‘Where the Ladies At’? 15 Network Notes for TV Execs in 2015

All Good Things Must End (Well)
There are no less than ten television shows that are coming to an end this year. These include long-running favorites Parks and Rec, Mad Men, Glee, Justified and Parenthood. While many fans are mourning the loss of their go-to shows, the fact that they’re leaving the air is a done deal. At this point, our greatest hope is that after investing so much time and energy into caring about these shows and the characters and stories that they’ve spawned that they close out on a satisfactory manner. Hopefully everyone learned something from the How I Met Your Mother debacle that took place earlier this year. (Sorry to jump on that bandwagon, but I watched the show for nine years. Nine years! That’s a long time. I wasn’t mad, just sad that the ending wasn’t all I hoped it would be.)
Viewers Deserve More...Than One or Two Episodes
While some shows are ending, there are plenty that will be making their debut as well. FOX has Empire, ABC has Fresh off the Boat, and Syfy has 12 Monkeys, among many other newbies that will see screen time this year. Here’s a thought for TPTB – give these shows a chance. Even mega-hits like Friends and ER took more than a few episodes to find an audience. Don’t make any decisions until after at least the third episode. And, if you believe in a show and get behind it, viewers might just do the same. If you yank said show around to different time slots and on and off the air consistently, we tend to give up. Be patient and good times may happen.
You're Making Decisions Based on...What, Exactly?
It’s no secret that networks base the success of a show on ratings but isn’t it possible that the ratings system now in place is a bit antiquated? Yes, you’re now using the live +3 and live +7 numbers as well, but what about the social media status of a show and download numbers? I have no concrete solution here but it clearly seems that the entire system is definitely in need of overall. Adding to this, now seems a great time to figure out how to put a stop to the whole ‘we stop shooting in April and then get canceled in May and leave our viewers screwed and mad’ thing that goes on every single year. I know a lot of this system has to do with ad dollars and the upfronts, but again, this whole process seems outdate and in need of retooling.
Where Are the Women?!
This year late night viewers are getting two new hosts to replace Craig Ferguson and David Letterman. The new hosts are (shockingly!) men. Really?! You couldn’t find a woman to fill one of those slots? No disrespect to Stephen Colbert and James Corden who will take over the vacant seats, but the time seems ripe for a change and there is plenty of talent out there, too many names to list here.
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Stop Overdoing it With the Kudo Fests
Awards shows are fun – fun to watch, fun to make fun of. It’s a win-win! But more isn’t always better. Let’s keep the Emmys, Oscars, Tonys, Grammys, Golden Globes, and The Independent Spirit Awards. Ok, just for fun, we can have the MVA’s, the CMA’s and even the AMA’s, but everything else can just go away. Really, just go away.
More NPH, Duh
Speaking of the Tonys, NPH should just host every year. This year, he’s (some say stepped up to) hosting the Oscars. This guy can host anything. Really, he can do anything. Let’s just see more of him this year, in any capacity.
Now About Those Emmys
Here’s another system that needs some tinkering. The new model of some television shows only airing eight to ten episodes while others crank out 22 – 24 per year is an issue when it comes to comparing the creative aspects of these series. The volume and pace of the storytelling is completely different on a show that has ten to thirteen episodes than it is on one that has over 20, not to mention that overall workload. This year, every series that was nominated in the Best Drama Series category had less than 13 episodes. (True Detective only had eight!) The nominees were True Detective, Downton Abbey, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones and House of Cards, with Breaking Bad taking home the trophy. There is a mini-series category and there are no hard and fast rules about what distinguishes between a series and a mini-series so it’s up to the producers to decide which category to enter. American Horror Story: Coven (13 episodes) and Fargo (10 episodes) entered the mini-series category with Fargo winning. It seems that these categories need more definition and rules for this to be a fair fight. With more series going to the 13 or under model this point may become mute in a few years but for right now let’s not pretend that the differences don’t exist and give each entity it’s due.
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Let's See Some REAL Real Housewives
In the reality world, we’re inundated with those ‘real housewives.’ Real? Really? All they do is go out to eat and throw fancy parties and then they argue at every one of those events. How about a show with a REAL housewife? One who has three or four kids, works a part time job and lives in a modest house in the middle of the country. Let’s see her mow the grass and balance the bank accounts. This might sound boring to some but it might really appeal to many. There is one show that has some elements of this, Nickelodeon’s MFF: Mom Friends Forever, but it seems there is room for a few more series like this.
Let's See Some Chicago Med From Dick Wolf
‘Nuff said. Call me Mr. Wolf. Please, let’s make this happen.
More and More Laughs
It’s always fun to get in on the ground floor of a fresh fun new show and every year we hold out how for the next big thing that tickles us. Early in 2015 we’ll have FX’s Man Seeking Woman (1/14) ABC’s Fresh off the Boat (2/4), CBS’ The Odd Couple (2/19) and FOX’s Last Man on Earth (3/1) Hopefully one of these, or another new entry, will ignite the comedic spark that we continually long for.
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Bob Odenkirk is up for his second Best Actor Emmy award.
One of the new shows entering the entertainment landscape this year is the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul. From Vince Gilligan, the creative mastermind behind Walter White’s journey, Saul looks to be the next big drama/comedy hybrid. Let’s hope that it truly is and lives up to all of the hype and the enormous expectations that Breaking Bad fans have.
Courtesy AMC
A Better Way to Describe Shonda Rhimes
Hello?!? She oversees a whole night of television on a major network. Everyone needs to stop referring to her as a ‘black’ producer or a ‘female’ dynamo. Let’s just refer to her as the genius creative powerhouse that she is. I’ve ordered some business cards with that on them for her so she can just had those out and be done with all of this.
Stop Fighting
All of these annoying carriage disputes have got to end. This year, DISH subscribers lost Turner channels for several days, CBS for a few hours and as of right now are without the Fox News Channel. This issue isn’t exclusive to DISH by any means. Time Warner and Direct TV have gone through similar situations. While viewers aren’t privy to all of the factors here, we just know what we want – no service interruption. Whatever the two sides have to do, do it, just stop yanking things from the air. Pretty soon, this issue will be mute as more and more people are leaving the tradition methods of content acquisition and opting to stream via standalone services. So if you want to continue to offer something relevant right now for viewers, make sure that you do just that, with no interruptions.
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A Radical New Way to Watch TV
With the rise of social media it’s hard to watch anything on delay without it being spoiled and if you’re on the West Coast everything is on delay. Here’s a radical idea – instead of four time zones, how about just two – East Coast and West Coast, eliminating Mountain and Central – and programming shows at times like 10e/9w. Under this system everyone would be able watch everything live at the same time. And, this is beneficial for areas other than TV as well. It would be a big advantage when conducting bi-coastal business and there would be no jet lag when traveling across the country. Just think about it a bit, will you? It makes great sense.
No More Shocking Deaths
This is a big ask, but 2014 was a tough year in terms of loss. Let’s hope this year social media doesn’t have to light up with any horrible news about someone we love and respect dying far too soon.

Many people are looking back and talking about the best/worst of 2014, but let’s take a different tactic here and talk about what we want, and don’t want, to see in 2015. Are you listening to us, network executives? These notes are for you!

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