Television: What We Need

I use to watch network television faithfully. The programs I liked were a mixture of comedies, drama, the mixture of comedy and drama.  But, alas!  Network television is taking the easy way out with their programming.  I expected it for fall after the strike, but Spring gave me only two shows that I liked — Wild Cards and Deal or No Deal Island.  Oh, sure there have been some surprises like the 60th anniversary of Doctor Who (I haven’t watched both shows of the new season yet).  But from what I’ve seen of renewals and prospective shows, I’m not hopeful. 

Let’s get this straight.  I am by my own admission, a history freak and literature lover.  I want a story (preferably ending in one episode).  I want characters I can identify with and care if they make it to the next show.  I don’t want to see a gunfight or murder with blood everywhere within five minutes of the show starting.  I want to see caring, love, and, if a crime’s involved, said crime solved.

I don’t see that promise so far with renewals.  I will admit, I went to an old soap acquaintance’s TV Line website for the listing of cancellations/renewals and it doesn’t look promising.  Here is the breakdown:

ABC:  2 comedies, 3 crime and the perennial Grey’s Anatomy

CBS:  2 comedies, 7 crime (of which Elsbeth may be different)

FOX:  1 comedy, 4 cartoon/comedies, 5 crime or mob oriented shows (Cleaning Lady)

NBC:  9 crime/911 shows, 1 comedy

CW/NexStar:  only 1 drama so far.  The rest is unknown.

Granted there are some comedies but I have found that the inventive, funny comedies have died.  With the departure of Riverdale, fantasy is gone.  Family-centered drama is a thing of the past.  And I know I didn’t list the reality shows because they are still in development.

So what would I suggest?  Here are just some of my dream programming.

Reality/Game Show
You are bringing back Hollywood Squares with Drew Barrymore in the center.  So why not bring back Match Game with Leah Remini as host?  She has played the game and was excellent as a player.  Make her the host changing this up from Alec Baldwin (she’s definitely funnier).  Center bottom (Richard Dawson’s seat), needs someone with charisma.  Good luck finding that.

“Monopoly Square Off” —  I don’t think a Monopoly show has been done.  Select 12 people to play a one-hour version of Monopoly in four parts.  Use a large board but change it up so that chance cards mean tasks.  Each episode the person in jail or with the lowest money is disqualified.  All money earned during the game is put in a contestant’s bank account.  Every game starts with a clean slate.   Ultimate winner:  the one with the most money in the bank at the end of the game.

This is the hardest category.  We have no one who wants to create shows like Cheers.  Here are just a few of my examples.

“Taking One for the Neighborhood” — A small town neighborhood becomes the home of an out of state social climbing couple.  The community doesn’t suit their criteria for they know what’s best.  Each week the community must muster their resources and wits to teach the newcomers what life is really like in suburban America. 

“College Life” —  A young freshman must navigate the world of life at a university.  From missteps like getting the wrong books, running afoul of a frat, and getting the wrong teacher, he and his friends navigate through the social structure.  Comedy ensues as they discover what real life is like.

Let’s spin this away from NCSI, CSI, or SWAT.  We have too much in the real world.  Once again, my suggestions.

“Wealth Hunt” — An American detective and an Interpol agent must catch a Mastermind.  Each week, the duo is faced with money, jewelry, and artwork potential heists.  They must not only catch the thief but solve the ultimate question of who is the Mastermind.

This genre is sadly lacking.  It used to include Once Upon a TimeRiverdaleOrville and so many others!

Bring back Orville.  That show was a wonderful mix of comedy, fantasy, and science fiction.  It made me laugh as it questioned the world we live in now.

Buy the rights to Jennifer Estep’s series which begins with To Kill The Queen.  After a royal party that sees the heir to the throne kill all her relatives but one, we will follow the survivor as she tries to protect the kingdom and stay alive.  After joining a gladiator (part knights/wrestlers/circus) performance squad, she trains and finds she has a magical skill that will defeat the murderer of the queen and court and by book three saves her kingdom.

“High School Hijinks” — All have heard of senior pranks before graduation.  What similar pranks begin happening throughout the year?  And these are not being done by present students but by a ghostly crew.  How can a simple group of students solve the pranks before they get out of hand?  When the principal’s car is found on the second floor, things start to escalate.

These are quick suggestions I have come up with.  I know similar themes have happened before (I love Ghosts).  Have the networks chosen to take the “easy way out?”  Are streaming services (Disney+, Paramount+, Peacock) the only networks willing to take the risk and spend some money?  Can networks become more imaginative or borrow from their streaming line?  Oh, and I have more suggestions but ran out of room!  If I can come up with these off the top of my head, why can’t the big wigs at the network?  Enquiring minds ask!