The fall TV season will just be getting underway when it will be enlivened -- and disrupted -- by the presidential debates.
Three dates you should jot down or note in your Gmail calendar (which might not be necessary since the Don King-style buildup to these events will be impossible to miss): Monday, Sept. 26; Sunday, Oct. 9; and Wednesday, Oct. 19. These are the dates of the three scheduled presidential debates between the Republican and Democratic nominees, whoever they turn out to be (hardy-har-har).
The debates will be in prime time, of course. And unlike the many one-party debates that were aired on single networks beginning last August and ending only recently, the presidential debates will be carried on every conceivable network. Note that they are scheduled for nights of the week when prime time actually matters -- Monday, Sunday and Wednesday. No Friday or Saturday nights here.
If this year’s debates are anything like the debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012, they will draw audiences in the mid- to high tens of millions. The fact is, the way things are going in this unusual presidential-campaign year, it won’t be surprising to see the debates between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton (the presumptive GOP nominee and probable Democratic nominee, respectively) exceed all previous events in the cumulative ratings across all networks.
The debates’ locations are: Sept. 26: Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio; Oct. 9: Washington University in St. Louis; and Oct. 19: the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I love that there’s going to be one in Las Vegas, as if this presidential debate was like a prizefight, which it is when you stop and think about it.
In the midst of these three debates, there is one debate scheduled for the vice presidential candidates, whoever they might be: Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia (pop. 8,216).
But all of this is in the fall. What will sustain us this summer in this election season? Daily news reports on the speeches and appearances made by the candidates, endless panel discussions on the news channels between so-called experts about what the candidates said and did, and hopefully the first waves of political commercials for all the races -- national, state and local. I can hardly wait for those.
The centerpieces of the summer’s campaign coverage will be the conventions. They start with the Republicans July 18-21 (Monday through Thursday) in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers play.
The Democrats convene in Philadelphia the very next week, July 25-28 (also Monday through Thursday). A listing online for the Democratic National Convention says the Democrats plan to use two venues -- the Wells Fargo Center, the South Philadelphia home of the Flyers and 76ers; and the Pennsylvania Convention Center located in Center City. The venues are seven miles apart. How is this supposed to work?
Look for wall-to-wall coverage of both conventions (and endless yawn-inducing discussions about them) on all of the news channels. C-Span will provide coverage too, much of it without the yammering of partisan talking heads we’ve come to expect on CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC.
Coverage on the broadcast networks will likely be compacted into an hour of prime time beginning at 10 Eastern on at least some of the nights. They’ll probably go longer on the final evenings for the acceptance speeches.
Raise your hand if you’re already tired of it all, and the real battle hasn’t even begun yet.