Without Scripted Shows, Fall Season Is Network Twilight Zone

What a strange fall season this is.

This past summer, the TV Blog covered the networks’ contingency plans for a fall season without new, scripted shows due to the writers’ and actors’ strikes that halted all production.

But now that this fall season of non-scripted shows, game shows and scripted repeats from seasons past is up and running, we are getting a look at how these plans play on TV.

Give the networks credit for finding content to fill their evening hours in the absence of their new shows and returning hits.

But at the same time, the whole thing seems weird when casually sitting down to watch TV on a typical weekday evening. 



Grazing around the networks the other night, it finally dawned on me: Network TV this fall has entered some kind of twilight zone. 

Come to think of it, maybe running some old, classic “Twilight Zone” episodes would not have been a bad idea.

Game shows, game shows everywhere. On ABC, it’s “Celebrity Jeopardy!,” “Celebrity Wheel Of Fortune,” “The $100,000 Pyramid” and “Press Your Luck.”

On CBS, it’s “Buddy Games,” “Lotería Loca” (possibly the first American network TV show with an all-Spanish title*) and “Raid The Cage,” which premieres Friday night (October 13).

“Raid The Cage” is adapted from a format conceived and first aired in Israel and subsequently sold around the world.

A few years ago, NBC even made a pilot with the new title “Perfect Escape,” but never aired it (according to Wikipedia). 

But now, it’s coming in handy for CBS. Co-hosted by Damon Wayans Jr. and Jeannie Mai, the show has contestants running pell-mell into a “cage” festooned with prizes, and then attempting to grab as many as they can before a door on this enclosure closes.

The prizes include various tech products, watches, jewelry, vehicles such as ATVs (at least, that’s what one of the vehicles looked like) and more. In the photo above, the visible prizes include a giant teddy bear and an electric scooter.

The winners are those who manage to accumulate prizes with the highest dollar values. The two-person team that amasses the highest dollar value wins.

Elsewhere in prime time, various competition shows reign -- on NBC, “The Voice” and “America’s Got Talent”; and on CBS, “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor.”

ABC has a new season of “Dancing With the Stars” and a new hit (or at least ABC says it’s a hit), “The Golden Bachelor.”

Fox’s prime-time lineup at the present time includes “Hell’s Kitchen,” “Kitchen Nightmares,” “Lego Masters,” the new “Snake Oil,” “Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test” and “The Masked Singer.” 

The result is a rarity in many of our lives: A fall TV season with none of the usual sparkle, hype and hope.

Or to put it another way: Where’s the new “Matlock” with Kathy Bates? For me and millions of others (presumably), the absence of this show says it all about this year’s fall season. 

*If anyone else knows of any other network TV shows with a Spanish title, feel free to say so here.

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