Why Network TV Is Losing Its Edge (Part I)

Labels: ,

As I spent the summer helping my parents out with a bunch of housework (and eating for free, a super important aspect of any life choice for a grad student) I had the pleasure of enjoying the use of their TiVo Premier, which is cooler than my TiVo because it picks up an HD signal.  Anyway, good ol' me got a little loose with the Season Pass trigger and ended up trusting the TNT hype machine and trying out one of their new series, Perception.  Whoops.  Holy shit whoops.  Now, I enjoy Eric McCormack when he's good, and Rachel Leigh Cook is the cutest, least-believable federal agent in recent memory but this show is awful.  What it really is, at its core, is an attempt to capitalize on the new "niche" of terribly flawed main characters.  But where Gregory House was super smart and mostly a prick, or Tony Shalhoub was a germophobe as Adrian Monk - and arguably originated the whole trope - Dr. Daniel Pierce (McCormack) is just a neuroscientist with schizophrenia.

Characters like House, Monk, Temperance Brennan (Bones), Cal Lightman (Lie To Me*), or even Charlie Eppes (Numb3rs) have in common an uncanny brilliance that can be positively applied to the world by the right "handler", for lack of a better term. Their brilliance has limited their ability to engage and play nicely with the "normal" people in society, but eventually the communication line kicks through and the case gets solved.  Perception, however, uses Pierce's schizophrenia as some combination of a superpower and deus ex machina to make sure that each episode clocks in at under 48 minutes.  Mental illness is not the added quirk that is a tradeoff for spectacular reasoning or interpretive capabilities.  Instead the good Dr. Pierce uses his schizophrenia to entirely solve his cases.  The actual science that he engages in lies within the purview of a first-year nursing student, so the only thing that's actually impressive is that Dr. Pierce somehow solves all these cases by talking to imaginary people who are supposed manifestations of his subconscious.  And his subconscious already knows all the deepest darkest secrets of the villain in custody or whatever.  Basically, TNT randomly flipped open a medical diagnosis textbook and pointed to a condition and gifted the world this asinine hour of television on Monday nights.  Please don't watch this show.  It's not good.

You may be saying to yourself, "If this article is supposed to be about how network TV is losing its edge to cable and premium stations, why is he bellyaching for two paragraphs about a show on cable!?"  Good question.  Better answer: Because five years ago cable stations wouldn't have had the balls to even try a show like Perception!  And that's what the crux of this and a number of ensuing articles is going to focus on.  Station-by-station we're going to semi-live, semi-regularly, possibly drunkenly explore all the things that various network, cable, and premium stations are doing right and wrong.  Out of this will come a fluid network power ranking, which will be based on show variety, originality, quality, and the all important aspect of taking a chance with programming.  (If you're TV savvy, you'll realize that this means FOX will be losing mondo points for American Idol, NBC will lose even more points for The Voice, and that AMC is probably the fucking New York Yankees of TV until further notice.)  Quick on the heels of this belated post (which should have been up on the 15th but it was my birthday last week so deal with it) will be an exploration of the network TV station that I watch the absolute least: NBC.  So look for an out of order, 'bonus' post from us here at Opportunity Assassins.

Until then, it's your time. Waste it how you see fit.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Opportunity Assassins © 2012 | Designed by Meingames and Bubble shooter