>For the sake of brevity, I’m going to assume that anyone reading this is familar with NBC, if not, read this from NBC Television’s Wikipedia entry, followed by this 1985 promo and this 2007 promo, and turn on TNT since they seem to have Law & Order on all the time until The Closer burns off more episodes.
“Fall” in New York is an interesting time, because apart from Los Angeles and Chicago, few other cities are awash in networks promoting their new lineups all over the place. (Penn Station itself is practically floor-to-ceiling full of CBS, the East side of Times Square is such for ABC, and Rockefeller Center goes without saying.) The funny thing about NBC’s lineup is that it seems well…ignorant.
Now ignorant is a strong word, but here’s why I chose it: NBC is at once the network of self-absorption and self-ignorance, which might explain why it did so well in the 1980s and 1990s, when as a country we first became entranced by our surroundings and subsquently ourselves. That would be fine now, if we still were equally interested in these things, but the fact of the matter is that the mean ol’ nasty outside world went and decided that we needed to pay attention to it.
Many networks noticed this change and decided to try to incorporate programming that at least acknowledged that there was an outside world wherein the prototypical televisual American (a WASP aged 25-35) came to realisation that he/she was not ruler of the domain, and in fact was wearing nothing at all. Basically, we learned not just that we’re alone, but “we” don’t all look like how we thought we did, in fact, we’re kind of shallow…seriously.
NBC didn’t quite get this memo. It thought that it could encapsulate the zeitgeist by asking Dick Wolf to pick up a copy of The Daily News and email the top stories to a group of writers in LA (Yes, that is the sad truth about Law & Order), while still plugging along with its roster of shows that do nothing but tell us how despite appearances to the contrary, everything is still a-ok in the USA as long as you watch NBC, because on NBC, all the bad guys will get caught (presumably by Chris Hansen) within the hour and you can sleep well into the night knowing that America’s First Family (TM) will be there to tell you that despite some minor nastiness, you are still free to resume obsessing over your weight, lack of sex life, and whether Brangelina are having marital problems.
Yet, despite all this Reagan-esque bravado, the fact of the matter is that the peacock’s feel-good mantra isn’t manifesting itself ratings-wise, when you look at the big picture. The self-absorbed network’s facade is crumbling and the answer in their view is to retreat further inwards into where criticism and the blatantly obvious won’t hurt. I’ll be somewhat blunt here, NBC is Grey Gardens as a network, viewing its audience as Soylent Green.
If the preceding sounded appealing, not to mention logical, then: 1) Why are you reading the blog of an avowed and proud Socialist?, 2) You’ve most likely already donated to the Thompson and/or McCain campaigns.
And now in order to end things on an upbeat note (how very NBC), here is the legendary Momoe Yamaguchi performing Rock ‘N’ Roll Widow with a bunch of men doing very absurd choreography.