Let’s bow our heads for a moment of silence. As we learned last night, NBC snuffed out one of our favorite procedurals, the gritty, fantastically acted Southland. You’d think shoving Jay Leno down our throats for five hours of primetime would be injury enough, but no—they had to add insult. This, NBC. This is why TV viewers are dropping network for cable in ever-greater numbers. Viewers know cable offers the kind of risky, investment-heavy programming that’s rare on network television these days, and what’s better, cable will actually stick with it.
Take a show like Mad Men. There’s very little nudity (I can’t recall any, anyway), almost no swearing, and not much in the way of questionable content. Yet this is exactly the kind of show that would never make it on network television. It’s too involved, asks too much of its audience. It’s a think piece. In its own way, so was Southland. Performances (particularly from Regina King, C. Thomas Howell, and Michael Cudlitz) were inspired, the writing was original, and the characters themselves grew in complexity every week. As a TV journalist, I refuse to join the chorus of those who snipe that network doesn’t do good work anymore—The Big Bang Theory, Castle, and House all disprove that, and that’s just one night—but I certainly understand the frustration. All we can do to counter the networks’ shortsightedness is to continue supporting the programs we love, write a few angry columns and letters, and hope that somebody gets it before their business model runs them into the ground. So let’s at least do one of the three and get to this week’s worthy programming. READ FULL STORY