Going Out on BBCA
The Middleman on ABC Family
Secret Life Amer Teen on ABC Family
Rescue Me Minisode on FX
Army Wives on Lifetime
Charlie Jade on SciFi
Dr. Who on SciFi
Eureka on SciFi
Stargate Atlantis on SciFi
The Factory on Spike
Bill Engvall on TBS
My Boys on TBS
The Closer on TNT
Saving Grace on TNT
Law & Order: CI on USA
In Plain Sight on USA
Burn Notice on USA
Monk on USA
Psych on USA
Add to this list HBO's Generation Kill, Sundance's Shameless and Showtime's Weeds, and it is obvious you don't really need the broadcast networks even though CBS has given us Swingtown and Flashpoint with NBC contributing Fear Itself.

Last fall I started this blog with a six part series entitled The Screen Writers Guild strike, technology, and the future of scripted television. In that series my forecast was that the future of scripted TV was not going to be in broadcast network TV for a myriad of reasons, mostly economic. If this summer's cable lineup doesn't make you agree with me, I don't know what would. The list of cable shows represents 18 hours of scripted programming, or three hours a night over six nights. Comedy and drama. Shows for every interest. No reruns. No fear of some idiot canceling a show you like after the third episode.

I find I like the direction TV is taking. Not every show is going to please the critics or win Emmy nominations. But some of these do both. And a few are even getting ratings comparable to successful fall season network shows. No, American Idol class ratings are not going to be posted for this group, but millions of folks are watching these shows.

Two facts stand out about this summer season cable lineup. First, for reasons that escape me there is a crowd on Sunday night and nothing on Wednesday. What? Nobody watches scripted TV on Wednesday? But, the second fact is that many of these shows are repeated so that you can schedule to see most of them even if you only have one TV and no DVR.

However, since you can't watch cable channels without a satellite or cable source, get a DVR with your subscription if you can afford it. Dish Network, my signal source, even has a multiple tuner DVR box that allows you to record two (or three if you can get digital TV off the air) programs in high definition while watching a recording.

No comments: