Friday, July 13, 2007

Summer on the TV

In the old days, television was for the most part done live. It's one of the reasons that there are so few remnants of the early days of tv. what we have nowadays from the late 1940s and early 50s exist as kinescopes which basically means they filmed the televison screen. It's why the quality is so bad. The stars of radio were slow to gravitate to television and when they did, it wasn't with any sense of regularity. so, a number of shows might share the same time slot.

By the mid 50s, there was definite sense of a schedule, but even that followed the calendar set years earlier in radio. The A star's show would be on for 39 weeks and they would take the summer's off and another show would air in that time slot.

In around 1952, smart producers like Desi Arnaz realized that when you film your show, you have access to it after the show airs. It's not ephemeral. Desi retained ownership of I Love Lucy and pretty much printed his own money by selling them as reruns.

This little history lesson isn't just to show off, but to show how everything is cyclical - especially in television.From the 1960s to the mid 1990s, things followed the same schedule. shows would air from the Fall to the Spring and reruns would take over the summer months. As the years went on, the amount of shows being produced dwindled from 39 to 33 to the high 20s today.

And yet in the world of cable and even sometimes on the broadcast networks, there are more and more shows premiering at "off-peak" times.

This year, Lifetime, TNT and USA networks seem to be the big winners in the summer tv season. Lifetime has already renewed their new drama Army Wives for a second season. And tonight, USA premieres a 5th season of Monk and a second season of my personal favorite, Psych.

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