TV Q&A: ‘Beyond the Bible,’ ‘Red Window,’ ‘Top Gear’ and more

August 25, 2013

Q: I read that the success of the miniseries “The Bible” has prompted another miniseries titled “Beyond the Bible.” What a wonderful story to look forward to. Only one small detail was missing: when. Nothing was mentioned as to the date and time of the series. Help!

— Pat, Toledo, Ohio

A: That information was not included because it’s simply unknowable; they have to make the show first.

When a program is announced, it’s a long way from airing. It could be next year or maybe not until the year after. Or it may never happen at all. Many programs have been announced with fanfare and then fall apart. If/when “The Bible” follow-up is scheduled, we will report it.

Q: Can you tell me why ABC, CBS and NBC do not have any good programs on Saturday nights? There are people who watch TV that night.

— Sheila, 71, Layton

A: There are people who watch television that night, and AMC’s decision to shift “Hell on Wheels” to Saturdays in its upcoming season shows that some networks want to take advantage of the broadcast networks’ abdication of programming Saturday prime time. But so far, ABC, CBS and NBC don’t seem interested in offering new shows on Saturday, instead using reruns and sports.

It wasn’t always this way. I can recall watching “The Golden Girls” on Saturday night on NBC in the 1980s, and in the 1970s CBS aired “The Carol Burnett Show” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on Saturday.

That started to change in the late 1990s. ABC made Saturday a movie night in 1999 and NBC followed suit in 2000. CBS held on with original scripted series until the fall of 2004 when it switched to drama reruns on Saturday. The reason for the change is simple: Networks cater to advertisers and advertisers won’t pay premium rates for shows that draw few younger viewers. Saturday programming doesn’t seem to draw younger viewers anymore.

So did the networks give up on Saturday because younger viewers weren’t watching, or did younger viewers stop watching when the networks gave up on Saturday? I think it was a bit of both: Younger viewers were not watching in large numbers, and then when the networks gave up on the night, even fewer younger viewers tuned in then.

Q: I was surprised to learn that “666 Park Avenue” has returned to ABC, after it had been canceled. I am a fan of this show.

Hopefully, ABC will decide to return “Red Widow.”

— Janet, Pittsburgh

A: ABC has been burning off unaired episodes. No new episodes will be produced.

All the “Red Widow” episodes aired, so it won’t be back.

Q: Is the American “Top Gear” coming back?

— Randy via Facebook

A: Yes, it premieres at 9 p.m. EDT Sept. 3.

Q: After coming back for a short time, I’ve again given up on local news out of frustration. Does every newscast have to begin with the weather? I know viewers like to know if it’s going to rain in the next few days, but we don’t need a lesson in meteorology every day! Some stations must have more meteorologists on staff than investigative reporters. What an informed citizenry we would have if the news went into as much detail about politics and government, the sciences, social issues or, God forbid, the arts! I would love to see one local channel give a weather forecast in one minute and devote the remaining time to worthwhile issues.

— Norma, 60, Pittsburgh

A: Many local TV stations have more forecasters than investigative reporters.

Weather is what viewers want and what they will watch. Where once upon a time local news outlets saw themselves as a public service that would give viewers what they need to be “an informed citizenry,” those days are long gone. Now it’s just about the bottom line. So stations program their newscasts based on what will get ratings, and weather is most likely to do that. In some sense, viewers may be getting the newscast they deserve based on their own viewing habits.

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