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In PG poll, TV takes a bashing
Friday, May 08, 2009
By Rob Owen, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Many voters who commented in the Post-Gazette’s annual Keep or Cancel poll said that TV is a vast wasteland, but few of them could agree on what makes it so.
For some viewers, it was reality TV. But others cited reality shows “The Biggest Loser” or “Dancing With the Stars” as favorites.
So here’s the reality check: TV is not inherently terrible. Some individual shows are awful, but which programs fit that description is a matter of taste.
This year’s poll drew 7,890 votes, more than double the number of votes cast last year. The reason? Fans of low-rated, likely-doomed sci-fi shows “Dollhouse” and “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” made an orchestrated effort to drum up votes.
These fans, mostly from outside Southwestern Pennsylvania, succeeded to a degree — at one point, “Dollhouse” was the top “Keep” series — but ultimately more Pittsburghers voted, blasting away the sci-fi dramas in favor of other programming.
Keep or Cancel results
See how TV viewers voted in this year’s Keep or Cancel poll.
The impact of the sci-fi voters, generally younger and more male, did result in more votes from younger viewers this year than we usually see. That probably explains the presence of “The Daily Show,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “The Office” alongside “60 Minutes.”
Full results — broken down by network — are available at post-gazette.com/tv.
The best part of the annual poll is reading the comments left by voters. Patterns often emerge. This year, viewers seemed particularly upset with ABC’s handling of its series.
“ABC is losing me,” wrote Barb Flaherty-Kuhn, 57, of Pittsburgh. “Loved ‘Pushing Daisies,’ and they never even ended the storyline. Love ‘Life on Mars,’ and they killed that one, too. It seems the offbeat, imaginative shows get canceled for more ‘reality shows,’ but there’s nothing real about these shows.”
There were repeated references to the sad state of NBC: “It used to be the channel to watch,” wrote Craig Pellegrini, 24, of BellevÂue. “Now it’s just a sad shell of its former self.”
And frustration over networks’ impatience.
“Again this year I watched less traditional broadcast television,” wrote Paul Bruschi, 43, of Pittsburgh. “The lack of commitment to shows by the networks makes me not want to begin watching something that will be canceled after less than one year.”
There were expressions of humorous contempt for bad ideas — “My vote for the dumbest thing I heard this year is the Sci Fi Channel changing its name to Syfy in July,” wrote Doug Rosengard, 41, of Monroeville. “The only thing worse I can think of would be Fox deciding to change its name to ‘FOCKS'” — and indictments of viewers for their TV habits.
“I’m basically sick of most shows on TV and we have no one to blame but ourselves,” wrote Dave Wingenroth, 31, of Wilkins. “Every time we watch another reality TV show or an unoriginal reboot of an old show or another awful sitcom with a laugh track, we’re telling the networks it’s OK to produce crap. I find myself watching Discovery or the History Channel because so many mainstream shows are so uninspired or just completely mindless. It’s the dumbification of America and we’re all participating.”
Comments also provided a glimpse at viewing habits that will shape the medium’s future.
“I’m newly 40, with friends ages 20 to 40, and I don’t know anyone who watches TV ‘live’ anymore,” wrote Will Bueche of Boulder, Colo. “Everyone downloads their favorite programs — either from iTunes, Amazon, or elsewhere. I worry that the ratings system is hopelessly off-the-mark.”
And, of course, there was the occasional gripe about local TV sprinkled in among the comments about prime time.
“I think WPXI really handled the meteorologist thing very badly,” wrote Peggy Bloch, 56, of Natrona Heights. “I was glad that Julie Bologna was coming back but I think they made a mistake in demoting Mike LaPoint. He did a good job and was very likable.”
Contact TV editor Rob Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1112.
First published on May 8, 2009 at 12:00 am