Image from Sports Night
An image from the now lost-forever Sports Night, created by Aaron Sorkin, who also wrote such gems as A Few Good Men and is the creator of The West Wing.

Is it just me? Or is it actually that Good Television™ is falling by the wayside?

I was lucky enough to find the entire Sports Night series on DVD at Best Buy a few weeks ago, and since then, I’ve been watching a few episodes here and there. I watched almost the entire first disc of the six-disc collection (eight episodes—four hours of material minus eight minutes per half-hour show for the commercials that aren’t there anymore) in the first sitting. This show was that good. And after having to rip myself away from the television tonight after watching another three excellent episodes that I will probably watch many more times before I get sick of them, I came to the realization that there are very few shows that are on television anymore that do that for me.

I mean, yes, you have your West Wings and your 24s (interestingly enough, neither of which have I ever seen, which makes me feel a little sheepish), and your E.R.s and the like, but other than those powerhouse dramas, what’s really out there?

I’ve seen several shows that I thought had tremendous promise get thrown to the dogs because, I would assume, the public doesn’t seem to have the attention span—or the intelligence—to deal with them. Take, for example, the new Fox series Girls Club, which only lasted TWO episodes. It was an extremely well written show that I thought had a great deal of promise; it was witty, charming, and had an interesting premise (three young women in a law firm learning how to deal with life in the real world). It was a real show with real issues and it showed us a side of life in today’s world that you just plain don’t see in other television shows. It was funny and dramatic at the same time.

Did I mention that this show only lasted for two episodes?

Apparently it didn’t perform well enough in its first two runs, so in the tradition of the truly corporate world, it was tossed by Fox for not having an immediate draw. What was put in its time slot, you may be asking? Well, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that it was replaced by some very intelligent programming: a slew of America’s Funniest… programs.

I’m not sure which I can stand less: the fact that Fox believed that these ridiculously idiotic comedy shows would work better in such a wonderful timeslot (Mondays at 9:00), or that the fact of the matter is that they probably do score better.

What is this world coming to? Is the truly original and deep programming just doomed to lead a short-lived experience where it lasts for one, maybe two seasons and is then replaced for the next thing to come along? Are we really going to continue to get our Friends and Will & Graces with no replacements for our Boston Publics and Buffys? Will we be stuck with a never-ending stream of Bachelor ripoffs and the newest craze in reality programming? It continually worries me that in today’s attention-deficit-disorder world with our declining interest in quality at the expense of convenience and instant gratification, we will be stuck with nothing but drivel.

Something tells me that in the future, there will be nothing but sitcoms and Survivor spinoffs on television. And that, friends, is the day that I cancel my cable subscription.

But maybe by then, all the good shows will be out on DVD, and I can watch them at my own leisure, and all with those eight little minutes of commercials conveniently missing.