T Dog’s Think Tank: Four thoughts – one column

(Editor’s Note: The original version of this post stated that the Chicago White Sox had a nine-game LOSING streak when in fact, they had a nine-game WINNING streak. T Dog Media regrets the error and apologizes. This also makes yours truly qualified to work in the Los Angeles news media, where I can botch up names of Los Angeles Kings’ players and also refer to them as the Los Angeles Mighty Ducks of Huntington Beach. – T.H.)

I have a deal for you today! I have four think tanks for the price of one! In fact, its four for the price of none! You can’t beat a deal better than that! Here’s my takes on the recent going on in media business:

Upfront week ended two weeks ago, and here’s the tally… in all, there are 21 new shows on the four major networks (and the one who pretends to be a network), down from 27 a year ago. While there are plenty of new dramas (twelve), there are nine sitcoms debuting this fall, the most in years (who said the sitcom is dead?) And for those who complain about reality TV taking over… surprise! There are no new reality shows on network schedules coming this fall, as aside for existing reality shows, the genre for the most part has been regulated to cable TV and the doldrums of summer.

But the new schedules are a bit of a letdown – forget trying to find anything innovative here. And there are many, many dumb moves, especially by NBC and CW. The worst new show of the fall season is actually on CBS: Elementary, which yours truly thinks could be the first casualty of the fall season, given how dumb the show’s premise is. While affiliates are bullish on the nets’ fall schedules (what else they’re supposed to say, since they are nothing but robots controlled by their broadcast group overlords), look for more erosion from the broadcast networks as viewers continue to flee for the exits.

The hottest local media story this week involved the Chicago White Sox – but not the team or their nine-game losing winning streak. On Wednesday, Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, the team’s play-by-play announcer, called out umpire Mark Wegner on the air, who ejected a White Sox pitcher for throwing behind a Tampa Bay Rays player, obviously in retaliation for a fellow White Sox player earlier. Harrelson slammed into the umpire in a clip you can view here.

Harrelson was reprimanded by MLB Commissioner Bud Selig and White Sox owner Jerry Reinsodorf on Friday.

Okay, Harrelson was over the top and a little too bit animated. And he came off as unprofessional. But so what? Given all the flurry of bad (and non) calls we saw in professional sports  – particularly in the NBA and the first-round of the NHL playoffs this year, it’s about time someone call out an official and to send a message to these slimeball commissioners in each of the four major sports.  And to those complaining about Harrelson’s homerism – again so what? What about the homerism Fox News proudly displays for the GOP? That’s much worse.

Sure, Harrelson is a polarizing personality – but so is Seth MacFarlane, Tyler Perry, Jesse Jackson, Rush Limbaugh, Nene Leakes, Dan Harmon, Michael Pflager, Walter Jacobson, Vince McMahon, Mancow Mueller, anyone associated with the Parents Television Council, and hundreds more in this business, whether they work in it or not. Get used to it.

But with low ratings so far for White Sox games, you wonder how long they’ll stick with Harrelson. We may have another Dan Harmon-like situation on our hands.

Speaking of poor ratings, how embarrassing is it for the NHL to have two top-market teams in the Stanley Cup Finals – the New Jersey Devils and the Los Angeles Kings – to get beaten Wedensday night in the ratings in both their home markets by an NBA playoff game on ESPN which did not feature the Lakers, Clippers, Knicks, or Nets.

On WNBC in New York, Game One of the SCF between the Devils and Kings drew a 5.1 household rating, while KNBC in Los Angeles drew a 4.2 household rating. But in both markets, the SCF was outdrawn by a Boston Celtics-Miami Heat playoff game on ESPN with a 7.4 in New York and a 6.1 in Los Angeles.

Even worse for the NHL, the first game of the Stanley Cup Final drew a higher household rating in small-market Buffalo (7.8) than it did in New York and Los Angeles (should the NHL dream matchup be Sabres-Blackhawks instead?) Clearly, the New York Rangers (who were eliminated by the Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals), would have been a bigger draw. New Jersey teams traditionally don’t draw well in the New York City DMA. In 2001 for example, the New Jersey Nets played the Lakers in the NBA Finals, and ratings in the New York market were smaller than those in Los Angeles, but also in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Memphis.

Meanwhile, the Kings – much like the White Sox – are a fickle draw in their home market and have trouble drawing viewers even when they win (chalk it up to the increasing entertainment choices casual fans have at their disposal.)

The first game of the Stanley Cup Final drew only a 1.1 adult demo rating on Wednesday, a five-year low and could go lower on low-level HUT Saturday night. Not a good start for the NBCUniversal regime as they invested around than a billion dollars in televising NHL games across their family of networks for ten years.

A “question” a reader from Minnesota sent in to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette TV Critic Rob Owen (who I follow on Twitter) lamented the lackluster state of TV programming these days, from “un-real reality shows” to too many procedural dramas. Owen told the reader his question – or more like, his opinion, doesn’t hold water given the multitude of choices in the video landscape these days, saying viewers should educate themselves on what to find on TV and keeping up with popular culture and turning off the set with the show is over (in fact – the Minnesota reader has a Netflix subscription.)

Yours truly tends to agree. The worst way to form a bad opinion of television is to channel surf looking for something to watch and landing on many, many bad shows. If you want to find something good on television, then you have to look for it (yep, there’s work involved.) But instead of surfing with the remote, read reviews and opinions on sites such as Metacritic, TV Media Insights, Television Without Pity, Hitfix, HuffPost’s TV Site, and others (I would also say TV Barn, but that site is on hiatus); and check out your for local TV critic’s blog for some information – I have some links on The Sidebar to your right you can check out. Also check out Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube, and chances are you’ll find something good. And if you don’t like it, you can always shut off the program in the first ten minutes, give or take. It’s our responsibility as viewers to find something on television worthwhile.

By doing this, the only thing you’ll use your remote for is to turn to your favorite show and not land accidentally on , oh I don’t know… The Real Housewives of Winnipeg, The Hunt For The Next Celebrity Bachelor ApprenticeEverybody Loves To Friend Around With Earl, or reruns of Small Wonder.

Speaking of bad TV, The T Dog Media TV Hall Of Shame hasn’t been updated in the past year. So in the next couple of days, The Shame will have a Grand Re-Opening Celebration – updated with the freshest bad TV around – and boy, there are plenty of entries from this season and seasons past. So stay tuned!

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