Friday, November 04, 2005

Those Who Cannot Remember the Past Are Condemned To Watch Repeats of It

Whatever happened to repeats?

Yeah, I know. Networks repeat shows all the time, but they make them sound so much more important.

Of course, networks have always shown encore presentations. And for a while they really meant it. Networks prudently presented encores, keeping in mind that they are "a demand for repetition made by an audience" (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). Pax showed encores of ''Miracle Pets'' in January 2001, but I have a hard time believing that 800,000 households demanded Pax show those eps a second time.

And then there is always the infamous network premiere. Definitely truth in advertising, but still misleading enough to make you pause. It's the first time that network is showing the episode despite the fact that you've already seen it 1000 times on some other crappy channel.

At least HBO and Showtime are completely honest about the whole thing. They don't show repeats or encores. They have multiplay, which lets them focus on cumulative ratings rather than the ratings for a single airing. HBO showed the first three eps of ''Rome'' seven days a week on at least one of their many channels. Showtime presented ''Weeds'' and ''Barberhop'' on alternating nights during the week. Multiplay is the perfect description. They're showing it multiple times whether or not you asked for it.

I think the WB has the most clever names for their repeats.
  • You can watch Easy View on Sundays just before primetime. Many local WB affils repeat shows, often from the past week, from 5-7PM. (The WB was so proud of this idea that they filed for trademark protection.)
  • Right after Easy View, you can watch WB's Beginnings. ''7th Heaven.'' ''Gilmore Girls.'' ''Smallville.'' And now ''Reba.'' Need to fill an hour on your Sunday primetime schedule? Just show repeats of really old eps and tell critics that you're expanding your core audience. They're still repeats.

But that's not all. Who could forget the summer of 1997, when NBC used the phrase "it's new to you!" as a way to get you to watch repeats. What about CBS hiding repeats of their crime dramas under the umbrella, Crimetime Saturday?

I'm surprised nobody uses second chance or extended view. And I'm just waiting for the day when some trendy cable channel decides to show unfresh episodes or a used ep.

Of course these phrases will all be meaningless in a few years when everything will be available on demand.

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