A breakdown of the current tv climate

There is a certain kind of person I hate, well maybe not hate but severly dislike, the kind of person who claims ‘they never watch tv’. Yes you do, everyone does. I share the same dislike for people who claim ‘there is nothing good on tv’. Yes there is, you just need to know where to find it.

My first rule of thumb, generally avoid network shows. By my count there are 112 primetime shows on network channels (CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, and CW, aka the ‘free’ over the air channels). There are only 6 shows out of those 112 that I go out of my way to watch (My Name is Earl, The Office, Scrubs, 30Rock, Lost, and How I Met Your Mother), and by ‘out of my way’ I mean have the Tivo record them and then watch them sans commercials. There are also 4 other shows I will watch if nothing is on and I have nothing backlogged on the Tivo (Two and a Half Men, Cops, Law & Order, and Law & Order:SVU). There is 1 show I will watch under other circumstances; that being Dateline NBC when it is a To Catch a Predator episode. Plus, there are 4 shows I have heard are good but just havent given a chance yet (Friday Night Lights, 24, Heroes, and Prison Break). That’s a total of 15 shows on network TV that in my opinion are possibly worth watching, or 15 out of 112, or 13.4%. Not a great ratio.

My second rule of thumb, when in doubt watch whatever is on FX, HBO, or Showtime. What I like to call ‘the big three’ of channels you have to pay for. They have a total of 34 original shows that are still being produced, or at least I thought they were still being produced. They have a combined 10 shows I go out of my way to watch (The Shield, Rescue Me, Nip/Tuck, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Dexter, Weeds, The Tudors, Entourage, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and The Wire). There are two other shows I have heard are good but havent gotten around to watching (Big Love, and The Riches). So, that is 12 out of 34 shows that are possibly worth watching, or 35.3%. I know these three channels have an advantage over network channels as they have almost no limits to their content, whilst network channels have quite a lot of content limitations. However, all networks have cable channels that they own or are affiliated with, as well as websites that are or could be capable of airing their programs. I would allow people making the shows free reign on whatever content they want to put into them, with the understanding that they would be editing for broadcast on the network but would be reaired in their original form on one of the network’s cable affiliates or put up for viewing in unedited format on the web.

My third rule of thumb, cable offers some excellent stuff, if you know what to look for. I don’t feel like counting up the total number of original series that all cable stations are currently airing. Instead I will go thru the shows I feel are worth your time to watch. Discovery Channel offers Mythbusters, Man vs Wild, Survivorman, and Deadliest Catch. Comedy Central offers The Colbert Report (my one and only source for world news), Reno911!, and South Park. I gave up on the Daily Show due to not being able to handle Jon Stewart anymore. Scifi has Ghost Hunters. Cartoon Network has Robot Chicken and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. That’s 10 more shows I find to be worth watching.

Adding up all the shows I follow, that’s a total of 31 shows. Granted not all of them are airing new episode during the same time period; it’s still quite a few shows, especially given how particular I am with the shows I watch. Being that I am far more selective than most on what shows I follow, everyone should be able to find at least that many shows on the hundreds of channels that are now available that they enjoy. Is television in trouble in terms of how many unwatchable shows there are compared to quality entertainment? Definately. Is there still some really high quality stuff to watch? No doubt about it. 

I am guessing I probably forgot a quality show or two, so let me know if I did.

As always, comments encouraged.


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