There was a period late in the lifespan of GM's now-defunct Oldsmobile line when the dependability that had made the line so successful for so long began to be viewed as a drawback, not an asset in a youth-driven marketplace. "Not your father's Oldsmobile" became the new tagline, but it didn't help, as it alienated the people who actually liked their father's cars. GM added different bells and whistles, tweaked the basic concept as much as they could, but eventually phased out the line.To read the full column, click here.
The original "Law & Order" was nearly at that stage last May. NBC was putting together its fall schedule, and suddenly all those familiar, reliable qualities that had made the show one of the most ubiquitous brands in primetime seemed like a hindrance. Why bother tuning in to new episodes of the old warhorse when reruns and the spin-offs were on virtually 24-7 around the channel guide? They tried adding younger, prettier female sidekicks on both the cop and lawyer side without halting the ratings slide. (The move to Fridays didn't help, admittedly, but the show had been trending downward on Wednesdays, too.)
At the last minute, NBC cut a deal with franchise overlord Dick Wolf to bring the original back at mid-season, which has turned into a stroke of luck. When it returns tonight, it'll be one of the few well-known scripted shows with a lot of episodes left, and much of the competition will be repeats due to the writers' strike.
But the first five episodes of season 18 couldn't help reminding me of the "Not your father's Oldsmobile" campaign.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
And yet another column from today, reviewing the bright, shiny but still fundamentally familiar new season of "Law & Order":