Two completely unrelated things that, on their own, wouldn’t really be full-scale posts:
1. This Brian Lowry piece from Variety doesn’t say much that’s new about the problems facing serialized shows on network TV, but at least it gathers the two big bits of conventional wisdom in one place. Serials are heavily susceptible to big ratings dips, and they’re more heavily DVR’d than procedurals are, meaning that large numbers of viewers aren’t watching the commercials (and are therefore considered useless). An interesting thing about all this is that viewers have been skipping commercials for years — before there was DVR, there was the VCR and the fast-forward button — and yet the networks still haven’t figured out how to make that kind of viewing count for them. Maybe the problem is just insoluble; when your business model is based on giving away your product for free, advertising revenue is practically the only thing that works. But you kind of feel like there should be another way to make money off people who like the product.
Also, this serials vs. procedurals thing does get me to thinking, again, that there should be more of a market on the networks for non-serialized shows that don’t follow a procedural format, like the lighthearted adventure show a la The A-Team or the non-serialized science fiction or fantasy show. (Say, a show like Heroes, but in an adventure-of-the-week format.) You see those shows on USA or TNT, but not the broadcast networks. One of the frustrating things about non-serialized TV is that even though it’s a money-maker for the networks, they aren’t taking much of advantage of its creative potential, or the things it can do that a serial can’t (compensation for the obvious advantages that serials have over the episodic format).
2. The season 4 DVD of Taxi, as expected, nukes the episode “Vienna Waits,” cutting out the Billy Joel song that the episode was built around. They also chopped out the scene from the famous “Elegant Iggy” episode where Christopher Lloyd (the actor, not the writer) sings “Two Sleepy People.” Other episodes appear to have sustained some music cuts, though I don’t know which ones (an episode called “Tony’s Old Lady” has a short running time, so a song sequence must have been chopped). Still better than not having the season released at all, but frustrating. Here’s the ending of “Elegant Iggy” with the song intact.