Picks and Pans Review: Critic's Corner
DURING THE LAST COMMERCIAL, while you were in the kitchen fixing a snack, they changed TV. In fact, if you're old enough to remember Woodstock, the powers that program would rather you didn't even come back in the room. Just send in your kids. Network TV is on a youth quest.
Suddenly there's an explosion of shows aimed at the post-baby-boom viewer. In addition to this week's debut of Grapevine (see review), CBS will roll out two other sub-adult summer dramas: Freshman Dorm and 2000 Malibu Road, which is about four people, including Drew Barrymore, sharing a beach house.
Fox, which has gotten fat by catering to a young audience, gives us Vinnie and Bobby (see review) and will shortly unveil the Beverly Hills, 90210 spin-off, Melrose Place, and two juvenile sitcoms, Down the Shore and Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventures. Come fall, the tilt toward youth will grow even more pronounced.
Like everything in TV, this trend is market-driven. Big Nielsen numbers are fine, but the networks know that the real money comes from luring in the under-35 demographics that advertisers covet. Madison Avenue loves people in this age group. They spend freely, and their buying habits are not entrenched, so they can be swayed by commercials.
Of course, if advertisers decided tomorrow that they'd pay a premium to reach Polish ballroom dancers, the networks would soon be showing us nothing but Lawrence Welk reruns.