Benching the B-team: Eli, Army Wives & Gossip Girl

Sunday, February 15, 2009 Permalink

It happens all of the time in sport. The star players get injured, or have representative duties and it is up to the ‘second string/ to suit up and keep the momentum going. They often do a great job and give some of the stars a run for their money. But, inevitably, the star players come back and the b-team are benched – often with little recognition for having carried the load for a while.

It just isn’t fair. The bench-warmers have kept everything chugging along; have earned their stripes; have given their hearts and souls; but like the bridesmaids – it isn’t about them – they should know their place. They are there to keep the seats warm. Like I said, it isn’t fair.

I am similarly aggrieved at the disdainful treatment of off-season television shows.

Always concerned at what TV Executives might foist upon us unsuspecting viewers during summer (here in Australia), I await the non-ratings viewing offerings with skepticism. Of course, sometimes I am surprised. Last summer, for example, we were treated to the quite watchable Women’s Murder Club. This summer, along with the inevitable re-runs of the tried and true favourites and a myriad of reality shows about police, customs officers, surf lifesavers and doctors, we were offered Eli Stone, Gossip Girl, Army Wives and (very briefly) the Ex-Files –to name but a few.

army wives, eli stone

Like previous years, we were inundated with promotions for these shows and sucked in to their storylines as they appeared, slotted in between cricket, tennis and golf. Like previous years, we came to care about these shows, the characters and then they were unceremoniously ripped from our lives as TV Execs return from their overseas holidays and as critics and pollsters wipe the sleep from their eyes and stretch, awakened from hibernation. Summer has ended. The ratings season has begun.

But what about us? What about Eli and his tumour, the Army Wives and the Gossip Girl? We are left hanging. Sure, we have the old favourites back. And, I do say “Yay!” for new episodes of House, Law & Order SVU etc, but… what about the B-team? What about those the bench-warmers who comforted us through those (stinking hot) summer nights only to disappear when the first string returned?

Those of us who study the TV Guide closely each week (ie. who have no lives) are able to track down some of these shows. Eli Stone (promoted obscenely over summer) now features at 10.30pm on a Tuesday. Women’s Murder Club can be found on a Friday night at 10.30pm. As for Army Wives, it is now on twice a week at the witching hour (favoured only by insomniacs and University students) of 12.30am.

So I say, “What about a duty of care Mr TV Executives (assuming they are – in the majority – all male… after all, how else do they justify the number of motor racing events we are subjected to on weekends)?”

Are they sadists? They dole out the opiate, addict us, and then cut us off cold-turkey without any consideration to the angst it can cause.

I mean, does (the chick whose name I don’t remember) track down the ex-lover who is her true love, as foretold by the clairvoyant in the Ex-Files? Whatever happened to Geena Davis’ Commander and Chief? And, if I couldn’t ‘google’, how would I know if Gossip Girl’s Serena and Blair ever become besties again? I mean, does this torture know no bounds?

Sadly I suspect I have no sway with TV Execs or those who decide what we watch on television and when. I am but one voice, in a sea of others (who apparently watch cricket, A Current Affair and morning television). Instead I will remain comforted by the return of House and Dexter, but I refuse to be sucked in again. Next summer I will boycott television completely. No way am I going to be tempted by TV-offerings of some yet-to-be-completed show, only to be forced into mourning its demise two months later.


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