Thursday Breakdown – What’s Wrong with Television?

I was watching season one of Carnivàle on DVD last night …

And if you’ve never watched it, you should.  It’s amazing.

But then again, would I be bold enough to speak ill of anything starring this man?  Would anyone?

It’s an epic tale of good and evil set in the Dustbowl of the ’30s.  It has some of the best cinematography to ever grace the screen, terrific acting performances, terrific writing, just about everything was about pitch perfect.

It featured carniesCarnies!

And, of course, it was cancelled after two seasons without having finished telling its story.

Good enough, boys.  Let’s call it a day.

Now, this obviously had nothing to do with the creators of the show running out of ideas, or running out of steam, or even ratings (since it was on HBO).  It was cancelled because some television executive thought it was underperforming.

Executive pictured here mere moments before axing another awesome show.

And this was his class picture from kindergarten.  It’s amazing how sometimes you get a clear picture of a child’s future at such an early age.

But you really can’t blame that guy there, because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing.  Not to mention he has a visual disorder.

He sees all the television viewing public as this:

A pair of eyeballs resting atop a pile of money.  He likes money.  Oh, my, does he like money. 

But to get the money he needs to attract the eyeballs, which is a problem.  There isn’t an executive in television that has the first clue about the creative process, or about what it takes for a show to build an audience.  Their business plan can be summed up thusly:

We’ll just throw this here pile against the wall and see what sticks, shall we?

And anything that sticks, no matter how putrid, no matter how smelly, no matter how fingernails-against-the-blackboard awful that anything is, that gets renewed.


Ah, According to Jim.  Let’s linger for a moment on this particular bit of crapulence.  Now, I don’t want you to think I watched this show regularly.  I have better things to do with my time.

Look at it grow.  It’s lovely.

But I have had occasion to watch it.  It was unfunny something awful.  Worse, it was a cruel reminder that there was once a Belushi brother with talent.


But you know what?  According to Jim was on the air for eight years.  Eight tortuous years.  You know how long eight years is?  It’s long enough for almost fifty generations of monarch butterflies to come and go.

Also funnier than Jim Belushi.

It’s also the same number of seasons as Carnivàle (2), Sports Night (2), Firefly (1) and Arrested Development (3) combined.

 I know how you feel, buddy.

So, what does it mean?  It means you better enjoy the heck out of what few quality shows are out there.  They probably won’t last long.

If Modern Family lasts half as long as According to Jim it will be a miracle.

As for me, I take hope where I can get it.  Modern Family is great.  Psych is a heck of a lot of fun.  The Mentalist is clever on occasion.  I used to like Law & Order, but the show lasted so long, had so many incarnations…

Was Ray Liotta’s Law & Order: Left-handed Crime Division really necessary?

…but there is hope on the horizon for me. Game of Thrones, an adaptation of an amazing series of fantasy novels that read like historical fiction at times, political thrillers at others and always awesome.  It features Sean Bean in the lead role of Ned Stark and it will be on HBO in April.  I’m looking forward to it like you wouldn’t believe.  I have high hopes.

I give it a season and a half.


3 comments on “Thursday Breakdown – What’s Wrong with Television?

  1. Modern Family, like you, makes me weep with laughter. So obviously we’re already sounding the death dirge.

  2. totally agree on Carnivale….I enjoyed it while it lasted. I gave up HBO in an effort to downsize my accounts payable. But I have REALLY missed Bill Maher…and now that this new show is starting….it just might be time to pump up the cable company again.

  3. REALLY enjoyed that first season of Carnivale.
    Keep up the good work.
    A follow up from the other have claimed for years to have Orange blood. Go Cuse.

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