Television was once described as a "vast wasteland" - much potential but far too often falling short of expectations. And though opinions vary, I suspect that description would apply to television today. During a discussion the other night on the current state of network television offerings, the talk turned to the current rage of reality TV. I, for one, have had just about enough reality.
Lo and behold, this morning I flipped through the latest useless media reports and there it was - reality TV has lost its luster with audiences and may head the way of the dinosaur in the not-too-distant future.
The networks, it seems, are finding that reality TV is wearing thin with viewers. There are exceptions. "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" is going gangbusters. At present, 16 million viewers tune in the ABC show and that's up a whopping 44 percent over last year. But that's about the only shining light on the reality horizon.
Flops include "The Next Great Champ," "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss" and "The Rebel Billionaire." "The Benefactor" was such a loser it was condensed to get it off the air. And others that had their day in the spotlight are now losing like a Massachusetts' senator on Election Day. "The Bachelor," "The Apprentice" and "Fear Factor" are all seeing their audience cut substantially.
"American Idol" still remains popular and profitable so it may be around a while longer. But many of these reality fiascos will soon fade into the sunset and producers may actually have to scramble for some real television.
Television runs in cycles. Remember when most of the top-rated programs were Westerns? And then detective shows were all the rage. Well those formats didn't last and neither will reality TV.
Maybe it's my age or maybe it's the sad state of television programming but I'd rather watch a documentary on some obscure station than watch fools eat cow innards. And watching a group of amateurs sing and dance week after week just puts me to sleep.
I like sitcoms, sports and Fox news. I also like hot dogs, flannel sheets and Oprah. But that's probably more information than you need to know.
And one final note. Of all the reality TV shows, I truly enjoy "Extreme Home Edition Makeover." But I like it because of the genuine stories and the true emotions that you see every week. And yes, I get teary-eyed just like you do when the new home is unveiled.
I won't shed a tear however when the legacy of the reality programming is over. Then perhaps the geniuses behind our nightly viewing will actually have to devise a new genre for the American public. And don't tell anyone, but a good Western wouldn't upset me one bit!