Fall TV 2006: The Instant Gratification Years

Filed under:Television — posted by Anwyn on October 11, 2006 @ 10:37 pm

I love TV. I watch a lot of it. For me it’s stories and more stories, an addiction I’ve carried since childhood when I read everything I could get my hands on at every spare minute. For me, TV is an extension of reading–more stories, told in a different format. I think that’s an unusual perspective; it’s more the norm to hear TV bemoaned as a replacement for reading, but I’ve always had the reading thing down pat and am in no danger of having my brain rotted (I think …), so I enjoy as much TV as I can. Something I’ve noticed recently, but particularly this year, is the trend towards instant gratification in the relationships portrayed on TV. It’s not a wholly unexpected phenomenon, but I don’t think it’s working out as well as the TV execs could have hoped.

Remember the shows you watched when you were a kid and a young adult? If you were a … what’s that term the kids use nowdays? … shipper, like me, you rooted for the romance and the happy ending for the leads, whether it was the girls on The Facts of Life, Angela and Tony in Who’s the Boss? (yes, all right, I watched it in syndicated reruns after school. Sue me.), or later, Mac and Harm in JAG, Scully and Mulder in The X-Files, or more modern examples like Donna and Josh in The West Wing or Casey and Dana in Sports Night. You rooted for it, and it never happened–at least, not until the show was about to end (I actually don’t know what ever happened to Donna and Josh; I quit watching WW when it started sucking). There was a reason for that–the tried and true formula dictates that sexual tension is what drives the relationship between the leads and that it evaporates as soon as they get together. It’s dead true. It worked. It kept us watching.

But the last couple of years, instant gratification has really taken over. How many shows have I started watching last year or this year in which the leads get together right way or even are already together when the show starts? **SPOILERS AHEAD** for anybody who prefers to watch their television later, in DVD batches.


The Rant: IMDb

Filed under:Rants — posted by Anwyn @ 12:34 am

Is it just me or is IMDb getting bigger all the time and not better? It used to be I could be watching a show the night it aired, get all fidgety about a guest star or bit player, look them up right then to find out where I’d seen them before, and *bam* IMdB had the info. That night! The same night the episode aired! In a big long page attached to the main title page of a show entitled “guest appearances.” Now they have the “episode guide” and “episodes cast,” which is how you look up guest stars–you find the episode you’re watching and they have the whole cast there. Supposedly. Because more often than not, these days, I look up an episode and it’s full of misinformation and completely *without* the information I went there looking for–a few guest appearances or bit players or recurring characters, but by no means all, and certainly not the one I’m looking for. And as for misinformation, the “episode cast” frequently lists stars in the main credits whether they appear in that episode or not and sometimes still list them in every episode a season after the actor has quit the show completely.

It’s annoying. Yeah, I know, it’s an incredible service they do for the average viewer, for free, so why am I complaining? Because they used to have the info. They don’t now. Change should aim toward improvement. They haven’t. It’s too bad.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace