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WASHINGTON, March 16, 2014 – Imagine the allure of discovering that a loved one who has passed away has rejoined us to walk among the living. This is a possibility we would all likely embrace if only given the chance. Last week’s premiere of “Resurrection” reinforced the appeal of this notion by becoming ABC’s most-watched Sunday drama debut in 7-1/2 years.
This eerie new series entry dominated its 9 p.m. time slot even in the face of formidable competition from the other major broadcast and cable networks. “Resurrection” premiered with almost 14 million viewers despite being opposite the ratings juggernaut otherwise known as “The Walking Dead.” With just under 13 million viewers tuning in to watch the flesh-eating monster hit elsewhere on their dial, the intense, brooding theme of the dead returned to the living owned the night–Sunday night, no less, which is probably fitting in its way.
To even attempt to launch a new drama in one of TV land’s most competitive time slots means ABC has a lot of confidence in “Resurrection.” But by limiting the first season to eight episodes, the network has also adapted to the current trend that has made so many shows successful while limiting network losses should the series tank in its seven remaining episodes.
Last week, while ABC and AMC were cashing in on the dead reborn, FOX network launched its newest and most daring show “Cosmos,” which boasted the largest global launch of a television series ever. The premiere aired on 123 Fox-branded channels in 125 countries and additionally on 90 NatGeo channels in over 170 countries and 45 languages.
Current science rock star Neil deGrasse Tyson is at the forefront of the current national debate that pits science against religious doctrine, making him a natural to host “Cosmos.” His hard science approach to the origin of life is in direct conflict with the religious right, a fact that makes the existence of the show a phenomenon all by itself. In so doing, however, he does remain faithful to the similar belief system of the creator of the original 1970s “Cosmos” series, the late Carl Sagan.
Whether or not “Cosmos” changes anyone’s core beliefs remains to be seen. But the fact that an actual science-themed show is airing on a major network during primetime scheduling is reason enough to celebrate. It means one less hour will be filled with reality programming, offering a glimmer of hope for a more intelligent TV lineup in the future.
For those who do enjoy contrived nonsense, tonight’s basic cable smorgasbord of reality TV offers up everything from spoiled housewives to naked survival. Big lips, bare rumps, fish tales and a man with five wives are just a few of the dubious features of tonight’s reality programming. This cold fact alone makes us question the existence of intelligent life on this planet, at least in the vast, pixellated universe of today’s cable TV.
Maybe we can convince Neil deGrasse Tyson to explore this current fascination with reality TV on a future episode of “Cosmos.” On the other hand, may be we don’t want to know the answer to this question.