The Passing of the Grid

Every year, since way back when I was a teenager, my inner geek has always looked forward to the new TV season. For years, that meant I would eagerly pour through the Fall Preview issue of TV GUIDE. Once cable took over the television landscape, TV GUIDE withered away to a mere shadow of its former self, I simply switched my Fall TV loyalty to ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY.

The new EW showed up this week, and it’s the biggest Fall Preview Issue the magazine has ever had. The new TV season fills the entire magazine, and its a “double issue!” The mag covers both new and returning shows on a day-by-day basis (Monday shows, Tuesday shows, etc.) for both broadcast and cable networks, followed by descriptions of new shows being offered by various streaming services.

It’s a hell of a lot of information, and I found myself wanting to organize all these shows into some sort of coherent form.It was then I realized how much I missed “The Grid.”

The Grid was a central feature of all my old TV GUIDE reading. It was a multi-colored chart showing every program on TV, and every prime-time hour on every network for all seven days of the week. It gave me a sense of what I wanted to watch and when. The choices were not always easy, since the networks, in some sort of TV show suicide death pact, would program shows opposite each other that would appeal to the same audience. I still remember, on Wednesday nights back in the sixties, when I had to choose between LOST IN SPACE and BATMAN. But, despite these small problems, The Grid let me make sense of my TV watching options.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY used to show The Grid as well. But not this year. Thanks to On-Demand programming, the use of DVRs, and whole seasons of shows being dumped into people’s laps all at the same time, it no longer makes sense. To be honest, I hardly ever watch anything during the time slot that it is actually broadcast, maybe the occasional show that happens on a night when we’re usually home (most recent example: POLDARK.) The days of making sure you’re home on Tuesdays to watch BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER are long gone.

Interestingly, the networks are still doing their suicidal counter-programming. Two shows based on DC comics, GOTHAM and SUPERGIRL, are on opposite each other on Monday nights. But by now, for most of us and all our viewing options, that silly scheduling won’t matter.

So I’ll just have to follow the reviews of the new shows, scan through all the stuff on On-Demand, and listen to what my friends think about what they are watching. I’m sure, eventually, that I will catch up with everything that is worth watching.

But darn it, I still miss The Grid.