The Soothsayer's TV Diamonds in the Rough

Posted by: Dean Kish  //  June 25, 2004 @ 12:00am

Filed under: Features

Have you ever begun watching a new television show at the beginning of the fall season and become immediately hooked? What makes that show appeal to you? Is it an actor or actress? Is it the show's writing? Or are you hooked because everyone at work talks about it by the proverbial water cooler?

I am not talking about a show that goes on for 10 seasons and becomes part of nostalgia, like Friends or Law & Order. I am talking about those little shows that seem to debut, then flutter off into the cancellation void and are forever lost.

Why do our favorite shows always feel the sharpness of the network axe?

It seems that every show that paves new ground or erupts with writing brilliance falls by the wayside. The only shows these days that seem to fight to survive and often do are cable-ready shows. In a cluttered network world of constant incarnations of Law & Order and CSI coupled with the latest reality craze in its umpteenth version, will we ever again see a show worth watching?

Do you think cult hits like Nip/Tuck, The Dead Zone, and The Shield would survive on a network? Not in a million years.

Thanks to the emergence of DVD and the radical sales of such canceled shows as Firefly, Family Guy, and Futurama, we may finally see networks eat their own axes. There are so many short-lived series that deserve to have a second life on DVD. For fans of television, we remember a lot of these little gems and we clamor to watch the episodes over and over. Do you have a favorite lost show?

In recent months I have found a new way to enjoy some of the lost and forgotten shows that have been overlooked by networks in recent years. Some of the series I have gone back and looked at have included Veritas: The Quest (Jan 2003, ABC), Now and Again (Sept. 1999, CBS), and the amazing Miracles (Jan 2003, ABC).

Each of those series have found new viewers in syndication and I have to give credit to the Sci-Fi network for allowing viewers to enjoy them again and again. Now bring them to DVD.

I guess what I am getting at is that there is so much untapped potential out there, but most of us aren't aware of it at all. It just isn't the networks, but the "reality-zombies" who want to see another Bachelor find another "barbie-doll" bride of the hour. Okay, that is harsh, but it is the truth. Genius is lost because we are "voyeur-zombies".

Don't scream from the rooftops when your favorite show is cancelled. Tell a friend about your show and give them a video of it. Get them to know your pain. Start a website or a mailing list so you can get together with other TV addicts and spread the word.

These kinds of things may not be for you. If you are one of these people who is ecstatic that finally we are going to see the DVD releases of lost classics like Sledge Hammer, Wonderfalls, and The Greatest American Hero, or might be waiting patiently for the 40-volume complete series set of the Six Million Dollar Man, then you are possibly a TV fan like me.

Did you watch with baited breath as the last Bachelor kisses his future 40-minute bride or did you buy Kelly Clarkson's debut CD? Were you addicted to Joe Millionaire? Or worst yet, did you buy William Hung's debut CD? Then you might be a "reality-show-zombie".

The main difference between reality shows and television gems is longevity. There is nothing to be made after a reality show ends. It is the here and now. Dramas, comedies, and other scripted shows have various lifetimes on cable and hopefully DVD. Do we really still care who the first Bachelor was? Do we care that a naked guy named Richard Hatch won the first Survivor? Do we realize that the next Survivor will be #9? Come on, most great shows don't even get that many seasons.

We need to find a way to kill reality TV and bring back shows that make us cry, cringe, and scream in joy. I want to get involved with characters with integrity, pride, and devotion. I want to break from the "reality coma" and be moved by television again. I don't want to see another set of Jerry Springer rejects square off for a million dollars. I don't want to see Ken find Barbie among 25 other hopefuls. And please god let there be no more William Hungs.

Is there a show you adore? Do you want to take back your television set? I know I do. How about you? So Says the Soothsayer (dwkish@shaw.ca).

Tags: lists, Veritas: The Quest, Now and Again, Miracles, Firefly, Family Guy, Futurama, Wonderfalls, Sledge Hammer, The Greatest American Hero

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