Monday, March 12, 2012

Who IS watching TV

The Academy Awards this year had better ratings than the last few years and, to my mind, a better show with Billy Crystal. Of course I'm in that over 50 crowd that the critics and pundits attack. Well over 50 too. 

They complained about the show and that the age group is almost all white and men. And there wasn't much for the younger people. And they were right.

Because most young people aren't watching TV, at least not on the traditional TV screen in the living room. But there's another reason; they have a lot of other stuff to do.

Like texting. And going to school and don't identify with silent movies or war movies or movies about Margaret Thatcher. They like werewolves and vampires and zombies and strangely enough they like Ghostkeeper.

Go Figure.

The networks aren't happy because they can't figure out what kids want to see. By kids I mean the 18-24, the ones just coming out of school or college and are ready to buy everything they can see.

But they aren't really doing that; they buy clothes and iPads and tunes but mostly with money from their parents or grandparents. A lot of them stay at home. In Florida the state raised the age for health care for kids living at home.

To the age of 30. 

Yep, apparently more than a few kids are staying at home with their parents until 30 and maybe even more. There's a lot of reasons; maybe it costs too much to find a place to live, maybe they like staying at home. Or maybe their parents want to keep them.

There's a course ad I saw in the LA Times for parents who need help to detach themselves from their adult children. Really. 

Back to TV, where networks pray for young audiences, strangely enough, the network with the lowest ratings is CW, formerly the Warner channel. Those are shows featuring that demographic, 18 to 24. They're lucky to get a million viewers.

NCIS, another popular show with older people gets over 25 million on a good week. And of course that singing show gets about the same this season. And those are watched by mostly older people. 

Why do you think the singers sing old hits, even from the 1960's?

They want the kids and the boomers. And it works.

But still they don't get all the kids and that bugs the hell out of them.  Then there's a show like Harry's Law, about a 60 year old woman who is fired from her law firm and starts another.

Of course, she has the obligatory assortment of beautiful men and women around her. I honestly think those hunks and hunkettes could trade places on any of the dramas and nobody would notice. 

Then there's the shows; bawdy sitcoms like 2 Broke Girls and that other 2 show. And lots of lawyer dramas and hospital dramas and cop/procedural shows. Maybe too many. But all of those shows I mentioned (except the sitcoms) have life and death situations.

Life and death always makes for better stories but there were some episodic shows that managed to defy the odds; shows like Northern Exposure, 30-Something, The Wonder Years, even Doggy Howser which dealt with interesting characters.

But those are gone... for now anyways.

And there's a whole other crowd who like horror and supernatural thrillers. These are the 18-24 group and they are looking for every film of that genre that they can find. And they don't necessarily want to see new movies.

Ghostkeeper is a good example. It had it's little run way back in 1981 to about 1986 and disappeared. For the most part, it was forgotten. Then some of those kids in Germany discovered an old VHS cassette in horrible condition and started circulating it.

Then I got a call from a horror magazine writer in England wanting to interview me. And then a small but faithful group of kids found it in Toronto and asked me to go introduce it. If you've been with me a long time, I won't bother to explain more but...

... because of them, I'm going to re-release Ghostkeeper in the next few weeks.

All because of the 18-24's.

I like them. I really like them.

And it's not only my "forgotten" film, I've heard from other writers and directors who have experienced the same thing. My friend Paul Lynch has a handful of them, including the original Prom Night (which has it's own Facebook) and Humungus (don't ask).

So while the big networks wallow in their quest to grab and hold the 18-24's, I'm satisfied with my little piece of the pie.