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Fall TV premieres have changed: What a yawn

September 25, 2010

Not to sound like a crotchety old woman, but I kind of miss the days when television's fall season was a huge deal.

Back in the days of yore, before home recording from television was possible, my friends and I practically memorized the TV Guide so we were ready to catch our favorite programs as they returned from a long summer of reruns.

Of course, those reruns were sometimes of value in themselves because if you missed a program during its original airing, tough on you. No home recording possibilities existed and there were definitely no online chances to watch an episode.

The only thing "online" back then were our new school clothes, freshened by the crisp autumn breezes.

Television viewing was much more an event way back then. If you weren't in front of your set to catch a program, you weren't in the loop when everyone else was talking about it at school the next day.

It's so much different now. Not only can you record the show to watch it when it suits your schedule, there are so many teasers and spoilers out there, keeping the element of surprise alive just doesn't happen too often.

Can you imagine the last episode of "The Fugitive" in today's world? Millions tuned in back in 1967 to find out what would happen to Dr. Richard Kimble and "the one-armed man." My Mom even let my younger cousin Kathleen, who was living with us at the time, stay up WAY past her bedtime so she could watch along with the rest of the country.

Nowadays, it would be a battle to keep the denouement under wraps. And pity the fool on the west coast who might get on the Internet after the show aired on back east. No hiding the buzz that it would generate on the Web.

Even though I am an admitted television fanatic, my viewing habits certainly have changed over the years. As of this writing, I have yet to watch a full episode of any show making its debut this autumn.

The only returning series of which I watched the premiere episode for 2010-11 is "Criminal Minds." Ironically, it was the first first-run episode I ever watched of that program. Its five previous seasons are something I have caught sporadically over the last month or two.

Now it's got me hooked. But not so much that I would stay home to be sure to catch an episode.

Not like the old days of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" or my other favorites.

One thing has really bugged me this summer/fall as shows were being touted with advertisements and that's the new Jim Belushi-Jerry O'Connell show that's being called "The Defenders."

This incarnation is about two slick Vegas lawyers who apparently aren't above belching and leering as part of their courtroom antics. While I have not watched the show yet, it bugs me because of the other show called "The Defenders."

The original show aired in the 1960s and was one of two shows my Mother would watch, the other being "The Dick Van Dyke Show." In its original version, "The Defenders" starred E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed and tackled such issues as civil rights, mercy killings and conscientious objectors. It was landmark television and was hailed as one of the first TV shows with a social conscience.

The new show with that name appears to be more about hook-ups, cleavage and gambling with the protagonists being slobs and/or lechers.

Couldn't the producers have chosen another name?

Perhaps I will force myself to watch the Belushi version once before condemning it. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised.

But somehow, I don't think it will be "must-see" TV for me.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253. Her e-mail address is



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