Monday, September 21, 2009

Sept. 21: Emmys Reflect Dying TV Breed

By Sylvia Gurinsky

Were the critics watching the same Emmy Awards I was? Apparently not.

They seemed to like what I found so humorless and tasteless that I switched channels after an hour. Neil Patrick Harris, so good at the Tony Awards, did his best here, but couldn't overcome a downright weird, at best, show.

And now Rob Lowe has the dubious distinction of having been involved in the two worst televised awards shows of all time. At least this time, he didn't have primary responsibility.

But the Emmys perfectly reflected the decline and fall of broadcast television.

Once, in an age before VCRs, it could be a painful decision to choose between two popular series. One could always find something to watch, be it comedy or drama. Characters were relatively functional people - a bit loony, sometimes, but no one you'd be sorry to meet. Heroes were heroes. Villains were villains. Most television characters were kind. There was no in-between. Reality was the nightly newscast.

For a while from the 1960s through the 1990s, television even managed to set standards and break barriers.

It's pretty much been a downhill decline since the late 90s. The majority of this writer's viewing these days is on PBS, and on DVDs of classic television series. Only CBS' Tuesday night lineup and "The Mentalist" (moving to Thursdays) and NBC's "The Jay Leno Show" hold any interest for me on traditional networks. Not even Kelsey Grammer's new show "Hank," which looks like just another variation of his beloved Frasier Crane character.

The most astute comment I heard before I switched the channel last night was Julia Louis-Dreyfus calling this the "last official year of broadcast television."

She may be right.

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