Going, going, gone: DiDs are fading from TV -- for the moment.
copyright 2005 by Pat Powers
It's October 2002. In the last twelve months, there's been a veritable Ragnarok of adventure and science fiction TV series, especially in the world of syndication. They've been cancelled left and right. Many of the series have been great producers of damsel in distress scenes. Just look at the list:
That's a total of fifteen series, two of them (Xena, Walker Texas Ranger) incredibly productive. Several others have produced imaginative, ground-breaking scenes as well (Lexx, Xena, Witchblade).
Worst of all, economic problems have pushed the premiere of The Lost World, a top DiD scene producer in terms of both quality and quantity, back to January 2003. Which has left many observers wondering if the series will be able to recover at all from the epidemic of management chest-pounding that threatens to destroy it. The Lost World, after all, is the only show featuring a sexy babe that actually thought to put her in a sexy costume and let her get caught by bad guys a lot. It would be quite a loss to DiD TV.
Witchblade was also axed by its network though it was trumpeted by its network as its top-rated program. The explanation for this one may have something to do with the star Yancey Butler's struggles with alcoholism (we hope she gets better, but we're still puzzled about the cancellation -- successful series have been known to carry alcoholic, drug-addicted stars for years).
The loss of series on syndicated and lesser networks is particularly bothersome, as their censors tend to let them get away with things the Big Three networks censor. It's really hard to see Xenia Seeberg's undie-clad bondage spreadeagle beneath a guy who's also undie clad and spreadeagled (from the SciFi series Lexx) on ABC, NBC or CBS, especially done in a spirit of sexy fun as it was on Lexx.
However, this fall does have some fairly promising new series: Birds of Prey, She Spies (both of which feature three distressable damsels as stars) and Adventure, Inc.
One new show that promises to equal and perhaps even outdo even Xena and Walker, Texas Ranger in terms of quantity of scenes is the new crime series Without A Trace. A series whose entire premise is the search for missing people sounds like something that, well, I would think up. Given that roughly half of all people are women, and some considerable portion of that half is adult women, we are talking the potential for major DiD numbers. As for quality -- well, who knows?
But frankly, it would have to be a season of totally unprecedented DiD productivity, with three or four Xena level contenders to provide good prospects for replacing what's been lost over the last year.
Logically speaking, we're due for a considerable dimunition in the number of scenes on television. I don't see this as the product of any trends relating to DiD scenes and/or bondage on TV -- I think the loss of DiD scenes is an accidental byproduct of the loss of action/adventure and sci-fi series generally. The only real trend I've seen on TV is a general increase in the imaginativeness and quality of scenes, which may decrease as well with the decrease in the number of scenes.
But maybe not. The Big Three networks are hurting bad, hemorrhaging viewers to cable channels and other media at dangerously high rates. They're going to have to experiment, and that may work to the advantage of those who like DiD scenes-- or it may not. It's hard to know.
Movies are coming out with scenes of great power and imaginativeness, and the success of Secretary with the critics is especially heartening. Network television, being the imitiative and backward medium that it is, may eventually stumble into this turf (but don't COUNT on it). Between that and the success of Without A Trace, which is scoring in the top 20 Nielson-rated TV shows regularly -- an excellent performance for any show, but topnotch for a new series -- we can reasonably hope for a quick recovery from the Ragnarok of DiD TV.
(Editor's Note: Management chest-pounding did in fact do in The Lost World. As of March 2005 (three LOOOONG years) there has been no recovery for DiD scenes on TV. Some series have popped with scenes, but there has been nothing LIKE the wealth of DiD scenes that were present prior to 2001. The most productive venue for DiD scenes on TV has been the soap operas, but I just don't have the heart to track them, given how dull soap operas are. Prime time TV has been a virtual desert of DiD scenes, relative to what was on prior to the DiD Ragnarok. The rise of reality TV series and police procedurals (Law&Order and its clones, and CSI and its clones) have really cut back on DiD imagery. On the other hand, movies, especially indie movies, have been VERY productive (Spun, Secretary and others). And Skinamax continues to be full of male DiD scenes and relatively free of female DiD scenes.)