A piece published this week declares that network television is “mighty no more” and laments its “sad, greedy decline … into games and circuses.”
The commentary by critic David Zurawik, who writes about the business and culture of television in his “Z on TV” column in The Baltimore Sun, was apparently inspired by an NBC promotional announcement touting three series that are either returning or premiering in January: Dwayne Johnson’s “The Titan Games,” “Ellen’s Game of Games,” starring Ellen DeGeneres, and “America’s Got Talent: The Champions.”
“That’s two more game shows and the spinoff of a summer replacement series. I can hardy wait,” Zurawik writes, noting that “The Titan Games” will offer a grand prize of $100,000.
“A grand prize of $100,000? NBC and CBS were giving away more than that on game shows in their infancy when they were struggling to find a national audience large enough to impress Madison Avenue and stay in business,” the piece notes. “With no talent costs except Johnson, and $100,000 in ‘grand prize’ money, the only question is: Could you do a prime-time show any cheaper?”
The big money on DeGeneres’ show is also $100,000, Zurawik notes.
“Sad to say, given the sorry state of network programming, these shows will probably do OK — better than, say, the reboot of ‘Magnum P.I.’ on CBS,” he writes. “Although doing OK by network standards these days is a very low bar.”
Zurawik drags CBS into the feeding frenzy too, citing its upcoming Tim Tebow showcase, “The Million Dollar Mile.”
“CBS and NBC all but invented TV as we know it in the late 1950s, and they were among the most dominant economic, cultural and political forces in the nation for half a century,” Zurawik comments, before chronicling key events in what he calls “a long, sad, downward journey … for the once-mighty media brands of NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox.”
There’s plenty more where that came from. We encourage readers to click on the link above to The Baltimore Sun to read Zurawik’s piece.