And we have a winner!

In the increasingly frustrating fall sweepstakes, a show has actually distinguished itself from the pack of wannabes. Limitless is a clever, exciting show with its own narrative voice and a special look and feel. It’s entertaining and, more importantly, feels fresh. This is a show you will close your iPad to watch.

Blindspot, meanwhile, is still a broken sewer pipe spewing cliche’s into the already fouled water supply of television drama. The male protagonist continues to deliver every line from the same stony expression like a hillbilly who’s trying to speak around a wad of chewing tobacco and everyone around him is forced to say stuff like, “Heroes don’t hurt people.” and “He’s serious this time.” and “That bomb is going to go off in thirty-four minutes, we have to get moving!”

And of course the entire overfed, overstaffed, overarmed legion of police forces can only muster one guy and his mentally unstable sidekick to go after a heavily armed terrorist. However, in the real world, if you have an outstanding parking ticket, expect a SWAT team to kick in your door.

I think shows like Blindspot and Minority Report and now, unfortunately, Castle, are meant to be watched with your head down, eyes pointed at your iPad or iPhone. They’ve got the beats, like when a house explodes or a car is blown up or a score of automatic weapons start blasting away on an oddly empty city street, to get you to look up just before the commercial break, but the connective tissue is just lazy writing, the minimum necessary to qualify as a “story” because they know you’re not truly paying attention.

That’s the difference between the old model of networks and the new model of pay services like Netflix and Hulu. Networks don’t sell entertainment. They sell advertising. Pay services are actually selling entertainment.

And as you go further up the channel list, the more desperate the smaller stations are to grab your eyeballs. AMC and FX and the like realized a while ago that they couldn’t sell their commercials unless they get you to watch and that’s why shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy got the green light.

But you and I will watch the major networks by default, so they don’t technically have to deliver anything of quality. Anyone who sat through the execrable One Big Happy knows exactly what the big networks think of their audience.

That migration from the default entertainment has been moving slowly and steadily up the dial and to the pay channels for years and now, the pure services like Netflix and Hulu are jumping in on the deal.

The networks continue to trot out the same old slop, artlessly aping better shows in their Executive Notes versions, and scratching their heads over their shrinking numbers.

It’s sad the old networks are struggling but as someone who once had to choose between Charlie’s Angels, Three’s Company and Baretta, I have decided to celebrate our new options.



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