Posted by Jawaballs at 10:13 AM
A few years ago on Halloween, I think it was 2006, I was sitting at home and came across a show called Ghost Hunters. I had heard of the show before but never watched it. That Halloween they were doing a live ghost investigation though. I got sucked in. Not so much because I believe in ghosts but more because the show just appealed to me. I think it was the huge amounts of just quiet time. A couple of guys hanging out in a deathly quiet , dark building, asking ghosts questions, chasing shadows. There was a little bit of comedy relief with the younger guys busting on each other. I ended up watching this live broadcast for a good 4 or 5 hours, then began watching the series on a weekly basis. Great stuff. It was simple and mindless entertainment. But of course corporate greed had to set in.
Not long after Sci-Fi became Syfy. Some CEO decided it was time to mix things up. Enter the in-programing commercials. Sci-fi started airing WWE. (I suppose it is not a far stretch from science fiction.) But the Ghost Hunters were still there doing their thing... Two years ago I looked forward to being able to watch the Halloween live broadcast again. But this time it was different. There was actually production being attempted. It had become commercial. I did not really mind though... until I noticed the "Guest host" some silly wrestler from WWE. This tool box ruined the show. Making rude comments to the female staff... talking through the quiet moments... spoiling every thing that appealed to me about the show. But I didn't tune out until one staged conversation between one of the regular cast members and the wrestler happened. The cast member was asking leading questions to get the wrestler to talk about some match coming up. It just annoyed me. I stopped watching.
Last night I turned it on again, now out of a sense of nostalgia more than any thing else. Oh what a waste. Instead of watching the opening sequence of Dawn of the Dead on AMC I got treated to a 10 minute in programing ad for a car company. The cast members were driving towards the destination in a couple of SUVs, and pointing out all the great features... "now I will use the in dash GPS to find our destination." "Now I will use the built in phone feature to call Steve." "Oh and look, while we are driving to the investigation, we can watch DVDs from last years show on the..." The logo for the car prominently adorning every possible surface. Channel changed. Enough. But wait, I wanted to give it another chance! During a commercial of Dawn of the Dead I switched back to Syfy... whats on screen? A huge splash animation of the WWE and some corn rowed wrestler talking about a match... For the love of god.
For the record, Sci-Fi spawned some of my favorite programing of all time. Taken, Battlestar Galactica, and Eureka to name a few... but give me a break! It's not like Ghost Hunters is a shining example of ground breaking programing, but the execs need to figure out where to draw a line... some where... For every hour long episode, we see 35-40 minutes of program and 20-25 minutes of commercials. Now we have to suffer through commercials while we are actually watching the program? It's bad enough sports have sold out. Every team plays in a corporate stadium. Every half time show is brought to you by some credit card company. You can't watch a baseball game without a third of the screen being taken up by ads. Now we have to suffer through it during our TV shows. Heroes, the new Hawaii Five-O, and Ghost Hunters to name a few are all guilty.
I don't know if there is a cure. Corporations will continue to plague our programs with ads and we will continue to watch. And please don't say that we get to watch free stuff. I pay a lot of money for TV and feel that we have the right to demand better. Can't we? But will we still watch? I can say that if enough people change the channel, and let them know that you did, maybe we can make a change. So email them! Here is the email address. firstname.lastname@example.org
Give them a piece of your mind! I will.
EDIT: I want to add to this that the Sci-fi needs to make money. They need to have ads during programing. It is the ad money that allows them to make the shows. I don't begrudge them from making profit. I make some money, a very small amount of money, off ads myself. I can even deal with product placement. But that does not mean that they have to gutt punch us with the cast advertising products during the show. Know what I mean?