Donut Age: America's Donut Magazine

An argument for mediocre television

This may be heading off into tinfoil hat territory, but it occurred to me after watching tonight's encore presentation of another fine Battlestar Galactica episode, that the the television industry may not want to create good programming. Even watching for the second time in three days, this week's Galactica was gripping and memorable, but despite or because of that, advertisers got exactly zero return (from me at least) on their investments in those two hours' commercial slots. There were some Sci-Fi station IDs, that tasteless commercial from the Superbowl where a family is led to believe that the father has just been killed in the hospital, and I think Bill Ford showed up once to talk about cars. That's all I remember. I generally don't pay that much attention to commercials under the best circumstances, but I felt particularly that my level of engagement with the episode diverted any marginal attention I might have spared for advertising.

So if my theory is correct, the ideal television programming, from an industry standpoint, is just entertaining enough to attract and hold large numbers of viewers but not actually interesting or compelling, so viewers are slightly bored and restless when the commercials come on and ready to pay attention to them. No wonder that over-hyped and frequently disappointing spectacles like, well, the Superbowl or the Oscars are the crown jewels of the networks. Yet another reason to hope that iTunes video really does ring the death knell for broadcast television.