Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Recaps vs. Re-runs

It used to be that networks would run a full season of shows, then show re-runs over the summer. This was good if you ever missed an episode, or if there was a series that got a lot of buzz the first time around that you skipped but wanted to check out later.

With the rise of great cable programming on networks like FX, however, networks can't afford to give away viewers over the summer anymore. In addition, with series now coming on DVD, networks don't want to potentially choke off a source of potential income.

So, re-runs are fewer and fewer. This is both a good and bad thing. In order to catch people up and attract the occasional new viewer, networks are doing more and more recaps, in which they boil down an entire season, or even series, into an hour-long clip show.

Fans looking to refresh themselves on "Lost" (ABC, 9 p.m.) or new viewers can check out tonight's recap of the previous two seasons. ABC did similar recaps for "Grey's Anatomy" and "Desperate Housewives," and other networks are getting into the act.

On the one hand, it's a good way to refresh your memory about where the last season left off; at the same time, especially with a serialized arc like "Lost," new viewers can lose a lot of the subtlety (not to mention literally hundreds of clues and red herrings) that regular viewers saw by checking out the entire series.

Still, hopefully recaps will have a more positive effect on a show than a negative one. The producers of "Battlestar Galactica" will air a recap of the previous seasons of the show before the new seasons kicks off next Friday. Hopefully, it will bring in new viewers to one of TV's best, if ratings-challenged, shows because someone jumping into the new season cold will not be able to follow what is going on.

WEDNESDAY'S BEST BET: Fox has always seemed to have a history of knocking off good ideas by creating its own show with a similar theme, then airing it first. The Fox show tends to be not as good, and it kills momentum for the new series on the other network.

"Kidnapped" (NBC, 10 p.m.) is one of the best new dramas on TV, and tonight's second episode moves along at a steady pace as Knapp and the FBI look for Aubrey, Leopold's older sister who is away at college and apparently also missing. Is it part of the overall plot, or is it coincidental? That's the mystery.

"Kidnapped" had a rather lackluster debut in the ratings last week, and I attribute to the fact that Fox aired its own kidnapping show, the incredibly lame "Vanished" several weeks before "Kidnapped" premiered. I'm pretty sure people were turned off by the dense "Vanished," then saw the similar-themed-but-much-superior "Kidnapped" and decided against checking it out.

This is my main problem with serial shows. I'm intrigued to see how "Kidnapped" will work out, but I'm worried we won't get to see it finish out because of the ratings.

SPORTS ALERT: Fans of various Fox shows like "House" and "Standoff" will have to go cold turkey for the next month as my New York Mets and other teams battle in baseball's playoffs, beginning next week. On the one hand, I am eager to see my guys win their third world title; but if the unthinkable happens, it kind of sucks to have to watch the Yankees and not see any "House" until the end of October.


Zodin2008 said...

Phillip, I couldn't agree more about how "Vanished" may have really hurt "Kidnapped". It's so typical for Fox.

That being said, there seems to be this inexplicable gigantic American fanbase for these dull "CSI" shows.

Across the board, critics hate both spinoff versions (CSI: Miami and CSI: NY) and yet what happens when NBC places far better and far better written shows against these bizarre juggernauts? CBS wins.

It's why I was so thrilled that a show I don't even watch "Grey's Anatomy" defeated "CSI" so handily. I wanted to see some kink in the armor of bulletproof CBS programming. I hope this starts to infest there other dull procedurals, especially these awful "CSI" shows.

Anonymous said...

I hate baseball! put it on espn or something, not on network t.v.

Phillip Ramati said...

Networks tend to like sports on TV; usually, it makes for good ratings and it's less original programming they have to produce.

If you don't like baseball, there are plenty of other options to watch these days. But baseball and Georgia football are pretty much the only sports I watch on TV.