What Will Fill The TV Void Left By The Olympics?
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. Over the last couple of weeks, the Olympics dominated on TV. NBC says it was the most watched event in television history with more than 219 million people tuning in. But, now that the Olympics are over, what is going to fill that gaping void on our screens?
BLOCK: Well, here's a guy who watches TV for a living, Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times. Welcome back, Eric.
ERIC DEGGANS: Thanks for having me.
BLOCK: So I hear you are easing us into this post-Olympic world with a sports-based reality show, "Hard Knocks" on HBO, which is focusing on the Miami Dolphins this year. We have a clip, actually. It's a scene of the coach cutting a rookie, Derek Dennis.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "HARD KNOCKS")
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Sometimes, things beyond your control, you know, can impact your whole career. Hopefully, you'll have other opportunities. Just, at this present time, this is not going to work right here, right now, so...
DEREK DENNIS: Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All right?
DENNIS: I appreciate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: All right, Derek.
DENNIS: Thanks a lot.
DEGGANS: Now, this clip just sort of highlights what I love about the show, which is that the team opens itself up to 24/7 coverage by cameras. We see everything happen. In this case, we saw this hopeful guy show up. You know, he thought he was going to make an impression and, through no fault of his own, they recruited somebody who was more experienced for his position. He gets cut.
Now, tonight, we're going to see the results of Chad Johnson's fall from grace. A well-known wide receiver arrested for domestic violence over the weekend. Their cameras have been documenting the team this whole time and he was cut from the team. It's just an amazing fly on the wall show that I love watching and it's great right after the Olympics.
CORNISH: Now, that's on HBO. What's the other stuff on pay cable?
DEGGANS: Well, we also have Starz trying to make its mark now. They've got this wonderful show called "Boss" starring Kelsey Grammer as the mayor of Chicago. And he is powerful, high-powered and we get to see a guy who's been funny on television for many, many years on "Frazier" and "Cheers" be very dramatic and very good at it.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "BOSS")
KELSEY GRAMMER: The keys to the kingdom. I kept them in your hands for what? Love, sex, respect? For your loyalty.
CORNISH: What's the deal with summer TV? I mean, cable networks - it seems like there's a whole culture of summer programming. And is this where they - their kind of spot to birth a hit?
DEGGANS: Certainly, in the past, the summer was where cable shined because the networks have to go into reruns. Their economic model prevents them from running original programming during the summer, but in the summer is where USA Network has some of its biggest shows, shows like "Burn Notice" and "Suits." "The Closer" wrapped up its run on TNT this summer. "Shark Week" from Discovery Channel is also this week, so there's some great stuff on cable because the networks are becoming more the province of reruns and reality TV and, as we saw, the Olympics.
CORNISH: It's interesting about launching programs in the summer. I mean, I've seen a couple comedy shows launched this summer. Right?
DEGGANS: Yeah. It seems like FX is trying to reinvent itself in late night. Thursdays at 11:00, first they had a show with Russell Brand and now they have a show with this comic from San Francisco, W. Kamau Bell.
CORNISH: Oh, it's interesting and it seems like it has a political bench. We have a clip.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "TOTALLY BIASED")
W. KAMAU BELL: Mitt Romney - that's going to be hard on a lot of Americans. It's going to be a Mormon versus a black guy. For most of America, that's like "Alien" versus "Predator." You know what I'm saying?
CORNISH: Eric, who's the audience for this?
DEGGANS: That's the interesting question because Kamau Bell caught the eye of Chris Rock with a show where he promised to solve racism in an hour. So he's got six half hours now to make an impression and his first show last week talked about the Stop and Frisk Policy in New York. He suggested that maybe people - minorities who are stopped and frisked get a free soda at the end of it so they can call it Pop and Frisk.
CORNISH: OK. Yeah.
DEGGANS: And stuff like that. So, in a way, he's targeting the young, white male demographic that watches "The Daily Show" at 11:00, but he's also speaking to the issues in a way that maybe those shows don't because he's coming at it from a different cultural perspective.
CORNISH: Eric, thanks so much.
DEGGANS: All right. Thank you.
CORNISH: Eric Deggans is TV and media critic at the Tampa Bay Times.