Does anyone else feel like they’re on TV overload lately? Even as someone writing about TV all day, I’m starting to get to the point that I just cannot watch everything. There aren’t enough hours in the day.
It doesn't help that in addition to all the new television coming out, everyone has a favorite show that you just have to marathon — “Legion,” “Doctor Who,” “Game of Thrones,” “Supernatural,” “Mr. Robot,” “Orphan Black” — the list is endless. Those shows alone could take up months of your life.
It’s starting to feel like the way to hook people now is to do something outrageous. Anyone see the trailer for “Blood Drive”? Now, I’m not knocking it. Not at all. Grindhouse stuff is totally fun. I love having all these choices, but it does seem like fewer and fewer shows are grabbing a large audience. How can they?
Think about the number of shows that are out there right now. Just think about everything on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, network, cable, premium cable, etc. I told everyone to watch “Black Sails” on Starz because it was an incredible show. Production value, performances, pirates — come on, you guys! Pirates! Often, I’d even tell people how short the seasons were, so they’d be willing to commit to a new show. There’s just so much TV that when people tell me, “You would love this show,” I rarely have the ability to commit to a real watch beyond a few episodes.
It’s not that I want fewer shows. I love that more actors and writers and production crews are working. I love that shows can experiment a little more because there are more slots for their creativity. What I’m getting at, in a very roundabout way, is that I’m having a commitment issue these days with TV. Maybe it’s not you, TV. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I’m just afraid to start something with you because you’re probably going to leave anyway. Ahem. Maybe we just keep it casual?
The problem with so very, very many shows is that people, especially ones who don’t watch TV for a living, have limited hours in the day. Who wants to commit to a smaller show that is probably going to get canceled quickly after being buried under “Game of Thrones” or the coming (and hugely anticipated, by me and probably the rest of the world) “American Gods”? What I see happening is what I saw happen on Broadway in the 1990s: The big shows came in with huge spectacle, and people only had enough money to go see them. Smaller shows disappeared for quite a while. I don’t want to see this happen to television.
Maybe it’s time for the studios to consider giving more of their shows shorter seasons. Networks, I’m looking at you. If you’re going to give us so many choices, streamline them, take out the filler episodes and the flashbacks, and give me the meat of the story. Give me well-contained 10-episode stories to watch, and I’ll watch them. Give me 22 episodes per season, and I’m probably not going to give it a shot.