TV shows with ‘legs’
Most TV shows stay on the tube for only a season or two, but a few productions manage to beat the odds, develop “legs,” and stay on the air—“for good.”
On the local TV scene, those long-running exceptions to the rule are represented by “Eat Bulaga,” which has been telecasting daily for decades. It has become such an institution that it’s even been emulated elsewhere in Asia (without the skimpily clad girls).
On US TV, the prime examples of TV programs that appear to be destined to last “forever” include “Saturday Night Live” and “60 Minutes.” What elements do they share that “explain” why they have prospered long term, even as many other productions have stumbled and fallen?
“Saturday Night Live (SNL)” is the granddaddy of them all, but remains fresh, vibrant and funny because it’s never taken its success for granted.
Each and every Saturday, it fields spoofs and comedic salvos that satirize current topics, newsmakers and “trending” developments.
Other comedy shows also do this, so why is SNL viewed more than they are? Because it specializes in biting satire, comedy that doesn’t play it safe and chummy, but aims for the jugular with the honesty and vitality of the jokes it dishes out.
Thus, it gets more deeply to the truthful core of the human frailties it derides—and viewers attain jolting comedic insights even as they’re laughing their heads off!
As for “60 Minutes,” the venerable docu-magazine program is more laid-back in style and its segment host-producers are much older than the zanies who cavort on SNL. But, viewers appreciate the depth and “voice of experience” wisdom that they dispense, so they have connected with generations of viewers, old and young alike.
“60 Minutes” has also trained many broadcast journalists to think way beyond the nightly newscast and look for longer-term concerns and issues that viewers want to understand more comprehensively.
This takes a lot of work on its host-producers’ part—sometimes even months of focused scrutiny for a feature that lasts only 10 minutes on the tube.
But all that time and effort are worth it and viewers’ deep appreciation is attested to by the fact that the “old” show keeps beating the odds and staying “alive” and even thriving on TV.
Back to SNL: The “forever young” production has similarly trained generations of TV talents—this time, “gonzo” comedians who have become the biggest stars on TV and in the movies: Bill Murray, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy all became bankable comedy stars in their own right.
And the long-running comedy hit that absolutely refuses to rest on its laurels continues to produce new luminaries each season, so it keeps the US TV-film comedy scene abundantly supplied with fresh, young talents, who are fully prepared for stardom the minute their big break comes.
Thus does SNL show that, to last “forever,” a hit TV program must behave like it will be “killed” at the end of the season, unless it keeps proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that its antic, not antique, heart still vigorously pulses with vital and dynamic fun and frolic.
And that great comics and comedy shows never die, they just keep hitting those hilarious punchlines right up to the final fade!