Television: New TV shows help viewers shift gears into Spring

Television: New TV shows help viewers shift gears into Spring 4.20/5 (84.00%) 5 votes

Television: New TV shows help viewers shift gears into Spring

By Ray Hanania

David Duchovny at the Showtime Golden Globes P...

David Duchovny at the Showtime Golden Globes Party, The Peninsula Hotel, Beverly Hills, Calif. - Jan. 11, 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In today’s technological world, people spend a lot of time on computers, cell phones and iPads before, during and after work. And if they do unwind in front of the “boob tube,” (the television for those non Baby Boomers), they’re probably watching cable TV series on HBO or Showtime.

In the Winter, the primary shows are Shameless and Episodes, both on Showtime, and Boardwalk Empire on HBO. Now that the seasons have changed again, viewing patterns are shifting to reflect the new shows since Cable TV serials only last about 12 episodes, while so-called “Free TV” shows (which are really almost-free because they’re no longer free any more) air as many as 36 episodes or more — like The Goldbergs and Two Broke Girls.

There is something about the Cable TV shows that are far more attractive than the free TV programs on NBC, ABC and CBS. It has to do with the short seasons and the fewer episodes. Plus, you have to pay and extra fee to watch for the Cable TV series on HBO and Showtime, while the Free TV shows are, well, free.

I was hooked on Shameless and the pathetic life of my favorite Irish family the Gallaghers in their dilapidated old neighborhood, Canaryville. Drugged and sexed up and constantly in turmoil, jail or poverty, the show hooked me like a sturgeon in Wisconsin. Imagine the poor fish having to live in Wisconsin?

Governor Tours the Veep Set

Julia Louis-Dreyfus (right) and Governor Tours the Veep Set (Photo credit: MDGovpics)

Anyway, it used to be that the foul language and the near-four letter words were only on cable. But to stay competitive, shows like Two Broke Girls offer salacious dialogue filled with sperm, erections, vaginas and penis jokes. Although you can still get family-oriented driven dramas like Grimm, too.

Still, there is something to be said about a serious and a humorous show that airs only 12 times a year, forcing you to wait 40 weeks until the new seasons restart. Now that Shameless is over and the Gallaghers have put away their crack pipes, I’ve had to shift to a new crop of programs.

The usual cable TV night for me is Sunday night. And on Sunday nights, the new line-up has changed. But there are some great choices.

I record all of my favorite shows, although occasionally there are more than two shows at the same time violating the cable TV recording limit of only allowing me to record two shows at the same time. (And, when I am recording two shows at the same time, I can’t watch a third show either, since technically everything on Cable TV is recorded even if just for two hours — you can replay anything that shows on TV. I know, it’s pointless, except when watching the news on regular TV).

Here’s my new schedule. I’ve found some new shows and am watching the sequel seasons of some old shows. Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, a congresswoman who lost a race to become president but was asked to serve as vice president in the first season of VEEP on HBO. It’s hilarious. There are no bounds when it comes to dialogue that goes beyond the R-ratings. Everything on Cable TV goes beyond the R-ratings. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s gratuitous.

VEEP captures the reality of what we think is American politics better than most and this season is off to a great start. Another must watch program is Californication, the story of Hank Moody (David Duchovny), a writer who is sexed up and constantly in turmoil. The TV audience loves turmoil. But that’s true for real life and readers of newspapers, too. Americans thrive for turmoil and tragedy and conflict. We love to watch other people suffer, so we can express our public empathy but private sense of “we’re better than them” attitudes. Californication is in its 7th Season and this year will probably be its last, sadly.

A new show I discovered is Silicon Valley, the story of five nerds involved in launching a “start-up” (something you do with other people’s money) that will launch a program that helps condense data, rather than growing hard drives. In 1982 when I purchased my first PC, the IBM PC Jr., it only had one large drive and a 5 MegaByte Hard Drive. Now, you can’t take a picture under 5 MB and you need a hard drive with more than 700 Terabytes (TB).

Silicon Valley is hilarious. The writing is phenomenal. I can’t get enough. I liked Shameless because it was 60 minutes of Irish American tragedy. Californication, VEEP and Silicon Valley are only 30 minutes long.

It all started with The Sopranos, which made a brutal mob family in New Jersey look normal. The Sopranos launched in 1999 and ended after six powerful seasons. It’s success on HBO proved that Cable Tv could pour more quality money into shorter season programing that could steal viewers away from the traditional, longer episode series show on almost-Free TV on CBS, NBC and ABC. Of course, these are not all that’s out there.

Netflix, the online movie-on-demand Internet streaming channel launched House of Cards, the story of a brutal and vicious politician with no morals or ethics — redundant for sure — who murders and claws his way to the office of President in less than two seasons. House of Cards premiered in 2013 and the second season is now available. Netflix did something cool by putting all 13 episodes of each season online at the same time so viewers could “binge watch” TV, a new term that joins hundreds of other new technology vernacular that is polluting the English language.

You can actually “binge watch” almost all of the cable TV premium channels programs on HBO and Showtime, too, once the season is completed and all of the shows are offered on-demand.

 

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Ray Hanania

Blogger, Columnist at Illinois News Network Online
Ray Hanania is senior blogger for the Illinois News Network online news site. He is an award winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist who covered the beat from 1976 through 1992 (From Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley).

In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. He hosted a live weekend Radio Show on WLS AM radio from 1980 through 1991, and also on WBBM FM, WLUP FM and shows on WSBC AM in Chicago and WNZK AM in Detroit.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. He currently is syndicated through Creators Syndicate and his column is feature every Sunday in the Saudi Gazette in Saudi Arabia. He has written for the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His Chicagoland political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News on several Chicagoland blogs including the OrlandParker.com and SuburbanChicagoland.com.

Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

His personal website is www.TheMediaOasis.com. Email him at: [email protected]