Thursday, April 10, 2008

"Filler Television" Pads Programming with Unnecessary Bulk

How dumb do television producers think we are? Apparently pretty dumb, based on the growing phenomenon known as “filler television” that seems to permeate a number of very popular TV shows. And I don’t even know if “filler television” is the correct term for all the “padding” producers use to extend their lack of content into longer programs; but it seems like an appropriate moniker.

If you’re not sure what I’m referring to, I will give you some examples. “American Idol” is the biggest and most popular abuser of “filler” television, especially when they extend a two-minute elimination ceremony into an hour-long event. (Or a two-hour event, in the case of the overly hyped season finales.) Having little original content in which to fill the time slot, they regurgitate footage of the last episode over and over again until our brains are turned to mush. To me, this is insulting. Why would I want to sit through highlights of a show I saw only last night? Do they really think I won’t remember what happened unless they replay it for me? Am I really that vacuous?

I also think it’s ridiculous when the show comes back after a commercial break and before we can continue the program, we must sit through five minutes of recap on what we just saw before the break. This is not only insulting, but degrading, as the producers are clearly indicating that we can’t even remember what happened five minutes ago. Which makes me wonder if television is still geared toward the lowest common denominator, or we’ve all just become “the lowest common denominator” because we watch television.

If I want to watch a TV show again, I’ll wait for a rerun. I don’t need you to show it again the next day in bite-size pieces as if I’m suffering from Alzheimer’s. It only contributes to the dumbing down of America when you have to give a recap every twenty-four hours to make sure we're paying attention. Imagine if that convention spilled over into “real life,” and someone would have to remind you the day after your wedding that you’d actually gone through with it.

“Last night, the couple fought for their relationship in a nail-biting matrimonial ceremony that can only be referred to as ostentatious. Hearts were joined, wine was spilled, and the Best Man ran away with the new Mother-in-Law. Yes, it was an exciting evening of thrills and surprises. But it’s nothing compared with what the Honeymoon might offer. Stay tuned for upcoming scenes.

All I can say is, Thank God for DVR. It used to be that I would only use it this helpful recording device to fast forward through commercial breaks. But now I’ve found that I can actually fast forward through most of the shows, too. Last night, I watched the results show for “Dancing with the Stars” in a record-breaking four minutes. And you know what? I didn’t miss a thing. And today, I feel like some of my brain cells are actually started to regenerate themselves.

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