(Yes, this is the face Toby gives most cable shows. He has good taste.)
So, a while back I was griping about how far downhill (try the bottom of the cliff, in many respects) the medium of TV shows as a whole has gone. At least, in my opinion. I don’t like “reality” programs (since most of them are faked by wannabe actors, anyway), or stuff like “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”; I don’t care for police procedurals or most medical dramas (anything that can fall into the formulaic tropes way too easily); the only sitcom I’ve watched in the past 10 years is “The Big Bang Theory.”
Within the last couple years, there have been lots of shows I was watching that ended (and some of these none too soon, I felt), that evidently the whole world except for me is watching and I “need” to (but I’m not), and others that have been on the air for years but I only recently started watching.
Here’s a breakdown of my feelings about the whole situation:
I do not like television in 2018.
After being thrown for a loop with the series finales of “Castle” (what was that?!) and “Chuck” (still sobbing), the intense downward spiral in quality for “Supernatural” and “The Big Bang Theory,” and the incredibly unfair cancellation of “Houdini and Doyle,” I feel let down by the industry as a whole.
I could live with the end of “Grimm,” because the writers and directors did a great job of sticking to one, meaningful storyline in the last episodes, and making the most of character development and creating a satisfying conclusion. “Nashville,” on the other hand, which had reached a perfect ending prior to its cancellation and then immediate reboot by another network — which has ruined the whole thing — is crossed right off my list.
I actually got into “Grey’s Anatomy” about a year ago — yes, in the middle of season 13. I’m aware this is more than arriving late to the party — it’s the equivalent of running in the door when most of the guests are moving towards the parking lot. But I did something I rarely do — I fell for the hype. I’d seen ads for this show for years, and never thought about it twice. Okay, slight lie — twice, since Patrick Dempsey used to be in it, and he is just unapologetically handsome. However, he’d already left the program by the time I tuned in (oh, well), and I’m beginning to see why he wanted out of his contract.
So, very shortly here, my modern experiment with a medical drama will be over as well.
Although betrayal seems like too harsh a word to use when it comes to television, I have to admit, regarding “Supernatural,” I feel betrayed. For the last few years, it’s been my go-to example of excellent writing, directing, character development, and how to keep a weekly-episode show going for 10-plus years without losing your fan base. Now it’s become my primary example of how to screw all that up. Last week I caught a rerun of an episode from season 5, and there was absolutely no comparison to the season 13 episode I saw the week before. I just can’t anymore with this train wreck (crying).
Then there are the superhero shows — “The Flash,” “Arrow,” etc — that apparently have to include some sort of political statement in every single episode. Some are bigger offenders than others (I’m looking right at you, “Supergirl” and “Black Lightning”), but this entire group has become way too liberally-charged for my liking. Whatever happened to telling a story for the sake of telling a good story — and if there was a message to it, it was one that could resonate with lots of people, not just those who subscribe to a particular, inflexible ideology?
Even my pleasant surprises of last year, “Riverdale” and “The Good Doctor,” are failing me. “Riverdale” has quickly progressed from kind of unrealistic to wholly impossible and overdramatized, and “The Good Doctor” is focusing far too much on the other characters and using Dr. Murphy’s autism as baiting for not understanding social graces or being intolerant. That last bit flat out destroys me.
And if we could, for just a minute, discuss children’s television? What in the world has happened to the Disney channel? I’m not going to encourage Muffin to turn on Disney Jr now that they’re broadcasting a show about a preschool vampire. Excuse me?!
And White Fang gave up on Nickelodeon — which was the standard of acceptable teen programming for years — ages back. Their resurgence of live-action, scripted shows, such as “The Thundermans” and “Henry Danger,” that were slightly goofy but still fine in terms of clean humor and covering appropriate topics. But even those have become too far-fetched and just plain silly. Yes, White Fang is now 15, and his viewing tastes will be different than they were in middle school. But, still. Even something that’s aimed at 6-10-year-olds needs to make sense.
So, we will happily binge library DVDs of shows that were cancelled before 2005.
And I have no regrets about what we may, or may not, have missed in primetime.