The Tangential Thinker

So there’s nothing on television. I’m serious, nothing. I have like 700 channels, but if you exclude reruns, shows about borderline- criminal parenting of multiples, and any show where there is a possibility of an STD transference, you’re left with very little. Remember when programming used to stop at night? They used to run an American flag up the flagpole, play ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and that was it. Now you can stay up all night watching emotionally abused sociopaths try to win the affections of washed-up musicians.

There is good news, however: fall programming is just around the corner. For years now the shows that garnered viewers, and raised eyebrows, have been on the premium cable channels. From Sex & the City to The Sopranos to current hits like The Tudors and True Blood, HBO and Showtime seem to have a pretty good feel for what people like to watch: sex and violence. More over, because they have fewer FCC restrictions than the big three networks, they can leave much less to the imagination.

So what are the basic channels to do? They can’t show nudity. They can’t use the ‘f’ word. What else do people like to watch? Well, the little screen got an idea from the big screen. If Hollywood can make billions every year making sequels and remakes and turning TV shows into movies without an ounce of thought or creativity, why can’t TV do the same thing?

On ABC we have Eastwick, the small-screen version of the 1987 Jack Nicholson hit film, The Witches of Eastwick (which is an adaptation from the John Updike novel of the same name). NBC is premiering Parenthood this fall. If you remember the 1989 Steve Martin classic film, this show will seem very familiar to you. There are also rumblings of a series based on the current weepy box office dud, The Time Traveler’s Wife.

NBC said goodbye to E.R. in the spring, so they’re saying hello to Mercy this fall. In the network’s defense, there are some differences between the two shows. E.R. was on Thursdays; Mercy will air on Wednesdays. NBC is also offering Trauma, an action drama about first responders that actually looks promising. CW is premiering a Melrose Place remake to join its 90210 remake, and in unabashedly trying to get a piece of the vampire pie, CW will also float The Vampire Diaries.

It’s not all bad news. NBC’s Com munity is a sitcom about a misfit bunch of community college students starring Joel McHale and Chevy Chase. Kelsey Grammer is returning to his sitcom roots with ABC’s Hank. My three favorites from last fall, The Mentalist, Lie to Me and Castle, all quirky crime dramas, are returning for a second season. So there may be some promising television in the offing, or we can always curl up with a good book…maybe we should start remaking those, too.

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