New Year’s Resolutions for TV

New Year’s resolutions start with better TV

Bill Goodykoontz
The Arizona Republic
Jan 03 2000 10:33:31

It’s the same thing every year – New Year’s rolls around and you resolve to hit the gym more often, a resolution you break before you’ve finished the candy left in your stocking.

Let’s be realistic this year, shall we?

You know you’re going to watch television – hey, it beats whiling away your life on the Stairmaster – so why not aim your resolutions your reliable electronic friend’s way?

Actually, you don’t even have to. To save you all that trouble, I’ve come up with TV resolutions for everyone – for viewers, for network bigwigs and nor myself. So sit back, relax and bask in the cool glow of your set. If you don’t deserve it, who does?


All couch potatoes hereby resolve to:

Give good shows, such as Action, an honest chance.

Stop avoiding the great Buffy the Vampire Slayer because it sounds like a teen show with a stupid name. It is, but in the best possible way.

If ABC cancels the currently homeless Sports Night, write letters, make phone calls and threaten a boycott of the network. (If you’d watched it in the first place, we wouldn’t be in this fix.)

Swear off mindless garbage such as When Digestive Systems Attack. There is plenty of mindless entertainment out there already on the wrestling shows and the local news.

Pat selves on back for taking to Now and Again and The West Wing.

Punish selves for watching anything – anything – NBC slaps on its schedule between Frasier and ER.

Learn to use the VCR. Assuming that network executives will continue to break resolutions, such as pitting such good shows as Roswell and The West Wing against one another (see below), being able to watch one and tape another has become essential. (And if you can’t do it yourself, get your kid to.) [Liz notes: Hey, I do one better… I watch AND tape Roswell while taping The West Wing! :)]

Continue to ignore TV critics who tell you to watch Action and ignore Judging Amy. It’s your time; waste it any way you like.


All network honchos hereby resolve to:

Remember that it’s color TV. This fall’s new shows weren’t even Black and White. Just White. The ruckus that the NAACP rightfully raised will correct that in the near future; let’s hope improvements in prime-time racial and ethnic diversity last longer than that.

Stop acting like a lemming and jump off the game-show bandwagon before it hurtles over the edge of a cliff. Sure, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire was fun. Once. But the ugly Greed is what the future of network television looks like, and it’s a frightening sight. A little Regis goes a long way. But Chuck Woolery? And now Maury Povich as the host of a resurrected Twenty-One? Let’s end this before we see Rosie O’Donnell hosting a musical version of Beat the Clock.

Program with a heart. Why schedule one great show (The West Wing) against another (Roswell) on competing networks when there is so much schlock floating around out there?

Program with a brain. ABC’s bone-headed handling of NYPD Blue – delaying its season premiere until after the Super Bowl because it feared losing viewers of the wretched Once and Again – managed to make everyone involved look bad.

Program with an ID. The big money was on WB-style teen shows breaking out like acne in gym class this season. And what happened? New shows with grown-ups, such as Judging Amy and Once and Again, scored big, while returning ones, such as Providence, continued to shine. Imagine the viewer response if they were actually any good.

Come up with at least the occasional original idea. Three movies about Jesus is one thing – compelling character and all that – but two on The Partridge Family? Can competing Courtship of Eddie’s Father projects be far behind?

Ease up on the trigger finger. Sure, Harsh Realm may not have been the best show ever, but it was hardly the worst. (See Stark Raving Mad.) Three episodes? Producer Chris Carter didn’t fall on his face with this one – he wasn’t given time to.

(For PBS only) Cease putting thoughtful, well-made programs, such as New York: A Documentary Film, on during the sweeps ratings period. Despite the high quality, during sweeps, you couldn’t get anyone to watch The American Experience: Nude Photos of Eleanor Roosevelt. Or any other time, for that matter.


Just one: To watch more TV.

You may hear otherwise, but there is plenty of good – great, even – television out there. No, television’s not a baby-sitter. Nor is it an acceptable substitute for reading the occasional book. But people who utter the hoary old complaint – there’s nothing good on TV anymore – simply aren’t watching.

Proof? Spend some time with new gems, such as The West Wing, Now and Again and Freaks and Geeks. Enjoy old favorites, such as The X-Files, the revamped ER and Law & Order. Get HBO and marvel at The Sopranos. Or just sit back and laugh out loud as The Simpsons gets better and better.

Oh, OK, one more resolution: Get to the gym more often.