A ‘real’ TV program loses out to ‘reality shows’

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 17, 2002

The ABC television drama, "Once and Again," took its final bow on Monday evening.

In three seasons, the program had shown the joys and tears of an extended family of two divorced couples.

It was a sometime brutally honest but always life affirming look at modern relationships and teenage struggles.

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The program was bounced around the ABC schedule, and only the dedicated viewer could stay with it.

The loss of this fine drama leaves another hole in the network landscape that will be filled with another stupid "reality show."

Already ABC has announced a psychic show will be show n next Monday in the 9 p.m. time slot. Another great example of fine ABC programing is the embarassing "The Bachelor," where women must compete for the hand of a handsome suitor.

There are still examples of great television on networks. With the loss of "Once and Again," "The West Wing" on NBC offers the best writing, and older programs such as "The Practice" and "NYPD Blue" can still show some depth although they mostly look tired.

I don’t want the only interesting shows to wind up on HBO or cable.

I can’t believe all we are going to have on network TV is

endless versions of "Survivor" and other pseudo-real contests.

Great writing is at a premium in television as well as feature films. The pressure of the box office and the Neilsen ratings makes it hard for a well thought out plot and character development to make it to any size screen.

A few good films and programs slip through, but producers need to learn to value a good script as much as a stunt or visual effect.