It’s official. Neither NBC, ABC, nor CBS is planning to air any coverage of the Republican National Convention opening night on Monday, when Ann Romney will be speaking. Instead?
As Politico noted, ABC and CBS are airing reruns, of “Castle” and “Hawaii Five-0” respectively.
Now, I love “Castle” as much as the next gal, assuming the next gal has a healthy fondness for any Nathan Fillion project. But I’ve already seen this one. This is the one where things get tense with Beckett and then some other things happen and then everything gets resolved using insights gleaned from novels.
“Hawaii Five-0” reruns? The whole show is a rerun. This is the one where “To convince the team that his theory [about a serial killer] is correct, Max reveals some surprising information about his childhood,” according to TV Guide.)
Which, actually, to be honest, sounds somewhat riveting. And I can tell you in advance how the Ann Romney speech will go. Ann will say something. Everyone will clap. Ann will say something else. Everyone will clap some more. This will go on until everyone agrees they have had enough, then she will speak for eight more minutes, and then everybody will all go home.
But it is still important! Please tell me it’s important, ABC! My sense of self is at stake here. I am one of the few writers alive today not engaged in TV recapping, which I un-ironically hold is where most of the best writing is. I read a recap of “Breaking Bad” the other day and was reduced to tears for several hours, until it occurred to me that I had not seen that episode, nor, in fact, any episode leading up to it.
The argument of the networks seems to be that this is only parity — the Democratic National Convention is just three nights long, and a fourth night would be, er, a half-hour of extra publicity for the GOP, and Up With That We Cannot Put. “Why,” the network brass shouts, “if people were allowed to hear Ann Romney speak for any length of time at all, especially in prime-time, it would ALL be OVER! We might as well forget the next 60-odd days. America would rise up as one and go surging off to the polls with whatever ID was necessary!”
I understand, too, the argument that if you felt compelled to air every minute of every convention, no matter how many days, in the interest of — I don’t know — covering a big news story that was happening, we would wind up in some sort of horrible nuclear standoff.
“NBC is only airing 162 days of the 167-day Democratic National Convention?” we would splutter, years from now. “But they are airing all 154 days of the RNC! And the DNC guests include six robots with strong feelings about social issues!” (I have no idea what the future will look like.)
I understand that cable TV is nothing but choices. But cable is different. People who want to watch the convention on cable already know what they think about it.
Still, to have two major networks declare that Ann Romney is not only not worth airing but not worth replacing with original programming, gives me pause.
The networks have to remain strong in the increasingly dubious insistence that the conventions matter and make for riveting network television. But at the rate they’re slipping, the 2024 DNC convention with the socially active robots will only air on cable. And I thought the entire broadcast strategy these days was to pretend that cable was not what everyone was watching.
Once you start to let us believe that we have some choice in the matter, we’re done for.