Commentary

Shake, Rattle And Roll: Just What TV Business Needs

Perhaps it was a message sent from some future TV-watching generation to Los Angeles: The city that still generates much of TV entertainment was shaken on Monday by an earthquake, possibly because executives need a good shake.

With  summer ratings down a bit versus a year ago, and, apart from a few nice surprises such as ABC's "Wipeout," nothing has struck our imagination. Not even "Mad Men," and its very modest two million viewers in its premiere.

All the TV Guide covers for "Mad Men" in the world won't tell you that last season, viewership essentially fell week to week during its initial summer run, the one that had critics tripping over themselves offering praise.

Even many trade industry journalists (this columnist include) were led to believe that the premiere doubled its ratings of a year ago to two million viewers. (It just doubled its average season ratings of a year ago. This year's premiere was up some 20% over last year's premiere.)

So what are we left with as the summer heads into its last four-week period? The Beijing Olympic s, that's what. Smog, a big still-undiscovered Asian country, probable protests, possible censorship, all resulting, no doubt, in some fist-pumping prime-time drama. TV advertisers will get their swagger back for sure; maybe even some positive product sales.

Surely, the Democratic and Republican  conventions, later in the month, will be a snooze -- apart from seeing what vice presidential candidates will make the cut.

Maybe by the end of the summer Brett Farve will be playing for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Maybe by then Barry Bonds will make an appearance for some poor slugging team which has little to lose.

A desperate TV programming schedule is in dire need of a straight arm to a cornerback's helmet or some chin music headed towards a baseball slugger. Instead, we got the hint some ground could open up beneath a few entertainment executives' feet in Hollywood.

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