A Few Suggestions for the Next TV Season

The long interseasonal TV drought is over. The new shows and returning favorites are rapidly unrolling on network and cable stations.

During the long break, when “reality” shows and PBS fundraising specials were the main alternative to binge-watching shows that I didn’t care about enough to watch in the first place, I had time to think about the previous season and what producers and showrunners might want to work on for the next new season.

Here are a few suggestions.

Given  that the current season of The Bachelorette confirmed what we always thought about the Bachelor and Bachelorette “romantic getaways,” the show’s producers need to add an episode in which the stars rate their suitors on their sexual performance. Criteria might include enthusiasm, generosity, adventurousness, stamina, and versatility. Of course suitors could also rate the Bachelor and Bachelorette.

The characters on The Big Bang Theory make frequent references to Stephen Hawking. He’s like an unseen member of the cast. It would be very cool to get Dr. Hawking to appear on the show. And while they’re at it, the producers should also get Neil deGrasse Tyson to appear. As a result of Dr. Tyson’s appearance, the nerds would discover that black people exist and that some of them are smart enough to be astrophysicists.

During sweeps week, HBO and Showtime could broadcast the “best” scenes of blood-curdling violence, full frontal nudity, and simulated (we hope) sex from their most popular series.

The title sequence of the next new cop (FBI/military police/special investigations unit) show should have the team flushing a copy of the Constitution down the toilet. (That way viewers like me won’t get exercised over their investigation and interrogation methods.)

Just to throw viewers off guard, the next family sitcom should feature a handsome, smart, athletically built, energetic husband and an overweight, doofus, slovenly, couch potato wife. The husband will be devoted and forgiving, while the wife will want nothing more than to  watch “reality” shows while eating chocolates on the couch or to hang out with her girlfriends at the neighborhood bar, where they gather to complain about their husbands.

Out of sheer contrariness, some network should produce a hospital series that flirts with reality. Once a day, South Asian doctors check on patients, who receive most of their care from Filipino and Nigerian nurses. African American orderlies shuttle patients back and forth to annoying and uncomfortable tests. The primary white characters are the good-looking and fashionably attired pharmaceutical reps, who hang around the doctors’ offices, keeping them out of the nurses’ way.

Since re-tooled science fiction movies are the basis for many recent TV shows, here are a few suggestions for new adaptations:

  • The Time Machine. A nerdy professor invents a time-travel machine. Disillusioned with the present age, he travels into the distant future, where he encounters a primitive people rendered incapable of rational thought after years of conservative religion and debauched media. When he tries to elevate their minds, he is branded a witch and chased into the wilderness, where he takes refuge with a group of chimpanzees who have become the guardians of civilization’s storehouse of knowledge.
  • Forbidden Planet. This one combines adventure with high art. The crew of a space ship land on an apparently uninhabited planet and are taken prisoner by a mad scientist who is convinced that he is William Shakespeare. He forces the astronauts to perform his strange and perverse versions of Shakespeare’s plays on a virtual reality set. Each week the crew tries to use their knowledge of the original play to escape to their ship and leave the planet, secretly aided by the scientist’s sexy android assistant. But we wouldn’t have much of a show if they actually escaped, would we?
  • Flash Gordon. This would be based on the most retro of the scifi movies, a collection of serials that played first at movie theaters and later on TV. It would out-Doctor the Doctor. Total Steampunk. Architecture and machines straight out of Metropolis and Modern Times. Archaic upright rockets take-off and land vertically in slow motion. Rayguns and death-ray cannons replace bullet- and missile-firing weapons. Physics is irrelevant: no need for spacesuits or artificial gravity. Of course, there would need to be some character modifications. No longer a blond Adonis, Flash would be of indeterminate ethnicity. The offensive Emperor Ming from the planet Mongo would have to go. Why not Plutocrat, ruler of Pluto. And the raven-haired seductress vs. the golden-haired faithful girlfriend-wannabe is another motif that would have to be replaced, perhaps with the blue- versus green-haired women, neither of whom can be trusted, and who ultimately choose each other over the hero. The show could feature exotic beings from distant planets, misunderstandings that threaten galactic peace, the triumph of reason over violence, and – oh, wait! I think that show has been around for 52 years.

Now, I’m a realist, so I don’t expect any of these suggestions to be taken up by the TV elites. But as strange as the world of television is, you never know.

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