Thursday, February 22, 2007

Why isn't "Psych" on a network?

And by "network," I mean the type that broadcasts a signal over the airwaves.

I've often wondered why shows like Battlestar Galactica or Project Runway that achieve high cultural prominence aren't shifted, or re-played, on a broadcast network under the same corporate umbrella (both Bravo and SciFi are owned by NBC Universal, Inc.). If they're important enough to merit an Entertainment Weekly cover, then surely they could be plopped in a network dead zone (say, Saturday at 9:00 and 10:00 p.m.). Hell, they might even boost ratings. And it's not like the cable networks don't re-air episodes gratuitously.

All of this, of course, brings me to Psych, a charming show that blends comedy and drama as well as any show since Gilmore Girls started slipping (we miss you Amy!). Oh, and it has a bit of crime procedural to boot! The show is an hour long - the current length du jour for network programming, and it has less gore, sex, and swearing that much of what is currently airing on network television (i.e., there's not likely to be a problem on the FCC's end). It seems like the type of show that many people would enjoy watching on a Friday night (which is when it airs).

A show they would enjoy - that is if they knew it existed. And there're certainly the indication that they don't. Now, since I'm not a programmer, I don't have demographic evidence to support this assertion. But I do have a mother who loves mysteries. She watched Jessica Fletcher until they kicked the old biddy off the air. She sought out Nero Wolfe on A&E. But she's picky - she likes non-gory mysteries. No L&O or CSI for her. She'd love Psych. But did she know it existed until I mentioned it to her? No way.

I described the show to her. She said it sounded interesting, and asked what channel it was on. I told her USA. She didn't even know if she got that channel. I told her she likely did, but I didn't know the channel. My parents, like many of their generation (baby boomers) are like lemmings. They have cable, but outside of a few specific cable channels (my dad's addicted to A&E and The History Channel), they don't really wander around in the high numbers on the dial. They turn on the tv and head to ABC, NBC, or CBS (my father still thinks the FOX doesn't really count as a network). If you put a show there that is reasonably entertaining and not too graphic, they'd likely watch it.

So that's my question for NBC Universal - now that you've built up some good shows with decent followings, why not try shifting some of them over to NBC? It's not like there's much there anymore except for Heroes, Thursday comedies, L&O, and hours of Deal or No Deal. It seems that this might be a situation in which it would be a good idea to follow the lead of professional sports teams - treat cable like the minor leagues, and once you've got a promising player, try moving them up to the majors. I think Psych is ready to run with the big dogs now.

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