Someone pass the remote

Justin Law

Once upon a time, cable was just something they dumped old “M*A*S*H” reruns on, or the occasional made for TV movie. The Networks never gave them a second thought.

That is, until three letters came along that changed the TV industry forever: HBO.

While HBO started as a small channel that played movies and the occasional documentary, it smashed into the TV landscape with two monster hits, “The Sopranos,” and “Sex and The City.”

Unlike Network shows, HBO allowed for more sex, violence and profanity, but more importantly, more complicated story telling.

It could be argued that “The Sopranos” paved the way for many shows today, proving that audiences could watch and relate to characters who were not “good guys” but still find them compelling. And this was just the start.

HBO began creating shows that no mainstream Network would touch, and these shows not only had consistently great writing, and acting and production, they had much deeper themes and concepts than other, more conventional shows the Network was putting out. And, as you can imagine, other cable stations began to arise.

FX began the charge and it just kept going.  Following that was Showtime, AMC and Sci-Fi, which is generally home to cheesy made for TV movies. For example, “Battlestar Galactica,” considered by many to be one of the defining shows of our time.

While all this has been going on, what have the Networks been up to? Why the endless parade of reality shows, rip offs of already popular shows and procedurals.

This new season, we have eleven new procedurals! Why? We already have a million of them, why add more? Look at your listing, is it me, or is it all looking the same?

The simple fact is that cable has set the bar, and the Big 4 are not rising to it. The Networks have a tendency to be a bit “cancel happy” and they tend to meddle too much, which drives the really talented people over to cable.

And so have many viewers.

So while AMC has been brutally deconstructing the concept of the American dream with “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad,” and FX dealt with the ideas of what is right and wrong in a flawed society with “The Shield,” what have the Networks given us?

Yet another season of “Two and a Half Men.”

Someone pass the remote.