J.W. Ward on what’s wrong with TV these days

When was the last time you watched something original on television?

Think about it.

 Not so easy to answer, is it?

 These days, it’s not much. Most of it has been done before.

As the big networks get ready for a new season of prime-time programming, you might have already caught wind of what’s coming up this fall. ABC has a reimagined version of Charlie’s Angels coming to Thursdays on top of a “modern take” on fairy tales with Once Upon a Time Sundays at 8, which NBC will try out as well every Friday at 9 with Grimm. CBS already has one season of a new Hawaii Five-O under its belt, and now, they’re also looking into a new version of Bewitched for the fall of 2012.

 Add to that the fact that Marvel Entertainment is prepping a new live-action version of The Incredible Hulk on the small screen while reality TV still peppers the network schedules and you start to get the picture.

 New, original television isn’t happening these days. At least not on the big networks.

Most of the adventurous stuff is on the cable networks. Showtime has Weeds, Dexter and Californication, but their season start times are all over the calendar. HBO has the same issue with hits like Game of Thrones, True Blood and Entourage. AMC has Mad Men and The Walking Dead (a comic book adaptation, but we’ll let it slide).

 Considering that shows like this are easily found and digested on Netflix, streaming, bit torrents and DVD, it’s easy to understand why people are turning away from a big cable bill in favour of other options. The technology has changed enough so the ad-heavy television subscription isn’t worth the money. Add in the fact that many of us have less cash to spare thanks to the recession of 2008, and will have even less with the recession expected later this year, and you get an even clearer picture:

 It’s your fault there’s less original television.

 That’s why the major networks keep going to the well of what has been. With younger audiences not buying in to television as generations before, the networks need to work even harder to appease those that already have the habit. Familiarity breeds investment. If a show was successful before, it could be again. If people are already pressed for time and money, giving them something they already know gives them a sense of value by association, and they’re more likely to watch because it’s comfortable, unchallenging and less to think about.

 The movie industry’s been the same for years too. Same old delivery system, appealing to an audience with the same old habits.

 Should you feel bad? Guilty even? Hell no.

 It’s time for a change.

 Vote with your dollar. Watch what you want, how you want it. Streaming internet? DVD? Webseries? Go nuts.

 The more you entertain yourself according to your interests and habits, the more other people do the same, the more the technology will change and improve and the more the programming will too.

 The big networks will get the message, and it’ll be more than just their programming they’ll be forced to reimagine.

Get the picture?

Streaming? Cable? DVD? How do you enjoy television programming these days?

JW Ward is a Toronto-based writer, media personality and professional cynic. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonwardDOTca, through his website at www.jasonward.ca and every Thursday here at Biff Bam Pop!

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