Yesterday, I posted here on this blog my first column for the great website MonstersAndCritics.com. Not long after that one ran, my second column, about television in general, appeared on the site at this link. If you just want to sit back and read it here, venture forward!

>>The mercurial nature of television, treasure what you love while it’s here

Everything on television is a fad. Every show or family of shows comes, runs its course, then goes away … eventually.

Just what is a “fad?” The dictionary defines it as “a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc., esp. one followed enthusiastically by a group.”

Some fads on television are particularly long-lived, while others don’t even make it past the first episode.

Good examples of fads that have a long lineage include the CSI’s, Star Trek, Gunsmoke,and American Idol.

With the proliferation of cable channels, we can be sure that these shows will likely be airing on some channel at some time, be it FX, A&E or some new network that will need programming to fill its 24-hour schedule.

Even Wheel Of Fortune and Jeopardy will leave the small screen someday, as hard as that may be to believe.

Fads that didn’t last long at all (but should have) include The Middleman on ABCFamily, Profit and Firefly on Fox, Kings on NBC, Now And Again on CBS, and even Birds Of Prey on The WB.

Some shows never made it past the first episode, including Lawless with football star Brian Bosworth, and The Will, a reality show on CBS. Now THAT’s a quick fad!

This is really important for viewers to know, because many of us get really attached to the programs we like. After all, these people come into our homes and entertain us no matter how unprofessional we look. That counts for something in this age of Internet intimacy.

Even more important for us to recognize is that the characters we see on the TV aren’t real. Well, the actors who portray them are, and maybe there is some part of that character inside the actor that allows them to play them, but they don’t exist—really.

Characters coming and going on a series don’t bother me too much, as long as the show I watch continues to tell a good tale.

Conversely, I know some people who really are character people. They sit with stopwatches and log the exact number of seconds of screen time certain folks get during their favorite programs. If that person isn’t on the air for as long as they were last week, it is a bad episode. Never mind if the story was any good!

And we are coming to know that even actors are fads, really.

For a while, those of us growing up with television thought that the people who appeared on it would always look like that—young, virile and alive. But like us, they grow old, and some aren’t quite as photogenic as they used to be, sadly.

I always think of Leonard Nimoy’s recent “retirements” from acting. If J.J. Abrams were to give him a ring and ask him to come back to Fringe, I think he’d come out of retirement, somehow.

Back in the 1960s, most people thought television was a “disposable” medium. When an episode was aired, the videotape it was originally on was erased to make room for the show that would air next week. If you didn’t sit down and watch it when it appeared on the tube, you didn’t get to see it. And so we lived our lives around the programs we wanted to see.

In many ways, that’s still true today, but in a slightly different way. We don’t have to plan our weeks around the television, but those of us with digital recorders have the shows we record to watch at our convenience. Unless the program is one we want to keep, just like the folks in the ‘60s with the videotapes, we erase them from our TiVo’s. The more things change …

What does all this mean?

We need to recognize that TV is malleable and changing every day. The show we enjoy tonight might fade away more quickly than we expect, so we should treasure the good stuff while we have it, the good writers and actors while we can enjoy them, and the fads we love that fill our lives and our televisions each week.<<

Anyone remember this fad?  Here’s the show’s intro:

Did you like this? Share it:

Related Posts:

« »