by Herbie J Pilato
Reality shows, scripted TV, talk shows, documentaries, and infomercials.
You never know which you’re watching anymore these days. Everything seems to be almost a blur, with each form melding into the other. Many television programs today are presented at such a hectic pace, in execution and as well as from an organic standpoint within their “premise,” segment, or episode; be they a sitcom, drama, TV-movie, mini-series, news or magazine show, on either broadcast or cable television.
A prime example of this development takes place on the talk show.
The talking heads on talk shows or news broadcasts of any genre, for example, are so bent on making every attempt to get a word in, edgewise, that their very point of being on the show, or their very point of view, gets lost in their manic presentation and seemingly ultimate objective to “out-talk” the other members of the panel.
The guest who makes an appearance on any given talk show to plug his or her latest TV show, feature film, music CD, live performance, or book almost becomes a “no-show,” at least with regard to comprehension. The viewer becomes so distracted by what they don’t see, or by what they expected to see, and do not, that any potential enjoyment which may have been received or experienced by watching their favorite media personality, never sees the light of day. Again, it all gets lost in some sad mix of manic and incoherent performance and interaction between the guest and the host, the latter of whom many times does not allow their guest to talk in the first place (a startling and ironic development in and of itself for any alleged “talk” show).
In all, there are just plain too many guests on talk shows in the first place. And this has transpired for fear that the viewer might become bored with a mere singular or two-guest format. Instead, TV talk show hosts welcome their multiple guests in such manic increments of 5 or 6 minutes a piece, moving at such a hectic pace, that after a given segment is completed, the viewer is left to wonder what just happened. Additionally, the watcher finds themselves no more informed about the given point of discussion of the performer in the first place.
In like manner, this type of hectic pace is presented across the board of television programming.
Actors so swiftly perform their scripted words and given lines on sitcoms, dramas and TV-movies, that audience members struggle to first hear and understand what is being said on the screen. The manic camera angles, overt use of “flashbacks” and new “winks” and references to the audience, as an attempt to “break the fourth wall” between the given telecast and the audience, doesn’t much help matters.
So, what’s the answer?
Everybody needs to calm down and slow the pace.
What good is the greatness of any television show of any format or genre, scripted or reality-based, fiction or nonfiction, news or newsworthy, if the viewer doesn’t properly receive the transmission?
The great performances are never fully embraced by the audience. The great stories never get told in the appropriate way. The great words of the writer of any given television program of any genre are never fully spoken, heard, performed, relayed, showcased, interpreted and received.
In essence, all television programming is at risk of mutating into one big three-minute promotional spot or commercial.
And what good is any of that? What productive form of expression does this leave for the creative mind, be they the giver or receiver of audio and visual media stimulation?
Herbie J Pilato is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about him HERE.