Zoo Station

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The changing landscape of TV

Posted by Chance on October 7, 2006

I find it somewhat ironic how formulaic reality TV has become. When reality TV started to explode in popularity, I would say the late 90s, it was successful because it was something new and innovative. But really, as soon as the format came out, reality shows really started to just follow a certain pattern. Many of the shows overall pattern is the same, in which someone gets voted out each week, or at least eliminated in some way, whether it is the Bachelor, Amazing Race, Big Brother, or the Biggest Loser. That’s not so bad, but it does hurt originality somewhat. There are just particular patterns that really annoy me. The “let’s show what’s going to happen after the commercial break right before we go to commercial break” in which we see the same sequence over and over, or “let’s go to commercial right before we announce who gets kicked off”, or the announcer continuing to say this is the most exciting rose ceremony yet. For a television format that is supposed to be so innovative, all these shows are becoming so cookie-cutter.

I know these observations are way outdated, given that these shows have been out a while, and I know I am probably not saying anything original, I just wanted to point out in television, things that are supposed to be “outside the box” eventually just make the box bigger.

The new format of dramas, and even some comedies, have been interesting as well. This format is one in which each show builds upon the other. Many shows do this to some degree, but dramas are becoming more like a miniseries with no definitive end. “Lost” is the best example of this, and probably one of the first to take on this pattern. We know the show has to have an end, we just don’t know when. People are stranded on an island from a plane crash, and we assume at some point they will escape. Other series, like “Jericho” or “The Nine” (which I haven’t seen but can assume based on commercials) are basically one long story. The characters, and the view, find out more about what is going on as the story unravels.

This is a great format, but this is somewhat riskier. A standard type drama series, like CSI, one in which focuses on separate stories per episode, can go downhill, but it will not affect the earlier shows. Think of a movie or book that you really enjoyed for the most part. There were things to figure out, and certain mysteries were unraveled as you went along. However, the book or movie goes downhill, as certain explanations are somewhat contrived to fit the earlier half of the story, or they are somewhat anti-climactic. That is the issue here. Do the writers of “Lost” actually know where they are going with the show. It is exciting right now, but what if they disappoint us? If the ultimate ending or even later shows turn out to be disappointing, it will affect the entire series.

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2 Responses to “The changing landscape of TV”

  1. The Prophet said

    I definitely agree with you that Reality TV Shows have lost much of their appeal.

    One thing I like about CSI (the original) is at times, the shows seem to have plots that end up solved at the beginning while having a deeper plot going into the next few series. I don’t know if you watched the first few seasons, but Milander was kind of like Grissom’s arch nemesis. A separate case would be solved during the episode, but Milander would never be caught in the other case.

  2. Wasp Jerky said

    The writers of “Lost” have consistently said they know where things are going. I hope they’re right. Few things are worse than a great idea executed poorly.

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