The most popular show on cable television is Live PD. The concept of the show is similar to sports roundup-type shows like “Around the NFL” or whatever, where there are a few guys in a studio with a bunch of monitors covering all the games that day and they go to the action when something exciting is happening, and in between the feeds the guys comment on the games or the players and they try to be interesting and funny, with varying degrees of success.
It sounds like Live PD is taking a lot of those slow-motion car chases that we see almost daily in Southern California, as popularized by OJ and AC all those years ago, and putting them together in one show and going back and forth to cover the best action. So when one slow-motion chase gets too slow, we move over to the other one, where they are doing the famous “pit maneuver,” or maybe playing a loop of some idiot kicking at the suspect’s vehicle and throwing a can of Red Bull at the rear window, or something of that ilk. Only on this show, instead of just slow motion chases, you can see cops going on a call and risking life and limb running after some drug-crazed guy who jumps out of a second story window trying to escape, and so forth.
The reason I know this is the number one show on cable TV is they tell you this on the promo for the show. They can’t say that if it’s not true, can they? It can’t be the number one show for adults 27-68 with active peptic ulcers, that would be false advertising, right? But given the world we live in these days, it’s not surprising that this is what is attracting viewers. We all (well, not me) love to see those police body-cam videos, or cell phone videos of police doing bad things, or people doing bad things, or driving badly, or attempting an ill-advised stunt that could end in grievous injury that will have millions of views if successful, and tens of millions of views if it isn’t. The more pain the better.
So if Live PD is the most watched show on cable, how about these shows:
LIVE HAIR: the show will be hosted by three women who clearly have had a lot of work done, and an African-American gay man who is the funniest guy in the universe. In studio will be live feeds from hair salons all over the world, and we go from hairstyle to hairstyle with full commentary. Of course, the main goal of the producers is to find the biggest hair-don’ts on the planet, outrageous mistakes in cut or color that the panel can spend a half hour making fun of. At the end of the show, the worst cut gets the coveted “Golden Mullet” award.
LIVE SHRINK: this show is hosted by a married couple who are both psychotherapists and write self-help books together. On the monitors are live feeds from therapist’s offices all over the land. Of course, the patients or clients have signed away their right to privacy for a shot at being on TV, even if it is only cable. The producer aims to find the most embarrassing moments, revealing weird sexual thoughts or habits, or odd phobias and neuroses. The hosts then second-guess the other therapists but they never agree on anything so, to the audience’s apparent delight, they always end up fighting until one of them bursts into tears and walks off the set. This happens weekly.
LIVE DOUGH: This one is my personal favorite. There is no host or panel. The video feeds are from the kitchens of donut shops country-wide. The camera shows the dedicated donut-making professionals mixing dough, cutting the dough, kneading, filling, baking, whatever the hell they do to those donuts, we see it, with long, lingering close up shots of crullers, cream-filled, iced, whatever, and the occasional bear claw. All you need is a cup of coffee and an easy chair and you’re in cable TV heaven.
LIVE DEAD: this show isn’t for everyone. It takes some time to appreciate. It’s either very peaceful, or very boring, it’s hard to say which. The video feeds are live from cemeteries. That’s it. Lots and lots of cemeteries. Sometimes someone or other passes through and tidies up a gravestone or leaves some flowers for a dead relative or what not, but not often. On a side-note, I was in a cemetery last week and saw a solar-powered Virgin Mary that someone had put on a loved one’s monument. A solar-powered Virgin Mary. It’s a real thing. Presumably, the solar-powered religious icon people would find this show a perfect venue for advertisements, and people who buy those kinds of things would probably love this show! But it’s not for me.
LIVE DOG: I didn’t plan this blog today, but thinking about what kinds of shows could successfully use this same formula, this one seems a natural. In fact, this could be even bigger than Live PD. Live feeds from doggie day care and rescue centers, and the hosts are, well it could be anyone. We could have celebrities who like dogs, or even a few kids, or even other dogs(!), and the feed goes around to find the cutest thing we can see, like puppies playing football with a rolled up sock. This is cable TV gold. Need to call my agent.
I would continue but I’ve already given away too many great show ideas. If you want to hear more of my big ideas, read my novel, Smoking in Bed. It’s full of em’. I’m sure there’s a reality show in there someplace.