Ellen Gray: Advice for the TV networks in '09
'Tis the season to promise our better selves that we'll do better. And with TVs in the average U.S. household now on for a record eight hours, 18 minutes a day, according to Nielsen, a New Year's resolution that involved a bit of shut-eye for one of our busiest appliances might not be a bad idea.
'TIS THE season to promise our better selves that we'll do better.
And with TVs in the average U.S. household now on for a record eight hours, 18 minutes a day, according to Nielsen, a New Year's resolution that involved a bit of shut-eye for one of our busiest appliances might not be a bad idea.
Save a little electricity, maybe get a little more sleep - what's not to like?
But though I've been known to put down the remote and pick up a book, I can go only so far down the TV-turnoff road before it begins to affect my job.
Therefore, in 2009, I resolve to keep watching Way Too Much Television, but:
* To never again recommend a show, even to myself, using the argument that it's so bad it's good.
* To seek treatment for my addiction to the CW and its rich, spoiled teens, to admit that I am powerless when it comes to "Gossip Girl" (and only slightly more in control of the flash-forwarded denizens of "One Tree Hill") and that my DVR has become unmanageable as a result.
* To at last erase the series finales of "Veronica Mars," "The Sopranos" and "Gilmore Girls" from my DVR, recognizing that this is what DVDs are for. And to acknowledge that I'm probably never going to watch that episode of Lifetime's "Army Wives" I recorded in October.
* To read at least one of the books that's mentioned on ABC's "Lost."
* To stop citing ABC's "According to Jim" as evidence of life after death.
* To rewatch all five seasons of "The Wire" before the next season of "True Blood" comes around to remind me that sometimes HBO is just television, but that it can be much more.
But, hey, enough about me. The best (and easiest) New Year's resolutions are the ones we make for other people:
* For Shonda Rhimes, creator of ABC's "Grey's Anatomy": To spare Kevin McKidd and his refreshingly no-nonsense character, Owen Hunt, the McDreamy/McSteamy/McWeenie treatment that's helped turn Seattle Grace into a junior high school where the students are actually encouraged to carry knives.
Because if ever a show needed another grown-up, it's this one.
* For "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell: To stop whispering in Paula Abdul's ear as she's trying to talk, if only to eliminate one of the excuses she's given over the years for her inability to speak in even partial sentences with millions of people listening.
* For Simon Baker of CBS' "The Mentalist": To keep smiling. Because it seems to be really good for ratings.
* For Kristin Chenoweth, late of ABC's "Pushing Daisies," who's reportedly signed on to play a lawyer with "flashes of psychosis" in David E. Kelley's latest show, "Legally Mad": To keep eating, no matter what, because Kelley heroines for some reason are at high risk for extreme weight loss.
* For NBC honchos Jeff Zucker, Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff: To remember that no matter how well all those NBC Universal cable channels may be doing with "Real Housewives of Pittsburgh" and close-ups of Tori Spelling's dog's poop, you're still running a broadcast network that controls a hefty chunk of the public airwaves.
Which should make supersizing "The Apprentice" a white-collar crime. Punishable by being forced to watch "Momma's Boys" with your eyes taped open.
Don't want the trouble of finding meaningful, maybe even scripted, programming for the primetime hours that will be left next season after you've handed 10 p.m. weeknights to Jay Leno, Saturday to reruns and Sunday to the NFL?
Fine. Get out of the way and let someone else try - before "The Biggest Loser" permanently replaces the peacock as your corporate mascot.
* : For CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler: To either accept that you're programming a network that's largely devoted to the detection and capture of serial killers or to give the next show you pick up to try to expand your base longer than you gave "The Ex List."
And, hey, maybe even a better slot than 9 p.m. Fridays.
* For ABC entertainment president Steve McPherson: To muster the courage to look beyond "Desperate Housewives."
Because no matter how well things seem to be going on Wisteria Lane right now, all this talk of four more years feels, well, desperate.
* For Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly: To find a worthy time slot for "Bones," and stick with it.
* For CW entertainment president Dawn Ostroff: To not let yourself be talked into spinning off "Gossip Girl," or any of those other rich-kid shows, until the economy improves and someone other than the devil can afford Prada. *
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