Dec 22, 2009

The Story of The Four Networks

Once upon a time, there were four networks.

One was an orphaned network that struggled a bit when they were growing up trying to find an identity. He didn't like his name, Nimby. He spent the sixties trying to find out who he is, started wearing colorful clothes that people didn't get at first, hung out with spacemen, and ended up found in the haze of the hippie counterculture. He felt good, but he realized they had to grow up, so, they did some soul-searching, figuring out what's out there. Seeing what works and what doesn't. He found himself back in the counterculture again, though they limited their parties to Saturday nights. After a few rough spots, he cleaned himself up, was proud as a peacock, and now called himself Pete. During the booming 80s, he hung out with a lot of rich folks with kids, taxi drivers, doctors, students, families, cops, barkeeps, mercenaries, lawyers, and judges. At the turn of the decade, they shied away from those people and lived a single life while making long-term friends with cops and lawyers in New York and doctors in Chicago throughout the dot-com years.

When the bubble burst, the good times kind of ended for Pete. He finds himself working for a huge universal corporation stuck in an office writing a list of things they want, looking at the past a little too hard, and looking for a hero, though across the hall, he finds one in a bright-eyed TV producer. At that moment, Pete realized he could go to community college and look for a new start without relying on old friends. In the middle of refining himself, Pete decided to hook up with younger chick named Cassie, who came from newer money but was a lot more shady than the people Pete grew up around. Love has blinded ol' Pete and this courtship is about to be tested. Either Cassie's a true match or, as many of Pete's friends fear, a black widow.

Another is a distant cousin of Pete. They used to be close until they moved apart. He struggled to find a place, got made friends with a superhero and later found friends in Milwaukee, angels and single young adults in Los Angeles, and cops in New York, before striking it rich like their distant cousin did in the 80s by hanging out with moonlighters and family dynasties. Lets call him Abe. Around this time, he dated a mousy chick named Diz off and on for the latter half of that decade and vicariously through the families they met, especially a pair of families in Illinois (one was headed by a brash waitress and the other tends to be visited a lot by this scrawny nerdy kid) and this one family in San Francisco.

Abe ended up marrying Diz after SHE proposed, and they had a rough patch for a while. They found advice and friendship from crude cops, more families, and an office worker in Cleveland, but they still weren't happy. Fortunately, they looked to a millionaire for some help and confidence while they got lost in new thoughts and finding friends on a strange suburban street. some brothers, sisters, bachelors, and bachelorettes they knew, a smart yet whiny doctor out of Seattle, a slightly older, smarter doctor who had the good sense to leave that place, and others while trying not to wipe out their good fortunes so soon.

The third network defies a stigma. Her given name is Columbia, but everybody calls her Tiffany, because she's a sophisticated lady. At least that's the way she presented herself. She hung out mostly in urban/suburban locales early one, particularly with a red-head married to a bandleader and a brunette married to a comedy writer. For a while, she embraced her rural roots and acted a little silly. Tiffany looked at the changing world around her with an open eye and became more socially conscious in the era of women's liberation and the civil rights era. She still retained some of her rural roots, but it was somewhat balanced around this time. Like Abe, she also found herself surrounded by family dynasties in the 80s and more liberated women that decade as well. Like Pete, she found herself a little burned out in the much of 90s.

She married a well-known business man who died soon after and married someone she was "familiar" with back in her period of self-discovery. Her new husband liked music, movies, and kids while she was still set in her ways a little. They changed each other and adopted a son of a mountain man. Tiffany realized she was a survivor after her second marriage fell apart, though she did get a nice piece of a rock when the dust settles. She got back to her youthful ways but she discovered her attraction to guys who worked in forensics.

Finally, there's a younger network named Phoebe, largely uncertain about who they want to be. At first, she wanted to be just like the other three networks. This foxy lady decided that to make an impression, she had to be different. Her friends were married with children, sang duets, did impressions, and other things. They were quite entertaining, but they didn't impress folks. At least she found comfort in a colorful family of five who were a lot more animated than her other friends, a relationship Phoebe enjoys to this day. She embraced the sweet life of Beverly Hills, crime stories, sci-fi, and her urban roots until she discovered a love for football.

Once football overtook her life, a lot more people noticed Phoebe. She became a cover model of excellence. Unfortunately, she no longer felt the need to embrace her urban roots and shook that part of her loose once people began paying attention to her. She experimented from time to time and found herself trying to make it big. She wanted to be a star by any means necessary. She hung out with lawyers, federal investigators, the pretty people, half-cat freedom fighters, conspiracy theorists, mercenaries in browncoats, special agents, forensic anthropologists, prisoners, cops, and blank slates. Phoebe sang, danced, tried to find love, got greedy, be smarter than grade schoolers, and entertain everybody. She re-embraced her California roots for a while, but she was really scared to try something new and different. But at least she's still more animated than her fellow networks, especially finding a New Englander named Seth particularly funny and still hanging out with that family of five she met over twenty years ago.

There are others, but their stories are either boring or convoluted and not worth mentioning. So, I won't. Truth be told, the four networks have been around what seems like forever and try hard to remain relevant to today's audiences. Some have adapted to new technologies. Some have put all their bets behind their smaller cable siblings. They've been around forever, but as we prepare to enter the second decade of the 21st century, one will wonder if there will be four left standing by the end of that decade.

4 comments:

Silver Tomato Productions said...

Maybe I'm being stupid, but I don't get which networks are represented by which people.

Care to explain.
Tomato

Jeff Harris said...

No problem, Tomato:

Nimby/Pete=NBC Nimby comes from the NB in the name NBC. Pete comes from the Peacock logo the network introduced in the 1960s and permanently affixed as its logo and identity by the late 70s.

By the way, the "Cassie" Pete's about to marry into is Comcast.

Abe=ABC ABC was once the Blue Channel of NBC, thus Abe and Pete are brothers. The "Diz" Abe courted is Disney.

Columbia/Tiffany=CBS CBS's full name is the Columbia Broadcasting System, thus that's why her given name's Columbia. Because CBS had garnered a reputation of being a quality network, CBS was given the nickname "the Tiffany Network" during the 1950s, and older media rags still refer to CBS as the Tiffany Network to this day.

Phoebe=FBC/Fox The Phoebe comes from the "FB" in Fox's full name, the Fox Broadcasting Company, which Fox hasn't used on-air since the early '90s.

And now you know.

Mike said...

Lovely story Jeff

kevinlkess said...

Loved the story! Please make more because they are very entertaining. Also, we need more websites like yours that look at our entertainment industry and pop culture in general through an objective and introspective lens.

Great work!

Keep it up!