It’s that time of year when people make New Year’s resolutions they have neither the willpower nor inclination to keep. When it comes to television and film, it’s also the time of year where top 10 lists are numbered, notable deaths are remembered and predictions of what are going to be the newest trends in media are announced…only to be proven wrong when we get to the end of the next year and the cycle starts all over again.
I will resist the temptation of creating my own set of predictions on the future of television that will only prove awkwardly incorrect anyway and instead use this time of the year to talk about things I’d like to see … and not see in 2015.
First, I’d like to see more geography on the National Geographic Channel, more discovery on the Discovery Channel and more art and entertainment on the A&E Channel. It seems every one of these aforementioned television outlets have at least a dozen Alaska shows. I know I exaggerate, but not by much.
I realize Alaska is a big state and a diverse one, as long as you like snow, but is the great American audience so starved for people eating seal meat, using outdoor plumbing and living lives of particular isolation? I guess they are, but I could sure use a change of pace.
And although it can be a guilty pleasure (but only if taken in the smallest of doses), I could use less of former 80s pop and TV stars showing up on the Sci-Fi channel to do battle with some incredibly cheap looking computer animated monster who is menacing a beach town.
I know the plot of “Jaws” is basically Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” using a shark instead of bad water, but just how many times can the Sci-Fi channel “borrow” that premise of the local sheriff fighting the resort owner or mayor or whoever because some cartoonish animated monster is making a mess of things? … Obviously a lot of times.
I’ll be getting my “geezer” card punched here, but something else I’d like to see in 2015 is a good detective show that isn’t on the BBC Channel. Meaning, I do kind of pine for the day of the four act episodic TV detective who solves a case in the allotted 48 minutes and I don’t have to have watched seven prior episodes in order to understand what is going on.
Having written some of these relics of the past myself, I know that when done well, they are entertaining television and when done not so well, they can be cringe-worthy.
The year 2015 would also be a complete success if one solitary thing happened on television. I would love if they could change the name of the Animal Planet show “Finding Bigfoot” into “Found Bigfoot.” I know that’s a tall order and a very bad pun at the same time, but I must self-report that I have been known to watch this show regularly.
I’m going to throw my daughter under the Bigfoot bus as well and inform the world that she too watches this show with me. Apparently everyone else in our household is a narrow minded doubter who does not want to entertain the notion that a great North American ape-like creature has avoided detection for several centuries.
Still, the indomitable, but rather unscientific Bigfoot researchers remain convinced of their cause and watching them howl at the moon and whoop as if this is going to have any different effect than all the other times has transfixed both myself and my daughter. If they ever pick up anything other than a deer or a moose on their expensive thermal cameras, we will be vindicated and victory will be at hand for open-minded Bigfoot believers everywhere.
As for 2015, I will go out on a limb and make one prediction. Television will change. The fact is television has already changed a lot. The presence of Netflix and its direct streaming along with sites like Hulu, where people can binge on their favorite shows, has put more power in the individual television viewer’s remote control finger than ever before.
Whether this is good or bad is a matter of what channels or sources that finger is pressing. If you go on the Hulu site you will be barraged with one window after another of television shows. It reminds me of the olden days when we used to have to get in a car and drive to a brick and mortar video store and physically pick up a copy of the latest video release, take it to a cashier, pay for it and then get back in the car and drive home. Looking at the Netflix screen is the same feeling … all these choices and nothing particularly strikes the fancy.
It wasn’t too long ago when television viewers were shown what the networks had and that was it. Now, with movies on every imaginable electronic platform, television is just another conveyance. But in the end, what is being conveyed will always be a collection of the good, the bad and the ugly.
We aren’t spoon fed pablum anymore and that is also both good and bad because if we aren’t careful, if we aren’t discerning, if we don’t seek out the good in our entertainment choices, we’ll be forced fed poison.