Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The TV MegaSite's Blog Post #80

Yay, post #80! If you haven't noticed, I've been trying to write here more often. I hope you enjoy it!

The reason I started The TV MegaSite is my life-long love of TV. I do have a college degree, but it is not in media or anything related to TV. However, I have watched quite a lot of TV since the 1960's, and I read a lot about it in magazines, books, and on the web, so in some ways I am kind of an expert. I do not pretend to have any kind of insider's view of the TV industry because I have never worked in it. I am just a fan, but a knowledgeable one. Just to let you know!

I used to subscribe to TV Guide all through the 70's and through the 90's. I now subscribe to Entertainment Weekly, Soap Opera Digest, and Soap Opera Weekly, as well as Time and Newsweek. I do not really do gossip or care about celebrity lives. I only care about TV (and some movies), and to some extent, the actors on the TV.

I have been so lucky with this site because I started it back in the 90's before there was much on the web. I had one of the earliest sites about General Hospital and All My Children. I believe we are still the only site out there that covers both daytime and primetime quite so extensively and has all of the content we have (including transcripts of all of the shows). There are tons of great fan sites and business sites out there, but most either focus only on one or two shows or actors, or only daytime, or on one aspect of TV, or they try to do all shows but don't have what we have. Yes, I'm bragging, not about just me but about all of our wonderful volunteers! Through the years we have had hundreds, and I sure appreciate them all (even the ones who quit). People giving of their own time just to help out other TV fans. That's kind of what the internet is about, at least to me. It's about people helping each other and giving away free stuff. Free time, free information, free music - whatever!

The site was first started because I was into taping a lot of shows, and I traded with other collectors. I used to send around a list of my tapes (this was when I had a 2400 baud modem!), but it got too big to email, so I learned HTML and put the list up on my site. That's how the site was born. It's funny because even though I still have all my tapes, I have no time for trading, and most stuff is available on DVD now. But there are still plenty of people who like to trade tapes and DVD's, so we will always have that aspect of the site available.

This week we lost one of our great volunteers, Boo, who had to quit. Boo used to help me run the site. She worked tirelessly. So much so that I used to call her SuperWoman. I don't know how she did it all. She has been ill and had many other problems, and her priorities changed, so she did less and less in the past two years. We really miss her! Thank goodness that there seems to be many other volunteers always waiting around to take the place of ones who leave. I would be lost if Gisele quit, since she has been running our daytime section for quite a while now.

Here are some more musings on TV.

Saturday used to be a great night for TV, believe it or not. In the 1980's, Saturday was the best night, especially on CBS. You had shows like All in the Family, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart Show, Carol Burnett Show, The Jeffersons, and more. For some reason, Saturday night is now a graveyard. It's not like people just started going out on Saturdays. I think it was a combination of reasons, the foremost being that TV executives put too many bad shows on Saturday and then decided that it must be a bad night. Hey, how about building up Saturday night again? Instead of filling it with reruns and bad movies, how about putting your best shows on there? If even ONE TV network did that, then they would all suddenly have to do it, since they all counter-program against each other. Sure, it might mean losing a little money at first, but then everyone would catch on. How about putting American Race or Survivor or CSI or American Idol on Saturdays? That's what I would do if I were a TV network. I mean, they are all losing money, right? They are all desperate. So why not try Saturdays as an additional night? In the meantime, Fridays are starting to look bad, too. Let's not waste another night of good TV.

It seems like TV networks get these preconceived notions and then are loathe to part with them. i guess we all fall into ruts like that. How about, instead of canceling a low rated soap opera, you make it one day a week? Hey, how about coming with a new idea for a brand new soap and making the writing as good as anything on primetime? Crazy, I know. Find a really good writer and let them do pretty much whatever they want with the show as long as its good and pushes the envelope. Tell them, it can't be anything like what soaps have been before. No stories that have already been done a zillion times. No silly coincidences, no back from the dead, no evil twins, no amnesia, no brother/sister incest hinting, no secrets that keep being ALMOST heard by the person that walks in, no rapid-aging of children. Or, you can do any of those things as long as the use of it is totally original, unexpected and/or funny. Humor and romance are encouraged. Sex is encouraged, but build romances and other new relationships slowly. Be realistic but creative. Then you would see great ratings.

Why is it that primetime can have fantastic shows like Mad Men, Damages, Dexter, Lost, House -- to name just a few! But daytime has nothing nearly as good as these shows? I would even settle for a soap opera as BAD as the worst primetime fiction. There are some shows that I watch regularly, where I love the actors and the writers are great with the characters, but the stories are kind of plodding, or so-so, or even sometimes bad, like Bones, any of the CSI's, the Law & Orders, The Good Wife, the Forgotten, Cold Case, Castle, Criminal Minds....these shows are hit or miss, but I always enjoy the characters and actors even if the stories are utterly predictable or even stupid. Sometimes the stories are fabulous, though, or make me think. I really can't say there are any soaps that even come close to that assessment.

Take As the World Turns, for instance, which just got canceled (it last airs in September 2010). I like the characters okay...most of them I can take or leave. The actors are fine, but the writers don't do enough to make them more likable or charming or whatever it is that they do on those primetime shows. For instance, I liked Paul and Meg at first, but after all the stuff they went through, I didn't care about them after a while. The constant bed-hopping, writers changing, characters turning evil, or crazy..makes you not care after a while. Same with Jack and Carly, Craig and, well, anyone...and Dusty and anyone...and Barbara. I always love Henry, but they ruin all of his best relationships. This is why this show is getting canceled. The stories are bad, or boring, and only occasionally interesting, and this bad and constantly-changing storytelling ruins the characters and makes us not care, and tune out. It's not just ATWT, folks. If they don't start doing something to improve the writing on all the soaps, they are all going out.

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