Mar 13, 2008

What I Want (and Don't Want) To See This Upfront Season

The weather is fidgety, cold one day, hot the next.

Flowers and trees are becoming confused. People are wearing brighter colors and showing a little more skin.

That could mean only one thing . . . it's almost upfront season!

Okay, I know spring is in a couple of days at the time I'm writing this, but people like me (namely TV geeks) are getting ready to see what the networks are planning to offer in the next broadcast season. Considering the current broadcast season was interrupted by a strike that could have been avoided if broadcasters and producers weren't so dang greedy in the first place, next season is all we have to look forward to.

But that's just it. Nobody knows what's up. Well, not the regular viewers anyway. For all intents and purposes, for the next couple of months, I'm writing about what I'd like to see come out of the upfronts this year. I'm not totally concerned with the shows coming on next season. Oh, sure, I'll complain, but still, shows aren't a big concern to me.

Here are a few things I do want to see presented by the major broadcast networks this year:

- More emphasis on broadcast television. Yeah, it seems like a strange request, but particularly this season, the major broadcast networks focused more of their energies on broadband rather than broadcast. That's fine and all, but the shifted focuse just makes the need for broadcast channels irrelevant and unneccesary. It isn't true (yet), and we still have a need for broadcast networks here in the US. Now, if they actually acted like they give a damn, I'd like to see them concentrate on the original medium before pushing it aside for the next new thing. Speaking of the next new thing . . .

- PRESENT plans for what they're going to do with the digital space. In less than a year, all regular-powered analog stations (meaning: all regular stations) will be shut down as the digital television format will be the new standard. You've seen the ads, I'm sure. The promise of clearer channels is one thing. The idea of more channels is promising. However, I haven't heard word one about what the NETWORKS are going to do. Affiliates are scrambling what to do with it, either going at it on their own by striking deals with outside groups like Retro Television Network or the late music channel called The Tube, picking up smaller channel groups as a secondary affiliate, or relaying the standard channels the networks are offering. In this case, it's NBC Weather Station for NBC affiliates or ABC News NOW for ABC affiliates. PBS and ION already showed what could be done with additional digital space creating digital subchannels on their own. This year's upfronts is the perfect year to PRESENT plans on what THEY WILL do with the digital subchannel space they're about to get. If there's no plan, well, the whole nature of television affiliation will become not only loose and disconnected, but also irrelevant.

What I Don't Want To See:

- Countless remakes of older and foreign shows. Oops, no chance of that now, is it?

- 3/4 of new shows being "alternative/non-scripted" programming. No chance of that either.

- Networks with limited diversity on their lineups. I doubt we'll see more than two high-profile shows on a MAJOR network (i.e. NOT The CW, ION, nor MyNetworkTV nor any Spanish-language channel) with an all minority cast created by a minority, especially after Cane's "failure." Right now, Ugly Betty is all.

- An end to multicamera situation comedies taped in front of a live studio audience. Most of the ones currently on the air aren't very good to be honest with you. While single-camera shows are great and all, I don't want it to be the norm by any stretch.

Keep an eye on Thoughtnami this upfront season. It should be an interesting one.

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