A Little Quick Math:
I've gotten to the point where I'm not so much surprised and angry at shows being cancelled as I am just kind of tired of it. Wonderfalls, a show I had quickly fallen in love with, got cancelled as of its fourth episode, and there won't be any more. Meanwhile, more and more reality shows that I wouldn't watch if you put a gun to my head continue to take the place of scripted programming. And networks bitch because their viewership overall is down. Maybe not everybody likes the reality shows and cheesy sitcoms? Maybe we want more than three or four flavors of CSI and a half-dozen Law & Orders? And I say this as someone who Tivos CSI and Friends, and who used to Tivo Law & Order! It's not that the formula drama and sitcoms are crimes against nature or anything, it's just that I'd like a little more originality and imagination in my TV as well.
Anyway, a little quick math from this season:
Number of new shows I liked (Wonderfalls, Arrested Development, Karen Sisco) = 3
(minus) Number of shows cancelled (Wonderfalls, Karen Sisco, Angel) = 3
(minus) Number of new shows likely to be cancelled (Arrested Development) = 1
(plus) Number of continuing shows I was enjoying (24, Alias, Angel, The Shield, West Wing, The Daily Show) = 6
(minus) Number of shows that went downhill (24, West Wing) = 2
Me watching three shows next season: The Daily Show, Alias and The Shield. Only one of which is actually a network show. Unless the pilot season winds up much stronger than its looking (no Joss Whedon and no Aaron Sorkin), I'm going to be strictly on DVDs of HBO/Showtime shows and movies and reruns of shows when TV was better. Which is fine by me, I don't really need any more TV to watch, but I wonder how universal that experience is, and how much that has to do with the general decline of network TV viewership?
Seems like maybe the nets, if they want to build their viewership again, need to stop with the constant rollout of the new and maybe try and build a critical darling into a big hit, the way they used to do with shows like Cheers, Seinfeld, The X-Files, etc.