TV is Good; TV is a Mystery

April 5, 2009 at 12:28 pm (Uncategorized)

Heather Havrilesky on the cancellation of the US version of Life on Mars, and the mystery that is TV ratings. 

[T]hat said, seeing a show this good go down the tubes so quickly is pretty depressing — and pretty incredible. Take a hit show on the BBC, seamlessly and wittily adapt it for an American audience, throw in an all-star cast that includes Michael Imperioli, Harvey Keitel and Gretchen Mol, and then toss in smart writing, cool sets and great old music, and what do you end up with? A bomb. Meanwhile, “CSI: Miami” reigns supreme.

Like most of us, I try to cultivate an attitude of non- attachment when it comes to the fickle whims of American TV viewers, but every now and then I feel a little pessimistic and defeated in spite of myself. Why does Dancing With the Stars attract huge audiences, while it’s still up in the air whether NBC’s Friday Night Lights“will end after such a touching and down-to-earth third season? Why would a great episode of  30 Rock  pull in roughly the same ratings as another pointless episode of Celebrity Apprentice? Why should Fox’s Dollhouse struggle for healthy ratings, when American Idol crushes the competition every week like a despotic king? Just ask Precious Ramotswe and she’ll tell you: Some mysteries aren’t meant to be solved, and some wrongs will never be made right.

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