On countless medical dramas (stretching from Emergency! all the way up to ER) coma patients are hooked up to bleeping machines and kindly doctors urge loved ones to talk to the patient normally, and constantly. Invariably the afflicted awake from their dream state prodded by the soft, inconsequential murmuring of family and friends, and always with a new take on life and all its wonders.
It’s exactly the same prescription for sitcoms, and it often works the same miracle.
Despite any research that delves into Nielsen numbers, I have yet to find in my vast, widely probed search, a single fan of Everybody Loves Raymond. Indeed, virtually every reasonable post concerning the show I’ve ever read refers to the confounding fact that, although it was extremely popular, no legitimate critic or commenter will say they absolutely loved the series.
In fact, the opposite is true. I could cite reams of evidence, but I dare you. Go ahead. Prove me wrong. And I’m not talking about reviewers who respect the hefty numbers, the awards, the 10-year run or the quirky characters. I’m talking about commentators who actually said it was funny.
The same phenomenon is occurring with the series Two And A Half Men (another CBS product) and is manifesting itself with similar outcomes. The lead character (a comedically challenged Charlie Sheen) has become the highest paid actor in television, the ratings are through the roof, the laughter is hermetically canned and there is not a single reviewer who claims to be bowled over by the show. What’s the secret?
Consistent, softly murmured buzzing by network honchos in the ear of the blithely unaware comatose patient – the American Public.
It’s an old wive’s trick that if you talk long enough, and loud enough, even the lowliest piece of silver in the drawer will take on an unburnished glow, hiding the grimy interior from more probing eyes. Remember, it was a child who pointed out that The Emperor was, in fact, not wearing a stitch of clothing.
With the recent announcement that the steadily-growing-in-popularity Life On Mars has been canceled, the wool-pulling tactics become even more egregious to die-hard fans. But LOM is an ABC product. Those guys are the geniuses behind the demise of Pushing Daisies – just the latest example of letting a brilliant series die on the vine. No continuous buzz. No endless murmuring. No meaningless small-talk. Just pulling the plug.
It’s time for a new American Revolution. And it starts right here. Let your voice be heard! If you love a show, don’t expect it to run all the way to the shark tank. Make sure you talk about it. Leave a comment, get involved. Create some buzz.
Maybe in the future, we won’t be going all the way to Mars for out of this world entertainment. We’ll look no further than our own living rooms.