The good news is, it's almost over.
Due in large part to a writers' strike at the beginning and a sheer economic collapse at the end, 2008 will be remembered by many in the TV business about as fondly as your last colonoscopy.
And we get it: Things are pretty depressing right now. Just paging through all the melancholy news in our magazine for the last couple of months, it makes me want to channel one of my heroes, the great Irwin M. Fletcher, and ask the doctor if he is indeed “using the whole fist.”
From shows bombing to companies tanking to way too many people losing their jobs, there has seemingly been nothing but bad news of late. So for one week, we're simply not going to be a party to it. For our last issue in print of 2008, we're boycotting bad news. Seriously. Dodging it like an Iraqi shoe was sailing at our heads.
Page through the book this week (click here for the full issue online), and you won't see anything about job losses or bankruptcies or business plans becoming as obsolete as my wardrobe. We could all use the break. Instead, we are going to focus on the many great achievements of 2008, and there were plenty.
Flip to page 6 and read David Bianculli's take on the best of the year in television, and you will realize just how many great moments there were. From Michael Phelps' heroics to (politics aside) a magical night in Grant Park, scripted entertainment could've taken a back seat this year.
But fortunately it didn't. While treasures like Mad Men may not get huge ratings, they continue to show just how good the medium of television can be.
Now, there are plenty of big shows that do get big audiences, and it was a relief to see that with a great show like CBS's The Mentalist, the networks can still launch rookies that work big.
Speaking of big launches, that is what Lorne Michaels will be pulling for when Jimmy Fallon's new show rolls out. Michaels chats this week with B&C's Claire Atkinson about a crazy year that saw Saturday Night Live return from relative obscurity, 30 Rock win more awards despite being relatively unwatched, and Conan's replacement being prepped.
And from a viewership standpoint, right now the king of comedy is Chuck Lorre, who has CBS' Two and Half Men and The Big Bang Theory both humming on broadcast television. He sat down for a Mel's Diner chat with our Melissa Grego and even has a plan for Jon Stewart that doesn't involve David Letterman's chair.
And while some people would have a hard time finding much good to say about the state of the station business, we have found three people who are bucking the odds, and they are our three local-station General Managers of the Year. Starting on page 15, we recognize three of the best who are not just surviving, but thriving through leadership and innovation in these challenging times.
If you are a news junkie, as we all are, is there anyone you would have wanted to trade jobs with more than NBC News chief Steve Capus? For better or worse, Capus had one of the most eventful jobs of the year. In an interview with B&C's Marisa Guthrie, Capus looks back on a truly memorable 2008, one that will be remembered most for the tragic loss of a true giant in Tim Russert.
But in a wild election year, there was plenty else going on at NBC News—from the highs of the continuing emergence of MSNBC as a strong brand to the lows of the idiocy of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews on NBC proper before they were finally (and mercifully) benched as hosts.
As you can see, there is plenty to celebrate about our business in 2008. So if you want the latest updates on layoffs and cutbacks, go ahead and log on to our Website at www.broadcastingcable.com for the latest news, good or bad.
But if you want to bury your head in the sand and just enjoy a magazine full of good news (read: denial) for a change, you've come to the right place. I think we could all use it.
A happy and healthy New Year to you and yours…
The television industry's top news stories, analysis and blogs of the day.