Dave on Demand: How to get networks to make a show you'd watch

Khloé Kardashian appeals to a coveted young audience.
Khloé Kardashian appeals to a coveted young audience. (THEO WARGO / WireImage.com)
Posted: October 15, 2011

I feel your pain, TV nation. It's not enough that every show is seemingly required either to reference the Kardashians or to include a cameo by one of them. No, it appears that every show is also designed to appeal to them, i.e., twentysomethings. (That's both an age and an IQ bracket, as in "Yo, Mikey, you was so drunk last night.")

"Why don't they make any series that cater to me?" you might well ask. I'll tell you why: Because they take you for granted.

We hear over and over again that the only audience TV programmers are interested in is 18-to-49- year-olds (a group usually referred to in ratings stories as "all-important"). I'm here to tell you, the target they're really after is 18 to 34. And if you put the thumbscrews to them, they'll admit it's 18-to-25-year-olds that are the Holy Grail.

Why? Because people that age don't watch TV. Even if you can lead them to water, they're skittish. Research shows that this generation has a maximum attention span of 1 minute 38 seconds.

So TV falls all over itself trying to seduce these holdouts.

The solution is simple. Want shows you might actually enjoy? Stop watching.

Here's what you do: Form a group of like-minded people (the narrower your defining shared interest the better). Then take out a full-page ad in the newspaper identifying yourselves and vowing to unplug the set until there are series that are relevant to you.

In a matter of weeks you'll see stories reporting things like "Nielsen research indicates that CBS is faring poorly among 50-year-old gay ski enthusiasts" or "Grey's Anatomy has seen its ratings plunge among 60-year-old Italian bakers who like to laugh."

Guaranteed, next fall's schedule will include such shows as "Snow Patrol with David Hyde Pierce" and "Paul Sorvino in the hilarious new sitcom Take the Cannoli."

All you have to do is play hard to get, and the networks will beat a path to your door.

Always welcome. I'm of the opinion that there isn't a comedy on TV that couldn't be improved by the addition of Megan Mullally.

She certainly brought her pixie dust to this week's Happy Endings as the Pollyannaish mother of Penny (Casey Wilson).

The episode culminated with an over-the-top mother/daughter duet of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn" at a boat show. Sublime. OK, I might have gone with an Edie Brickell number, but this was still delicious.

Domino effect. As previously pointed out in this column, Sunday is the night with a million things to watch on TV. So I have to DVR The Good Wife. And every week, due to a stupid NFL overrun on CBS, my machine records about 33 minutes of The Amazing Race and 27 of The Good Wife. Exactly enough to get hooked on the episode without ever finding out what happens.

It's totally unnecessary to throw your prime-time schedule into disarray every week, CBS. Look, you're carrying AFC games. That's not really football anyway. So cut the games off at the stroke of 7.

Barring that, deduct the overage time from 60 Minutes. Trust me, no one is keeping track of the show's ticking stopwatch.

You're hired. The contestants on next season's Celebrity Apprentice won't be officially announced for a few months. But the names that have leaked out are intriguing: Clay Aiken, Arsenio Hall, George Takei, rocker Dee Snider, Cheryl Tiegs, Debbie Gibson, Teresa Giudice of Real Housewives, Mafia princess Victoria Gotti, and race driver Marco Andretti.

How pathetic is it when Donald Trump can recruit bigger names than Dancing With the Stars?


Contact staff writer David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552, dhiltbrand@phillynews.com, or @daveondemand_tv on Twitter.

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