June 24th, 2005

Jin Shei Cover from sgreer

Would the last intelligent TV viewer to leave the room please turn off the lights...?

And so it continues - the dumbing down. More and more of crud like "The Survivor", "The Bachelorette", "The Real Gilligan's Island" (whose idiotic idea was THAT one, anyway?) and other dumb-ass reality shows, the more potential for public humliation the better. Very soon there will be nothing on TV worth owning a TV set *for*, except possibly as a vehicle for playing one's DVD collections of all the wonderful seasons of Babylon 5.

They did in "Firefly", which was only just beginning to find its feet.

They had a wonderful, insightful, beautifully written piece of drama in "Jack and Bobby" - it bit the dust after one season.

They had a unique, enthralling, eerily atmosopheric show the likes of which I had never seen before and which had me enchanted every week, a true piece of modern mythology in the making - and they canned "Carnivale" after two seasons, and on a cliffhanger, at that.

"Judging Amy" is teetering on its last legs, I hear.

And then I see, in a viewer letter to an entertainment industry magazine, a reference to "that boring drama, 'Everwood'", and I shiver to the core of me - because that is the last thing that is actually a well-written, cohesive, character-driven thing on television today. But nooooo, we need instant gratification, we need entertainment on a grand scale, we need... coverage of the Michael Jackson trial, for instance. Now THERE's enthralling television for you. Ye gods and little fishes.

Yes. Yes. I know about the ratings.

There may not be a billion people who have the grace and intelligence to understand something like "Carnivale", but is there no way for those few of us who were awed by the sheer power of its storyteling to have something as well? Must we all watch the Superbowl, the latest reality show or "Mission Impossible" to be counted as members of the human race...?

And before you all tell me I am over-reacting, consider this. I am a writer. I write complex stuff, not simple kerpow-bang-boom cover-to-cover sex drugs and rock and roll. For every one of those viewets who is brainwashed into abandoning a TV show that requires a little bit of thought and empathy, I lose a reader who likes the same kind of thing. They are killing my audience, too.

Sometimes, I despair.
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