Volume 97, Issue 3
Thursday, June 5, 2003

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Summer sun or a hot rerun?

Mark Polishuk
Opinions Editor

NBC used to have a marketing campaign for its summer reruns with the tagline "If you haven't seen it, it's new to you!" Not surprisingly, this was soon dropped due to the inherent stupidity of trying to make a big deal out of reruns. Face it, there's just not as much incentive to watch TV during the summer.

But in my case, the summer is a time for scouting shows I might want to add to my regular viewing schedule in the fall. The trouble with this is many of today's shows have seasonal story arcs that are tough to pick up on in one show.

Take 24 for example. The show has a clever gimmick for hooking viewers, as every episode is one hour of the same day. If you only watch the reruns however, you're likely going to watch a random episode from the middle of the season. You won't have any idea what is going on. "Who is that guy? Are all foreigners evil on this show? Why is Kiefer Sutherland killing everybody? He seemed so nice in Young Guns."

Sitcoms are different. Instead of getting emotionally involved in a complex storyline, you can just laugh. Like a good wine however, sitcom reruns need time to breathe. If I watch a Friends episode a few months after I've originally seen it, I feel like I'm wasting my life – then again, Friends often does that.

Once that same episode goes into syndication however, I can watch it a year from now and get a "Hey, I remember this one" vibe. The only show exempt from this is The Simpsons, since their reruns have become so entwined into the fabric of our lives you can watch the same episode twice in a row and it still seems new.

The newest trend for the summer is not reruns at all, but instead new reality shows. Ready for new editions of Dog Eat Dog, the game show whose main marketing hook is that host Brooke Burns will be dressed in sexy clothes? Let's just hope to God that Jeopardy never adopts the same idea.

But then again, if you haven't seen Alex Trebek's pasty white skin, it's new to you!


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