The new TV programming schedule: What is going on here?

I was born in 1970. TV programming was in full swing, had found its rhythm and was as popular as ever. I remember watching my favorite primetime series in the late 70s and 80s. Each season was exactly a season’s worth of shows. No more or no less. Each started with the first episode and consecutively moved through the season week by week until it timed up perfectly with “sweeps week” and its grand finale. If you missed an episode, you missed an episode. Tough luck. Ask a friend. You also knew that if you turned on the TV at designated time each week during that season you would be seeing a new episode. They called it programming for a reason. It worked and we kept coming back.

I liked it. It made sense. And that is the way it was.

What has happened? This is not the way it is anymore. TV has become schizophrenic, random and perhaps a bit desperate in its ploy to get potential viewers. With YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, DVDs and the like, the networks are frantic. Revenues and viewers are way down. I actually saw a TV actor on a late night interview show pleading with the audience to watch his show on the network rather than on Hulu the following day. Poor guy. Poor network. Yea Hulu.

This is what the networks have gone and done. You may have noticed it.

Each season begins on time, its scheduled time, but from there on in it is a crapshoot as to what will be in that time-slot each and every week thereafter. Sometimes they will give you a second episode right in a row. I feel lucky when that happens. At times, and with apparent desperation they will repeat the first episode again. Go to make sure that everyone saw it. Really now? Now some stations have the balls to actually repeat the episode right after playing the episode. That is like a band playing the same song twice in a row in a set. At one point the consecutive episodes without notice will take a break. Not at the end of the season but right in the middle. After the viewer has built up a habit of watching that show at that specific time, suddenly something else will be on. It makes TV a wild fun ride mystery. You just never know what you’ll get. An other thing that they do, usually a week or two before the finale is to air other episodes either from that season or from even from previous seasons. The programmed season’s arc is now completely schizophrenic. And once again the dedicated viewer is not so much.

I liked it the old way. It made sense. I understand that the billionaire producers are only making millions now but they are sacrificing the art and therefore appearing quite desperate to me. The art of programming has been lost. And aren’t there Tivo and DVRs anyway?


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