I wonder how many TV buffs out there have done something like this? One of the reasons it appealed to me is that I did something very similar, back around 1990 or so. I even wrote a schedule down, though I didn't go to the detail that Kevyn did in his piece. I don't know where it is now, but there are still some shows that I remember from HBN, which of course stood for "Hadley Broadcasting Network." (Ted Turner had nothing on me.)
The show I was most proud of was Sunday night's The Phil Collins Show. It was modeled on the then-successful Tracey Ullman Show on Fox, a half-hour variety show. Phil Collins was nearing the end of his productive music career at that point, sounding more and more like a white Lionel Richie.* He'd settled into the bland last years of both his Genesis and solo careers, and it seemed to me to be a good time to transition into television. My favorite episode idea: "This week's guest star is Eric Clapton. In a skit, an exasperated man (Eric) can't rid himself of his annoying neighbor (Phil). I think Collins could have extended his career by years with this show.
*No offense to Lionel; I use that example specifically because Phil Collins once said, in a Playboy interview, that he didn't want to wind up sounding "like a white Lionel Richie." Of course, I only read the interview.
Another show I thought would work well was the late-night entry, The Bobby Rivers Show. Bobby Rivers was a hot property at the time, with a real-life talk show on VH1, and I thought he would have made a terrific alternative to Leno and Letterman. I'd imagine it would be something like the Graham Norton Show on BBC America.
I recall that my morning show, U.S.A.M., was three hours, long before Today went the same route. It would have been mostly hard news, closer to the Today of Frank McGee. I brought back What's My Line?, with the same genteel qualities that the original had - it was hosted by James Lipton, and Charles Grodin was one of the regular panelists. I had a half-hour prime-time news program every night at 7pm (CT), and at 10:30, before Bobby Rivers, there was a national sports report. Because I could, I brought back Voice of Firestone at 9:30pm Mondays, and being the ecumenical person I am, Wednesday night I had a half-hour show called The Pope Speaks, which would have been something like the old Bishop Sheen show.
he'd already starred in a movie by the same name.
Sleazy though this idea might be, the point of it was actually serious - to challenge the audience. Here was a protagonist (Marvin) with whom the audience was clearly meant to identify. The people he hunted down were child abusers, rapists, corrupt public officials, and the like. You sympathized with their victims, and understood that Marvin was a last resort when all legal options had failed. But you had to ask yourself this question: am I really comfortable rooting for a man who, in essense, is a well-paid murderer? Does the end justify the means? I still think this show would be extremely successful, particularly since anti-heroes have become more fashionable
And then there was a ridiculous show, I suppose my version of Walt Disney, called TV Cat Theatre, which was devoted to programs about cats - not just documentaries or nature programs, but dramas and comedies casting cats in the place of humans. For example, I had an absurd idea for a Hawthornesque costume drama called "Snow White and the House of the Seven Cats." I probably shouldn't go into this any further if I want to have any credibility with my readers, but I will suggest that I certainly anticipated the advent of cat videos, didn't I? TV Cat Theatre probably would have been the highest-rated show on the network.
There were other programs, enough to fill out a schedule, but most of them escape me now. I had a couple of sitcoms, and a drama series or three including a lawyer show, and a reasonably heavy rotation of sports specials; maybe I'd brought back Friday Night Fights. I do know that if I were putting a network together today, I'd commission something from David Lynch, and I'd introduce a regular news/documentary series that's more entertaining than the old-time documentaries, but not as trashy as today's tabloid newsmagazine shows. And I'd make sure to have room for this drama.
But I fear in all of this I'm drawing attention to myself, when what I really wanted to do was point you Kevyn's way. Go and check him out, and give him some hits. I think this "what-if" programming is something many of us have done, and if you've got some ideas for TV series you'd like to see, whether somewhat realistic or far out there, I'd like to hear about them. Maybe we can put together something better than what we're getting now.