Sunday, July 7, 2013

Those were the days . . .

Before it got any further belated, I wanted to give proper mention to what was a great TV show that ended this spring--"The Office". This is another show from my top 50 of all time and this one would make the top 10 I am guessing. Here are some thoughts:

  • "The Office" was path breaking (both the original British and the American versions). Like "Survivor" in the reality genre, it brought an idea mainstream (sorry, "The Real World" was about as mainstream as "Girls Gone Wild"). "Moonlighting" 20-years prior made use of the direct dialogue to the camera and then some, breaking the so called Fourth Wall. The idea of merging the reality concept with a scripted sitcom was brilliant allowing dynamic elements never before possible.
  • Incidentally, I think this show did more to accelerate the trend away from laugh tracks than any other. 
  • I felt this show had somewhat run its course when Michael, Steve Carell, left. But they were able to avoid jumping the shark ever so narrowly--aside from Nellie, the Cousin Oliver of Scranton.
  • I saw every episode of this show. Watching every moment, I regret nothing. That's what she said.
While this show ended continuing the trend of me losing more shows than gaining, there are several ideas recommended to me: "The Americans", "Breaking Bad", and a few others. My official TV advisor is reconstructing my portfolio. If I can simply learn to take his advice, perhaps I will stop making mistakes like "Up All Night". I stayed with that one far too long. I've started "Downton Abbey" and dabbled in "Mad Men". Both are shows followed and loved by my wife. I probably will catch up with both and continue along. 

At least one show will still be around that I had not counted on. The prototypical overachieving, underappreciated show "Community" received a reprieve from the gallows. I am afraid its ultimate, untimely fate lies there. I anticipated its demise and began thinking about a post using it as an example; it lives, but I will use it anyway. 

I used to lament how many shows I felt were very good that were cut down early into existence. Many didn't make it past a first season. While I won't work so hard as to try to recall them, the pain being too much, I will mention one of the most famous since it has been resurrected in a way, "Arrested Development". This show was similarly overachieving and under appreciated. It also was path breaking. Its return via Netflix says a lot about my more developed thoughts on TV show evolution. 

Remember how I said, "I used to lament . . ."; well, that is because it dawned on me one day that economics teaches us to roll with the changes rather than mourn for what will no longer be. Schumpeter's Creative Destruction is alive and well here. When a new show is ahead of its time or just not mainstream enough or simply not well marketed, etc., the death of the show does not mean the death of the creative, desirable, inventive elements that drew its too few fans in. Those same writers, producers, and actors are still out there trying again. The process of success and failure leads to better and better products down the line. Consider this as an anecdote against bailouts and the moral hazard that accompanies them. Better to let "Community" die, than to prop up its existence artificially. 

What's more, the overwhelming trend in this medium is to profitably broaden the scope and narrow the target audience. "Arrested Development" is back on but not on Fox, its original network. It is web based essentially. As the movement to a more and more decentralized and individualized market in television entertainment continues, more and more opportunities emerge. Consider this as an anecdote against monopolistic protections.

PS. "Futurama" would have been another example of a show resurrected.