2017 in review: Hold our beers

We needed a lot of these to get through 2017.

This Bud’s for you – 2017 a carbon city of 2016

2016: The worst year ever.

2017: Hold my beer.

Yes, you saw this type of “hold my beer” exchanges this year as 2017 turned out to be lousy as advertised. For one thing, American Idol is coming back thanks to ABC. This and host Ryan Seacrest appearing on TV on a daily basis again is enough to make you down several cases of Schlitz Malt Liquor.

And in the media world, there were deals that shook up the landscape and then some. The biggest deal of the year – and probably ever – came just two weeks ago when 21st Century Fox agreed to be purchased by The Walt Disney Company, leaving only behind Fox, Fox News, Fox O&Os, and Fox Sports. Other media marriages included Scripps and Discovery; Meredith and Time Inc., and of course, Sinclair’s $4 billion purchase of Chicago-based Tribune Broadcasting, owners of WGN-TV and WGN-AM.

Chicago radio saw some changes, too. The biggest change came in November when fresh off the biggest radio deal in history when Entercom closed on its purchase of CBS Radio, the company’s WJMK-FM kept the Classic moniker but flipped from Hits to Hip-Hop/R&B. Meanwhile, Kathy Hart walked off the job as co-host of WTMX’s Eric and Kathy Show and never returned as ratings were not affected.

The Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal turned the media world upside down this year rocking every nook and cranny of the business, from Hollywood to the national anchor desks in New York. Among those calling it quits or were fired include Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Andrew Kreisberg, Garrison Kellior, and countless others.

Meanwhile, Chicago TV saw a lot of retirements in 2017 – thankfully, none of them connected to sexual harassment charges as Mark Suppelsa, Steve Baskerville, Jim Ramsey, Frank Mathie, Robert Jordan, Joel Weisman, Charles Thomas, and Jerry Taft all called it a career. And speaking of goodbyes, we said good riddance to 2 Broke Girls and Celebrity Name Game. Also gone is some local radio and media site with a dark blue background I can’t remember the name of.

Channels departed too – notably WYCC, becoming the first local TV station to completely sign off since 1975 as they sold their spectrum in the incentive auction (and bungled it up.) In San Diego, XETV lost its CW affiliation and ended its run as an English-language station after 64 years, ceding its signal to Spanish-language Mexican network Canal 5. Also axed were little-watched cable channels Cloo and Chiller and streaming service Comic-Con HQ.

The biggest hit of 2017? New episodes of an old show from 15 years ago. (“Will & Grace”)

Network television continued its downward spiral in 2017 as the major broadcasters delved into reboots with either new casts (SWAT) or their original ones (Will & Grace.) And while the world was talking about Stranger Things, the once-funny Big Bang Theory came up with the lamest season-ending cliffhanger of all time when Sheldon proposed to Amy. Was there any doubt she would say yes? In daytime, Ryan Seacrest joined Kelly Ripa in May and Megyn Kelly arrived in September in a race to see who can annoy more viewers in the 9 a.m. time period. On the flipside, the still-potent Survivor proved even in its 17th year, the show can provide jaw-dropping moments and dramas This Is Us and The Good Doctor proves broadcast television still can draw an audience when the right formula comes along.

The NFL continued its downward descent with anthem protests and other problems taking their toll on the sport. Not helping of course, is the continued ineptitude of the Bears, but did spark a ratings increase locally thanks to the arrival of rookie QB Mitch Trubisky. Meanwhile, the NBA’s ratings surged despite the lack of competitiveness from teams in the top markets (namely the Bulls) and the World Series did just fine with a Dodgers-Astros matchup.

As the rest of us suffered through 2017, it was a great year for those who hated regulation as net neutrality went away, the lifeline program nearly eliminated, and the UHF discount restored in a scam perpetrated by Republican members of the FCC led by Chairman Ajit Pai, who did a poor imitation of a Soul Train line in a video explaining net neutrality.

President Trump continued his assault on Chicago throughout the year as his feud with city officials – namely Mayor Rahm Emanuel – showed no signs of abating. And the nation’s third-largest market continued to see residents head for the exits as revenues continue to fall for local media outlets. Worse, Chicago continues to receive worldwide negative press for its homicide and crime rate, despite a drop from 2016’s levels. Not helping matters was the viral video beating of a disabled teen on Facebook just days into the New Year, with the hate crime fueling more right-wing angst towards Chicago. Add the Cubs failing to repeat as World Series Champions and all other sports teams underperforming, 2017 was another forgettable year for the Windy City.

But all was not lost – Chicago’s TV and movie production continues to bloom, despite the departure of talk show host Steve Harvey, who had an odd policy about approaching him in the workplace.

And speaking of Trump,  made social media unbearable as he was mentioned in my Twitter feed every five minutes on average.

“Last Week Tonight” is the top show of 2017 – by far.

Best Shows of 2017

Remember “The Excellent 10” and “The Toilet 10” lists in the early years of the blog? Sure you do… I’ve become disenchanted with lists (that’s why they’ve been cut to five each), so no more pictures of toilets or trophies.

Now, I know a lot of these shows you won’t find on a whole lot of Top 10 best of lists – probably because those shows I haven’t gotten around to watching yet. So…

1. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (HBO)

2. Young Sheldon (CBS)

3. Bob’s Burgers (Fox)

4. Riverdale (CW)

5. Shameless (Showtime)

Unfortunately, last year’s winner Jessica Jones is ineligible because there were no new episodes available to air this year, and yours truly did not get around to watching Luke Cage or Defenders. But here are shows on my wish list for 2018: Stranger Things, Master Of None, and Fuller House (just to see how bad it is.) But with Peak TV and all the sports I watch, It is hard to find time to watch these shows. Surprised a lot of critics didn’t have Young Sheldon on their best lists. Really? Maybe The Big Bang Theory connection is the reason why.

And an honorable mention goes to CBC’s Interrupt This Program, for a segment on Chicago’s violence epidemic without divulging into racial stereotypes – something American media needs to learn from (particularly Megan Kelly’s show, which featured such a piece in its premiere episode.)

Worst shows of 2017

Yes, I know most critics don’t even do these type of lists anymore – I guess the less said, the better. And besides, the year’s worst can be found in my annual Turkey Awards list every November. Thus:

1. Inhumans (ABC)

2. Me, Myself, and I (CBS)

3. APB (Fox)

4. Law and Order: True Crime: The Melendez Brothers (NBC)

5. Tie: Megyn Kelly Today (NBC)/Live With Kelly and Ryan (syndicated)

The Orville should have made this list, but I kept it off (despite the review of the pilot I wrote about) because I think the series is probably better than the critics are leading us on to believe. And yeah, Star Trek: Discovery was a disappointment. And Dirty Dancing led yours truly to declare the TV movie dead.

In the next few days, look for what to expect in 2018 and an update on 2017s predictions. Happy New Year from T Dog Media!

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