Wednesday, March 10, 2004
History teaches us that people who work in a mature broadcast medium often treat their upstart competition with derision and contempt. The urbane radio personality Fred Allen became a walking compendium of wisecracks and put-downs about the banality of television, until the explosive popularity of the "boob tube" put him out of work. During the early 1950s, Hollywood studios tried to lure viewers away from their TV sets with wide-screen spectaculars while at the same time refusing to sell TV networks any major studio product. Starved of movies and stars, television created a "golden age" of intelligent dramas (some of which, ironically, went on to become great movies, including "12 Angry Men" and "The Days of Wine and Roses"). Television eventually "won," and the studios wisely sold them movies and got into the lucrative television production business.
Now television is the mature medium. For the past decade or so, the networks have all but ignored the burgeoning video game industry, only to lose a huge share of its coveted young audience to GameBoys and PlayStations. The new CGI (computer-generated imagery) animation sitcom "Game Over" (7 p.m., UPN) is hardly revolutionary, but it may mark a milestone of sorts. At least the folks at the lowly UPN network are hip enough to admit that, at any given moment, more kids are playing "The Sims" than watching any of their prime-time shows.
Tonight's other highlights
- Scheduled on "60 Minutes II" (7 p.m., CBS): gay marriage; Strom Thurmond's long-hidden daughter.
- The competing teams focus their business acumen on the mercurial art world, with decidedly mixed results, on "The Apprentice" (7 p.m., NBC).
- The four Wild Card winners are announced on "American Idol" (7:30 p.m., Fox).
- A regular on "The Help," David Faustino guest stars on "The Mullets" (7:30 p.m., UPN). It says something when you show up on the two worst series in primetime (at least until the return of "Rock Me Baby," that is).
- On back-to-back episodes of "Law & Order" (NBC), a concert fire kills 23 rock fans (8 p.m.), a self-promoting journalist endangers the life of soldiers in Iraq (9 p.m.).
- A DJ "grows" hair while a dowdy librarian lets hers down on "Extreme Makeover" (8 p.m., ABC).
- Scheduled on "48 Hours Investigates" (9 p.m., CBS): An actress' role hits very close to home.
- Ghouls go wild on "Kingdom Hospital" (9 p.m., ABC).
Patricia Heaton and Kate Bosworth appear on "Late Show with David Letterman" (10:35 p.m., CBS) ... Jay Leno welcomes Elijah Wood on "The Tonight Show" (10:35 p.m., NBC).