To TV Networks: Kiss My Ass

This article at the Macleans magazine angers me. Apparently, TV execs want to move away from serialization and back to episodic TV, like in the ’80s and most of the ’90s. They have literally instructed their writers to move back to episodic TV.

The reason for this is because of the natural viewer attrition serialized shows get over time, and subsequent falling ratings. Unfortunately, as the article correctly states, the shows that have the most cultural impact are the serialized ones, not the episodic ones. Especially sci-fi mystery shows like Twin Peaks, Lost, the X-Files alien mythology arc, and BSG. Cult shows will never go away. CSI and “The Mentalist” will though.

Sure, not everyone wants a mind fuck every week, but there are some geeks like me who do. So why can’t we have that, especially when there’s space for both kinds on TV? After Lost is done in May 2010, there will be nothing as compelling on TV anymore for people like me. I keep praying that Lost’s writers, Damon and Carlton (aka Daltron), have something like this in store for us. A step beyond Lost, I am hoping for another mystery scifi series, or a grand story about the whole Marvel universe (not just a single super hero or team).

The article in question was linked by some Lost news sites and the discussion goes around these lines: people who can’t deal with shows like Lost are just dumb. Or just old and tired. Lost is an interactive game where your mind has to work at 100% to get what the hell is going on. I say that let these people have their own shitty, brainless, TV shows, but throw a bone for us who try to use our brains a bit more, too.

My JBQ agrees that Lost is the only show that elevates TV into “true art”. It’s a kind of storytelling that can’t be done with any other medium. He also notes that the kind of people who watch serialized shows are easier to target with ads. Which is why Lost and its 12 million viewers, being the most pirated TV show ever, and offering the full HD episodes for free on their site, makes more money for ABC than CSI:Miami’s 17 million (aged) viewers do for CBS. And will continue to make a truckload of money for ABC long after Lost is all done in 2010. Because it’s a cult show, and cult shows never die.

Removing serialized TV is a mistake in many levels. If the TV execs don’t understand that, then they are very short sighted and only care for their current job rather than their company’s future.

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