Josh Selig over on the Kidscreen blog has a post entitled “Why So many Shows Suck“. He’s referring to pre-school shows mainly mind you, and his points make for good reading. Here’s the list, but I recommend reading his post for the rationale too:
1) Too Many Cooks.
Given these four points, clearly the best way to fix pre-school shows would be to tackle each point in turn.
Starting with the first one, too many cooks only really applies to complicated shows. In other words, one based on a property owned by one company, being developed by another and being actually created by yet another one (the studio). Add in a broadcaster and you really do have a lot of people trying to bake on pie.
At issue here is a lack of trust on the part of everyone. The people actually creating the show need enough room to be creative, but must be able to rely on specific instructions from the company they are doing the work for. Strictly speaking, if a studio isn’t directly contracted to a network themselves (a la Brown Bag and the likes of Disney Junior) then the network should be able to trust that the resulting product will be of acceptable quality.
Sadly there isn’t a lot you can do about copycats. People are, how can I put this nicely, idiots, and if they see a success, they will try to replicate it. The nice thing is that they make it obvious they are risk-averse. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it also makes it clear to anyone and everyone that someone was too chicken to try their own idea. Original ideas that succeed also tend to pay the highest dividends; something to always keep in mind.
Laziness is all over the place. It’s existed in entertainment since day dot and is unlikely to change any time soon. All I can say is those who actually put in a good effort are almost always rewarded.
Niceness is not a negative quality in a production. Far from it, it is desirable by too many people who have to go without it. Having said that, there is no reason why there can’t be a hierarchical production structure that isn’t also nice. Believe it or not, you can turn down people’s ideas and make them feel good about it. Walt Disney was a master at this (most of the time) and it worked wonders for him. There’s no reason to be nice for the sake of it only to see the project suffer.