Thursday, November 20, 2008

Television is an art...but sometimes it's just a business

There are times when I think television is one of the best media for artistic and creative expression. And there are times, like right now, when I read that ABC has decided not to order the back 9 episodes on 3 of its sophomore shows that I remember that television is just a business. The people in charge? They don't want to inspire people. They don't want to make people laugh. They don't want to make people see things from a different perspective. They don't want to fuel people's imaginations. They just want to make money. Television is about ratings and selling ads and yes, there are some commercials that have become more entertaining, sophisticated, and artistic over the years, but for the most part I do not watch tv for the commercials.

Dirty Sexy Money, I think, was a lost cause anyway. There were flickers of my old show - Brian always represented season one well, and even Tripp had a moment of vulnerability and humanity in this week's otherwise over the top episode that was an example of soap at it's best (and by best, I mean worst). They changed the show to get more viewers and it backfired. This show was already pretty much dead to me, so it's probable cancellation is no great loss.

Pushing Daisies and Eli Stone, however, were two of the best shows on. In a way, though they could both be dark and depressing, they were both also incredibly feel good and inspiring and original, something that's hard to come by in a television landscape riddled with shows that are mediocre, derivative, and sometimes just craptastic. I think they both had shaky first abbreviated seasons, but I think they were both starting to come into their own this year, especially Pushing Daisies, which left me in tears this week (I do not exaggerate) what with Ned embracing his newly found half-brothers and dealing together with their father abandonment issues to Chuck getting to "speak" to her newly found mother and ask her all the questions she never got to ask when she was alive. On top of which, Fred Willard was also in the episode. I love Fred Willard!

And now my favorite corporate shark turned do-gooder who is trying to save the world one person in need at a time, Eli Stone, is out of a job. As is my favorite piemaker who is learning to love and be loved. Shows like these allow me to believe, if only for a little while, that people are basically good and want to help their fellow humankind. And that true love exists. But the fact that gems like these get the boot while dreck like Private Practice (sorry, Taye Diggs), Kath and Kim, or that 90210 remake get to live to see another episode? That's the real slap in the face.

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