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Gingersnap
07-30-2010, 04:49 PM
TASTE JULY 30, 2010

USA's Magic Formula For Making Hits

How the cable network keeps scoring in the ratings without trendy sex or violence. Article Comments (5)

By JORDAN C. HIRSCH

Four and a half million Americans tuned in earlier this month to watch the second-season premiere of USA network's series, "White Collar"—a high number by any cable-channel's standards. The tale of an ex-con, forger and thief extraordinaire who partners with the FBI to solve white-collar crime, the series seems to have it all—big money, high society and dangerous villains. But the show is missing two ingredients seemingly inherent to modern television: sex and violence.

You might also notice that absence in the rest of USA's summer lineup. From "Royal Pains," about a concierge doctor treating Hampton's aristocracy on the fly, to "Psych," about a police detective masquerading as a psychic, USA's shows could easily feature carnality and carnage of one kind or another. But they don't. Even "Burn Notice" (about an ex-CIA agent) and the new "Covert Affairs" (about a budding agent) keep the gore and gunshots to a minimum.

According to the president of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, Bonnie Hammer, that's no coincidence. She told me that when NBC purchased USA and assumed command of its programming six years ago, her team developed a "filter" for the station's content that aimed to create "smart, fun escapism." Every USA program emphasizes that essential mission.

"USA shows don't purport to be anything other than enjoyable, hopefully intelligent TV," says "Burn Notice" creator and writer Matt Nix. "There's an audience for that kind of unapologetic television."

Apparently so. USA's filter-certified products secured it a record 15th-straight victory over fellow cable stations in quarterly viewing ratings earlier this year. A wilderness of repeats and wrestling less than a decade ago, the network has used its lighthearted model to conquer the cable world.

USA's accomplishment is all the more remarkable because it comes in the midst of a cultural moment on television teeming with lust and bloodshed. Nothing embodies this trend more enthusiastically than the vampire-themed HBO series "True Blood," which earlier this month displayed its penchant for debauchery in a sex scene so graphic that one Los Angeles Times columnist insisted he would "never forget the image" as long as he lives. The episode inspired a list of the "20 most disturbing TV scenes ever" by Entertainment Weekly.

"True Blood" hardly stands alone among pay-TV shows. Showtime's "Dexter," for instance, chronicles the life of a blood-splatter analyst moonlighting as a serial killer, and "The Real L Word," features the sexual dalliances of Los Angeles lesbians. Although network television usually is less explicit, a glut of sex and/or violence continues to build there as well.

How does USA's escapist model manage to succeed in this sexually-charged, trigger-happy environment? What is it about USA's product that makes it both distinctive and, apparently, a lure for viewers?

Interesting - more at the link.

WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704682604575369463820677910.html?m od=WSJ_Opinion_LEFTTopOpinion)

Jfor
07-30-2010, 05:15 PM
Psych, Whilte Collar, Burn Notice and several other shows are set to record on DVR. Love them all!

Speedy
07-30-2010, 05:27 PM
Psych, Whilte Collar, Burn Notice and several other shows are set to record on DVR. Love them all!

I really liked Covert Affairs. It is a very well done, beautifully shot show. A good mix of intrigue and action.

Burn Notice for being as action packed as it is does not rack up the body count of other action shows like 24 or NCIS.

Jfor
07-30-2010, 05:28 PM
I really liked Covert Affairs. It is a very well done, beautifully shot show. A good mix of intrigue and action.

Burn Notice for being as action packed as it is does not rack up the body count of other action shows like 24 or NCIS.

It doesn't but for some reason I am hooked on the show.

Speedy
07-30-2010, 05:30 PM
Psych, Whilte Collar, Burn Notice and several other shows are set to record on DVR. Love them all!

I discovered a truly amazing show on Hulu.com called Thief. One of the best things I have ever seen and I am surprised that I missed it.

Jfor
07-30-2010, 05:32 PM
Gonna check it out! Thanks. I love Hulu especially since I am working in Texas for the next couple of weeks.

Speedy
07-30-2010, 05:40 PM
It doesn't but for some reason I am hooked on the show.

Alot of why I like the show is because of the characters. Michael Weston has it in him to be a souless, cold blooded killer but prefer's to be a nice guy. The trigger happy, blood thirsty girlfriend is ubber hot but scary at the same time. The sidekick does not take himself seriously but is always there when the chips are down.

Another show I like that is very entertaining is Leverage with Oscar winner Timothy Hutton.

But the best tv I have seen lately is The Deadliest Catch. My God, the last few weeks were intense and the death of Captain. Phil, his death bed chat with his boys, the reaction of the other captains when they learned oh his death and their tributes to him. I swear, it was brutal to watch. Having had my father pass away not to long ago it struck close to home.

Hawkgirl
07-30-2010, 06:44 PM
Lately, I've been on a "Criminal Minds" kick...FBI drama series...I love it...It's on A & E on Sunday nights.

warpig
07-30-2010, 07:04 PM
I'm a big fan of the USA network shows. They all seem to have excellent casting as the characters play well off each other.
Memphis Beat is another come lately than I've gotten hooked on along with Justified.
I really hate to admit it but I also watch the" Sons of Anarchy".............it's like a train wreck...........you can't look away.

Speedy
07-30-2010, 09:57 PM
Justified is one of my faves. Timothy Olyphant was perfectly cast in that one.