From the November 17, 2006, installment of The Writer's Almanac:
It was on this day in 1968 that NBC executives made one of the worst broadcasting decisions in the history of network television, interrupting their coverage of a football game between the Oakland Raiders and the New York Jets in order to show the scheduled movie, Heidi, about an orphaned girl who goes to live with her grandfather in the Swiss Alps.
There was one minute left in the game and the Jets were leading by 32 to 29, when NBC went to a commercial. No televised football game had ever gone longer than three hours before, and executives weren't sure what to do. Timex had paid a lot of money to advertise during Heidi, and network executives figured the Jets would win the game anyway, so after the commercial break, the movie began.
Football fans were enraged. So many people called to complain that the NBC telephone switchboard in New York City blew 26 fuses. People were right to complain. What they missed was the Raiders coming back to score two touchdowns in the final minute, winning the game 43 to 32.
It was that game, and the storm of protest by fans, that forced TV executives to realize how passionate the audience for football really was. Two years later, networks began showing football on Monday nights as well. And because of that game, the NFL now has a contract with the networks that all football games will be shown until their completion.
Ripping off Scott Freeman...
My favorite TV shows of 2006 in no particular order:
30 Days (FX)
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
The Thick of It (BBC America)
Little Britain (BBC America)
God or the Girl (A&E)
My Name is Earl
The Daily Show
The Colbert Report
Black. White (FX)
Waterloo Road (BBC America)
The Street (BBC America)
Lovespring International (Lifetime)
City of Men (Sundance)
The Hill (Sundance)
Dog Bites Man (Comedy Central)
Here are some of the TV recommendations for this week from The Week magazine:
- American Experience: RFK (Mon, 9 PM, PBS)
- 10 Items or Less (Mon, 11 PM, TBS)
- Independent Lens: Two Square Miles (Tue, 10 PM, PBS)
- Stage Door (Wed, 10 PM, Turner Classic Movies)
- Afterlife (Thu, 9 PM, BBC America)
- Worst Week of My Life (Fri, 9:40 PM, BBC America)
- Ithuteng (Never Stop Learning) (Sun, 6:30 PM, HBO)
- The Sun (Sun, 9 PM, Science Channel)
Last month there was a bit of controversy about the excision of religious content from episodes of Veggie Tales airing on NBC.
From an article of the same title on beliefnet by Chansin Bird of the Religion News Service:
Fans of VeggieTales, those lovable animated singing and talking vegetables, may notice a change in the episodes aired on NBC's Saturday morning cartoon lineup: There's less editing than originally feared.
"The last batch of episodes are airing with very little editing," VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer wrote in an e-mail to Religion News Service. "Not none whatsoever, but very nearly none whatsoever. Much less than earlier episodes."
Originally, NBC had asked for changes in four of 13 episodes -- mostly editing out references to God and the Bible. Vischer said he was not thrilled with the edits, but was happy to have the cartoons on network television.
According to an article on Slate.com, the British TV comedy Saxondale is coming to America in Americanized form. Feeling un-hip because the first time you saw the The Office was on NBC? This is your chance to get ahead of the curve by watching the British Saxondale on BBCAmerica before it gets Americanized for the US TV market. This will be the third British show that I enjoyed that later on came to the US in mutated form. The first two were The Office (of course) and Teachers. I didn't even bother to watch the Americanized Teachers (which lasted only 6 episodes) because I thought the British version was kind of marginal itself. I'm still waiting for the Americanized versions of Shameless, The Catherine Tate Show, The Robinsons, Little Britain, The Kumars at No. 42, Waterloo Road, Love Soup, The Thick of It, The Street...or even seasons 2 through 4 of the British Teachers.
Heroes seems to be all the rage. I gave up on it after a few weeks, but maybe I'll try to get caught up.
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was rumored to be on the verge of cancellation. NBC says that, on the contrary, three additional episodes have been ordered...but it does seem like the show may be not long for this world. (All of this Studio 60 news via Slate's "Today's Blogs" column.)
The Street on BBCAmerica is not exactly a collection of feel good stories...but it's a good show. This week's episode, "Bold Street: Football," was especially so. From the show's web site:
Set in the North of England, The Street lifts the lid on the extraordinary lives of ordinary people. Each emotionally powerful episode concentrates on a different house on the same street, everyone linked to the other by a sense of community and shared experience.
From an AP article of the same title by Sandy Cohen on Yahoo News:
Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber always had a moral message in their long-running "VeggieTales" video series. But now that the vegetable stars have hit network television, they can't speak as freely as they once did, and that's got the Parents Television Council steamed.
The conservative media-watchdog group issued a statement Wednesday blasting NBC, which airs "VeggieTales," for editing out some references to God from the children's animated show...
"VeggieTales" creator Phil Vischer, who was responsible for readying episodes for network broadcast, said he didn't know until just weeks before the shows were to begin airing that non-historical references to God and the Bible would have to be removed.
Had he known how much he'd have to change the show â€” including Bob and Larry's tagline, "Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much," that concludes each episode â€” Vischer said he wouldn't have signed on for the network deal.
"I would have declined partly because I knew a lot of fans would feel like it was a sellout or it was done for money," he said, adding that "there weren't enough shows that could work well without those (religious) references."
I had seen a little bit of one of these episodes as the kids were watching it, and I wondered if the religious content had been toned down. It has.