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Like it or not, television has gone where no one dreamed. The days when producers, writers, and comics joked about censors are long gone. Nowadays the biggest challenge to those working in or on TV is their own creativity. Can they be good? Can they be so bad they are considered good? Can they attract an audience? In the past year, TV has proved an unflappable and unfailing reflection of our tastes and desires, and in a sense, who we are at this point in time. We’ve lost quality series because not enough people tuned in, and we’ve marveled at some of the shows everyone seems to watch. We’ve seen death and divorce, marriage and teen moms, multimillion dollar winners and biggest losers. What can we expect in 2012? Aside from more and better, here are 12 previews and predictions for the new year.
1. OPRAH WINFREY RETURNS: No big surprise here. In an effort to draw more viewers to her OWN network, the former Queen of Daytime returns January 1 with her new interview series, Oprah’s Next Chapter. Her first guest is Steven Tyler. Is there anything left to know about the Aerosmith frontman-turned-American Idol judge? No. Are we curious to see whether Oprah has the chops for memorable, compelling prime time interviews? You bet. Previews look good. You can set your DVR remotely here. Will the show help OWN? It’s a step in the right direction.
2. THE BACHELOR: Doe-eyed Ben Flajnik is the 16th Bachelor, and yes, millions will tune-in to see whether this man who says he’s only been in love, actually in love, three times, including with Bachelorette Ashley Herbert, who nixed his proposal. Will he find love? No, at least not beyond the rose ceremony to end all previous rose ceremonies that ended all those that came before. Watch the preview here.
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3. JERSEY SHORE: The gang returns for a new season on January 5, and the gang will party as if their show will outlast their livers. It won’t. Look for spinoffs.
4. THE WEDNESDAY NIGHT DILEMMA Starting January 11, NBC moves Whitney to Wednesday nights, followed by Are You There Chelsea, and in February Rock Center with Brian Williams is going to switch over, too, creating a surfeit of must-see TV that includes Modern Family, American Idol, The Middle, Happy Endings, and Revenge. That’s almost five hours of TV in one night. Oy, we predict a bleary-eyed Thursday morning.
6. LUCK: Some have said they’d rather be lucky than good. HBO prefers being good, and their new series Luck looks as if it could be not just good but great. Check the participants: Michael Mann directing, David Milch writing, and Dustin Hoffman in the lead. We predict a hit. Watch a preview here.
7. THE VOICE: The surprise hit returns on February 5, following the Super Bowl, and we’re predicting it will be even bigger than American Idol.
8. SUPER BOWL XLVI: One hundred and eleven million people watched the Packers whomp the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, and we’re going to predict another record audience will sit in front of their televisions to watch the Packers whomp the Steelers again. Oh, and don’t forget the memorable commercials. We’re predicting a few of those, too.
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9. MORNING TELEVISION: We predicting GMA will beat Today for the first time, Ryan Seacrest will take over for Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and Gayle King will not have the chemistry to revamp CBS’s Early Show, and Morning Joe will remain the best, smartest, most informative morning show on TV – that is, until Seacrest – quelle shock – revamps Today in the same style, with Kim Kardashian as his Mika Brzezinski.
10. TIME SPENT WATCHING TELEVISION: Right now, the average American watches 5 hours of television per day, and people are watching even more as shows become available on nearly electronic device known to man except maybe your toaster. But wait, you never know. It’s a good venue for a new Bobby Flay series. The game changer will be TV’s connected to the Internet. Once people can watch favorite show, check email, send friend requests, share, and Skype from their TV, we predict the amount of time people will spend in front of their TV will double to 10 hours per day.
11. SMASH WILL BE A SMASH: The buzz is good for this new series from executive producers Steven Spielberg, Craig Zadan and Neil Meron about the backstage drama of a new musical based on the life of Marilyn Monroe. We saw the pilot – and loved it. Watch an extended preview below.
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12. JENNIFER LOPEZ GOES DAYTIME: She is wildly charismatic, beautiful, and likable. She also seems to have the ability to go from highbrow to Jenny on the Block, depending on the situation. Can you think of another talk show host who did that? Yes, Oprah. And the amount of dough she raked in makes the $20 million Lopez gets from Idol look like chump change. Although no one has ever mentioned this as a possibility, at least not to our knowledge, we’re making the predictions, and so if it doesn’t pan out, we’ll have got the previous 11 right.
One last prediction: a good 2012 for you. Happy new year.