Whitesburg KY

My Christmas list for Santa (no chimney required)


Dear Santa: It’s beginning to look a lot like — well, you know like what.

So I’ve got a yule log crackling on my flat-screen TV. The stockings are hung with carelessness. And I’m putting a few TV wishes out there in the hope you’ll notice and make them come true.— There have been some good shows, but I think you’d agree that, overall, 2008 came up short.

Now what? TV is more important than usual, since no one can afford to leave the house, and people getting laid off have a lot of extra time on their hands.

The moment is ripe for the networks to address our economic plight with relatable new comedies and dramas. (Hello, we’re in a recession!) So I’d like the gift of some new shows that face the audience’s harsh shared reality with a little humor and even reassurance.

This fall a comedy-drama about a family of loan sharks, “Easy Money,” arrived perfectly in synch with the economic meltdown. But buried on the CW network Sunday nights, it was overlooked and swiftly canceled.

Hey, anybody remember past hits like “Roseanne”? It was entertaining, and at the same time in tune with the working-class concerns of its viewers. Santa, could you whisper in the ears of TV programmers: Enough with the lawyers, cops and the jabbing of corpses in mood-lit laboratories! How about something with which we can identify?

— And while you’re at it, Santa, would you please step in before it’s too late and ward off a strike by the Screen Actors Guild? Networks, studios and viewers are still reeling from the writers strike. How much worse will the TV scene be if actors and producers don’t find some common ground and their shows grind to a halt?

Santa, please pass along this question to the SAG leadership: Are you crazy?! And here’s a question you can ask the other side: Are you crazy?!

— One of many likely results from an actors strike (just as with the writers strike) would be an upsurge of reality programming to fill the gap. And this would happen, ironically, when the audience may at last be kicking its reality addiction.

In a recent report, industry analyst Brad Adgate found viewership down for every unscripted show except NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” With the stripmalling of reality/competition shows, each as indistinguishable from another, has the genre reached its saturation point?

That’s not to say there isn’t hunger for fresh ideas. And I happen to have one. Santa, please pitch this concept to a network (I’ll give you a nice percentage): I’m calling my show “The Big Bailout.” It’s a high-stakes game show where the contestant who competes most ineptly, with the least scruples, wins the big cash jackpot.

— One more thing, Santa: As we near the five-year anniversary of Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl flash dance, would you deliver a commemorative plaque inscribed with “GET A LIFE” to everyone who has stayed in a lather over that morals-threatening display, as well as assaults on decency like the occasional inadvertent onthe air F-bomb?

The courts, politicians, pundits, indignant viewer groups and, of course, the Federal Communications Commission — all are painfully ill-equipped to settle an issue people have disputed since the first caveman scrawled an X-rated drawing in a public cave.

There must be more important things for all of us to do. My Christmas wish is that we will.

Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore@ap.org

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