Earlier in the week I looked at the shows that generated the most water cooler buzz over the course of 2013. Today, I’m gonna take a little more of a look behind the curtain, as we look back at the bigger stories that affected the small screen not only this year, but in years to come.
5 – Chris Hardwick’s Career Resurrection
Up until about a year or two ago, Chris Hardwick was best known as the “other host” on mid-90’s MTV show Singled Out (aka the annoying guy who stood next to Jenny McCarthy and Carmen Electra). After disappearing for nearly a decade, Hardwick slowly started to regain name recognition thanks to his current role as the kingpin of internet media giant The Nerdist. However 2013 was the year that we started to see Hardwick all over the screen, whether it was in a new comedy special, hosting The Talking Dead or Talking Bad for AMC, or his newest show, @Midnight on Comedy Central (which picked up a 40 week order a few weeks ago). It seems now that Hardwick, along with other veterans of the podcasting scene are slowly taking over comedy on television and is one of TV’s happier stories of 2013.
4 – Death Rocks Every Corner of Television
There have been very few years I can think of in which TV deaths have been more common and prominent than this year. Every era of television managed to have one key star pass away whether it was the Golden Age of TV in Jonathon Winters and Jean Stapleton of All in the Family to more modern shows such as the passing of Cory Monteith of Glee and Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini (both in untimely fashion). The theme of death seemed to even extend out to this years Emmy awards, where the show put eulogy style memoriams together for each of the mentioned above.
3 – CBS is slowly coming back into orbit with the other networks
In the last decade it seemed like CBS was immune to many of the trends that affected the rest of the big four: slumping ratings, a dearth of new hits, and a tendency to over tinker with their identity. However, we are now seeing CBS start to show real signs of creaking. Ratings are slowly dropping into the mid 2’s (the other three networks are in the mid 1’s for comparison), the shows that are getting ratings are slowly aging (NCIS, CSI, Two and A Half Men are all in their second decade, the finishing How I Met Your Mother is in season nine, even relatively young Big Bang Theory is in season seven), and it’s new shows aren’t pulling their weight. The days of a show pulling a number like “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” did in 1983 are long gone.
2 – Showtime and AMC have a large rebuilding task in front of them.
It seems like every network is losing a flagship show by the end of the 2013-14 season, but this is most alarming for Showtime and AMC. Showtime, which has been reeling for a couple of years finished off one of it’s more popular series in Dexter in a floundering fashion, while AMC has to cope with the end of Breaking Bad. The problem with both is that the series that were meant to replace them, Ray Donovan for Showtime and Low Winter Sun for AMC were particularly weak, putting huge gaps in both networks summer lineups. While Showtime can fall back on Homeland and AMC has The Walking Dead and a spackle season of Mad Men to hold the fort, both need to do a better job developing series, or both will lose the good will that they’ve garnered over the past half-decade.
1 – Netflix is for real when it comes to original programming
2013 could potentially end up being a turning point in how we consume our scripted fare, and a large part of that is due to the explosion in prestige shows hitting internet distributors. While Hulu plus builds off of a network library and had some tepid hits, Netflix managed to put three top notch series in it’s original programming portfolio in House of Cards, Arrested Development, and Orange is the New Black. These add credibility to the web based distribution channels that are also slowly proliferating the public consciousness whether it’s drama based Wigs, Hulu Plus, Netflix, or Amazon Prime and more importantly represents the paradigm shift we’ve somewhat expected for a few years.