Thursday, August 28, 2008

Television à la carte

Apparently, Entertainment Weekly is teaming up with Tivo to allow EW editors to pick the recording lists for lazy/trusting Tivo users. Gawker draws an apt comparison to Wall-E in this ultimate model of a convenience culture potentially gone awry. But I feel like there are probably two kinds of Tivo users, the ones (like me) who have it because they're TV obsessed and don't want to miss a single episode of anything. (Unless, also like me, their Tivo has been unreliable in channel changing for the past few months, only getting it right about 50% of the time despite hours spent on tech support calls.) Then there are the ones who enjoy TV but are very casual viewers who want to be able to, say, catch up with a backlog of three or four Desperate Housewives every couple of lazy Sundays. I assume this service is aimed more for them than the real fanatics. While I do fear a grim Wall-E future, in this case I think this service is a chance to get more eyeballs on overlooked shows, maybe some eyeballs that are normally too busy to seek out great, unappreciated series.

Because another thing I'm worried about is this upcoming TV season. It starts next week, you know. Believe it or not, September is almost here. Yet I'm oddly not that excited for the TV premiers. Which is weird because TV is my thing, my favorite pop culture medium, and if I'm this unexcited, how are the casual viewers feeling?

Last fall, I was all about Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Heroes. But by January, they were all out of episodes and the strike was raging. Now, I'm dying for the PD premier, and thankfully I had the foresight to keep eight episodes on my Tivo to watch over the summer. But I can't for the life of me remember what's going on over at DSM, and in fact I forgot its existence entirely until I saw someone mention it elsewhere today, despite it being a top priority show less than a year ago. And not even the presence of Veronica Mars and Julian Sark made me care about Heroes season 2 so I'm not exactly jazzed about season 3. I'm just really afraid that the strike killed the momentum of new shows like PD and DSM and sucked my limited interest in borderline shows like Heroes. I'm not even sure what among the new crop of shows is worth checking out aside from Fringe and Dollhouse. Is Eleventh Hour gonna be any good? Is The Mentalist more than a rip-off of Psych? Normally I'd be all over this stuff. Hell, normally I'd have hunted down and downloaded the Fringe pilot like I did the Lost pilot months before it hit the airwaves. By now, I'd have my Tivo season passes set, I'd have a handwritten schedule of what airs when and what conflicts with what, etc. But I'm so out of practice this year since I haven't had more than two or three shows to follow simultaneously in almost nine months. At least I have a few more days to get into the swing of things.

Speaking of the Fringe pilot, Fox is being kind of smart for once and streaming the Fringe and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles premiers online for students simultaneous to the regular airing. Not sure how successful this will be since I'm not sure many college students make the time / have the access to televisions to make TV a regular part of their life. When I was on the newspaper staff, I did a few articles on television, including one on Nielsen ratings and one on marketing the CW, and I had a hell of a time finding students who gave any kind of damn about television. But my school also had a high nerd quotient (when Adderall is the campus drug of choice, you know you're in trouble) so take that as you will. More laid back student bodies might find more time to follow shows other than Gossip Girl. Still, Fox gets major points for effort. Now I just wish they'd add Dollhouse to that list.

If you're as addled as I am with regards to what's premiering when, AICN has a pretty good guide to premier dates, and The Futon Critic has a good grid layout of the schedule so far. Hopefully we'll be able to jump right in next week and forget all about the strike and the long dry spell we've been experiencing. Seriously, though, what the hell is happening on Dirty Sexy Money?

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