Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I Watch To Much TV

I like to think that I’m a fairly normal person. All right, that’s a lie, I know that I’m actually really strange, but I thought there were some aspects of my life that were normal. My television viewing habits for example. I always thought that if I watched a show regularly it must be popular, because I’m just like everyone else when it comes to television. I mean I am an 18-34 year old male, I’m coveted by advertising agencies, aren’t producers tailoring their shows to get me to watch so they can sell me things? I thought this until I found out that The Closer on TNT is the most highly rated cable television series of all time. How is this possible? I haven’t seen one episode; I wouldn’t even know when it was on. The only reason I know it exists is because you’re bombarded with commercials for it while trying to watch Shawshank Redemption or Rudy for the 800th time, and yet in the history of cable television no show has ever been watched by as many people as The Closer (Side Note: Isn’t Kyra Sedgewick married to Kevin Bacon? That alone is enough to turn me off of a show).

I was unsettled by this news so I decided to take a closer look at the Nielsen ratings. There was not a single show I watch in the top twenty. I realize this week is a little skewed because of holidays and football, and there are some shows I enjoy that will be there once they come back from hiatus or start the season (Lost, Heroes, 24 to name a few) but come on. 12 of the 17 not football shows in the top twenty are detective or lawyer shows. What is the deal with all these shows? I’m not saying they aren’t good, I used to watch Law and Order a lot, and CSI holds my attention from time to time, but how many of them do you need. Aren’t they, in a sense, just variations of the same theme? Shark, Without a Trace, Cold Case, Law and Order: SVU, Law and Order: CI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, Numbers (sorry for the misspelling Numbers, I didn’t know how to do a backwards 3), Criminal Minds, Close Case. All these shows were in the top 20. I don’t get it, how many times a week can one watch CSI. Is it because they’re easy? Sure the plots might seem complicated or convoluted but really you don’t have to pay attention for more than an hour because story lines don’t really carry over. I imagine that’s why they’re so popular; you don’t have to invest anything. What I don’t get is why there have to be so many of them. It’s like when Deal or No Deal became popular, now people aren’t even trying. Ok, lets dig up a b list celebrity like Penn Gillette to be a host, get a bunch of hot girls and you’ve got yourself a hit game show. Everyone is a copycat. NCIS was in the top twenty. All you did was switch the letters around! It’s just Navy CSI and yet over 13 million people watched that show.

And don’t get me started on the shows that get canceled. I had the season pass to no less than 4 new shows this season in my Tivo that lasted 3 episodes or less. My new favorite shows this season are Heroes, Studio 60, and Friday Night Lights. Only one of those shows is really watched by anyone, the other two (which are great shows, really, you should check them out) are on the brink of cancellation. Studio 60 is up against the third CSI in the franchise, it doesn’t stand a chance. Arrested Development was very original and very hilarious but barely anyone watched. The Office almost got canceled; Family Guy did then came back. They won’t ever crack the top twenty but 15 million people watched a show staring Charlie Sheen. Which I’m told is very funny, but it just seems like it came from the sitcom factory. I’m not a TV critic, so I wouldn’t bother to try and review anything. I could just be the case that I like bad TV.

While I was home for Christmas a few weeks ago I started talking to me parents about how awful shows like According to Jim can stay on the air so long when so many great shows get canceled. My mom’s response was:

“Oh According to Jim is hilarious, you what show I hate? The Office.”

Me: “Mom that might be one the funniest TV shows to come out in years.”

Mom: “Yeah, I’ve never really watched it, but those previews just didn’t look funny.”

So basically what I realized is that normal is actually middle aged people who think Jim Belushi is funny. This clearly explains why so many great shows get canceled and why I’m actually pretty happy to be abnormal.


Mike said...

I'm with you for the most part. I was crushed when Family Guy was cancelled and I wouldn't know what to do if the Office was taken off the air. I think enough people watch it now that it's not going anywhere. As far as all the cop/law shows, I like Law & Order and L&O:SVU, but that's it.

"I was unsettled by this news so I decided to take a closer look at the Nielsen ratings." "Closer" look? Nice.

Ashburnite said...

I've never understood why "Everyone loves Raymond" was so popular. I hated that show. Every character was annoying. I still can't stand Ray Romano's voice. And yeah, Jim Belushi sucks ass. Another stupid show. I think a lot of these crap shows are on CBS, who's demographic is older than the other networks.

By the way, my mom doesn't 'get' "The Office' either.

Anonymous said...

Yankee fans are gay

Rachel said...

Have you noticed how few comedies there are now? I was listing the shows that I like to watch and very few are comedies. I have comedies on my "2nd string".
My must watch shows are:
Grey's Anatomy
ER (I know it has been on forever but I have been watching it forever so I know all the story lines and back history. This is my weekly soap opera fix)
Desperate Housewives
Brothers & Sisters
Studio 60

If these are repeats I will switch over to some comedies including:
The Office
My Name Is Earl
Family Guy
CSI:Las Vegas or Miami but NEVER CSI: NY

I also watch reality shows like:
American Idol
Project Runway
Top Chef

If nothing else is on I will watch MTV, Bravo, Discovery Channel, TLC or Home & Garden.
If I want some smut I will watch VH1 or E.

This doesn't show how much of a TV whore I am does it?

Brian said...

i think that you picked a bad week to comment. as you pointed out, there were many shows not normally shown due to football, and most shows were not showing new episodes.

but i was thinking strictly about the numbers. if i consider the top 20 shows, assuming that they are on weeknights that means there are 4 shows on the top 20 per night. with football on it might have cancelled the shows on one particular network.

now we are only talking abotu shows on between 8 and 11. since many are 1 hours shows, that is 3 hours. there are 3 major networks, (4 minus the one that has football) with 3 hour slots. thats approximately 9 shows per night, times 5 nights. that is 45 shows that are in the running. and so the fact that there are some dismal shows in the top 20 isnt that surprising.

once AI and 24 and Lost start back up again, that will be 4 more (AI on two nights) in the top and I think it will be more balanced out.

Then again I have never even looked at the ratings, but that is my reaction to your post. there will always be the 'how i met you mother' and 'malcom in the middle' and those sort of shows that adults enjoy... it isnt exactly 'tv season' just yet.

Los said...

I'm still trying to figure out how shows like "King of Queens," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "According to Jim" are popular. Is our society really that bad?

I was a huge fan of Arrested Development, and probably would've bought a subscription to Showtime if the show had moved to there (like it was rumored).

Eric said...

Brian - I agree that it was a bad week because of reruns and things, but just for the sake of clarity there are actually 5 networks (you forgot Fox, which always has shows in the top 20, and CW, which occasionally does as well), also you have to take in account the whole week, Sunday is usually a big day, and I believe this weeks top show was from Saturday. So assuming every show is an hour, which isn't the case, but we're just assuming, than that means there are actually 105 shows to choose from.

Amy said...

I too am in the 18-34 age bracket. I watch TV all day including while I'm at work. (I have Windows Media Center in my computer. Plug it into a cable jack ... easy as pie...TV at work! I wouldn't recommend everyone do this. I own the company so I can get away with it.)

I've never heard of The Closer either.

Also I have never herd of Shark or Close Case.

I HATE Without a Trace, Cold Case, and Criminal Minds.

I can tolerate NCIS if I'm too lazy to change the channel.

I HATE ALL THE Law and Orders and CSI's MORE THAN WORDS CAN EXPRESS. I hope their creators die a painful death and spend an eternity in hell.

I have heard of The Office and Numbers but I haven't seen them.

Deal or no Deal? Please! Picking my nose is more entertaining!

I am embarrassed to admit. I do enjoy According to Jim, but I do not make a point of watching it.

Love Studio 60, but always miss it. Flip This House is on at the same time and I never remember to program the computer to record it. I think it might be a good idea to do that right now.

David said...

The Closer is the highest rated cable show ever, huh? Go figure. I have a somewhat unique problem. I work some of the most ridiculous hours known to man (11 or 12 hour shifts, different days off every week; God, I hate the restaurant business) so I miss a lot of shows. I could TiVo said shows, but I don't have time to watch them when I am home. I've even stopped watching House because I just don't have time. I tried watching Daybreak, but it's really stacking up on the TiVo. I've already decided that I'll get Heroes and Friday Night Lights on DVD and just be a season behind. That being said, I do have a few must-watch shows:
The Office
Family Guy
30 Rock
That's really all I have time for.
Oh, and are you surprised that our parents like According To Jim and not The Office? I'm not

David said...

And Lost. I can believe I forgot Lost.

Hey Pretty said...

With the exception of How I Met Your Mother, which I find charming in a dumb sort of way, I can't understand the existence of the entire CBS network at all.

Matthew said...

I used to not watch network TV. I hate commercials. I have a short attention span, so being forced to sit through 3+ minutes of ads usualy makes me lose focus. Plus, the concept that you can't say "boob" or "shit" is really a joke. I mean, is there anyone who believes Jack Bauer really has never cussed? Cmon.

So for years I've only watched HBO and Showtime. My affinity for "The Wire" is well documented (easily pre-dating the Sports Guy's). And "Entourage" and "Weeds" are fun diversions.

But I started watching "Heroes" earlier this fall, and I enjoy it. I think I do a little better with episodic drama since I know there's an episode next week that won't make much sense if I don't watch all of this one. I suppose I would probably enjoy "Lost", but I don't have the time or energy to catch up on 2+ full seasons of TV.

As for "According to Jim," well, I watched the last 5 minutes of it Wednesday night (after reading your post). Seems Jim and his wife (played by Courtney Thorne Smith) were trying to escape a tornado so they broke into the basement of some house. And since it was their anniversary they did it in this basement. Only to find afterwards that the family that lives in the house was down in the basebament the whole time. Oh that crazy Jim. What will he do next?