Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I Love The Smell of Midseason In The Morning. Smells Like Failure.

Let the maneuvering begin!

This is the time of year when the big, mostly bad networks begin plugging the gaping holes in their schedule, usually with turkeys even bigger than the shows they're replacing. We're assuming this year will be no different, and we can't wait.

Here are some of the highlights. Grab a pen, some paper, and a few gauze pads and jot down some notes:

First and foremost, American Idol returns on January 17, initially for three episodes a week. This Geek still doesn't get (in the least) the popularity of this mess, but I have to concede: numbers don't lie. (Neither do IQ scores, but that's an argument for another day.)

NBC takes a huge risk by moving its two best comedies, My Name Is Earl and The Office, to Thursdays opposite TV's top show, CSI. Why? Because they're desperate to re-establish a toehold on a night they once dominated. The bad news: the shows are flanked by the rancid Will & Grace and ER on either end of the evening, and preceded by a brand new (read: likely awful) new "manly men" comedy Four Kings. If it works, NBC programmers look like geniuses. More likely result: ratings are mediocre and the Cocks permanently damage Earl, their one shining ratings star, and kill The Office, which has never nabbed good numbers.

ABC will return the mediocre John Stamos vehicle Jake in Progress, pairing it with Heather Graham's brand new Emily's Reasons Why Not, completing a perfect hour of himbo-bimbo, must-skip TV. The Alphabet Net's summer hit Dancing With the Stars will also return, attempting to mambo back to the ratings heights it enjoyed last year- this time on Thursdays (Earl, are you listening?), and without- at least initially- the controversy that helped the show to a strong Nielsen finish.

Fox blatantly rips off a reality concept- again- with its own Skating With Celebrities, while also teeing up another repeat-free season of 24. All this, while exiling Arrested Development to the Land of Hiatus (merely a stop on the way to Cancellation Nation).

CBS will surgically remove Out of Practice, implanting Courting Alex to Mondays.

And amid all this, NBC will trot out at least two weeks of scintillating Olympics coverage.

Oh sure, there are plenty of other offerings on the shelf, but we'll save that for later. For when most of these moves eventually and inevitably fail.

Sure smells like spring to me! I can almost taste the Upfront hors d'ouvers.

New Study Proves TV is Still Very, Very Bad

A new study, fresh of the presses, breathlessly reveals that young people who see more ads for alcoholic beverages tend to drink more.

Really? Are you as shocked as I am? As in, not at all?

I bet if I did a study of children locked in their basements, being totally cut off from the outside world, they'd tend to drink less. So should we do that? Are we to throw our TVs, our radios, our magazines, straight in the recycle bin, lest our children see some glamorized guzzling? Should we blindfold our kids when we take them to the distributor to buy that ice cold case of Hamm's in case they lay eyes upon a bikini clad Budweiser standup?

The shocking part of this revelation, if you buy into it, is that advertising is that effective.

Since the dawn of man, alcohol producers have argued that advertising has no influence on liquor consumption by young people. This, of course, is complete and total nonsense. But to solely blame some nonsensical Superbowl commercial or an in-store standup display for influencing kids go out and get wrecked- isn't that maybe a little harsh? Maybe if parents monitored what kids were watching- let alone, how much TV they watched- their kids wouldn't be off someplace shotgunning cans of PBR.

As if when you're that young and want to drink, you're influenced by brand advertising anyway. You take whatever you can get. ("No, I couldn't possibly drink that Genny Light. Have you any Heineken keg cans?")

Of course, parents (myself included) know the truth: when kids figure out that drinking is fun, they're going to do it anyway. I guess by these standards, my wife and I should never, ever drink in front of the kids.

That ain't gonna happen either.

Let's face it. Peer pressure is the only commercial kids need. Let these study-doers figure out a way to get kids to tune that out.

Now, if you'll excuse me, all this ranting has made me thirsty.