Television has changed immensely since the days of classic shows of the 1970s like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” “All in the Family” and “The Bionic Woman.” But at this winter’s Television Critics Association press tour critics heard how stars and writers of that classic era view today’s television landscape.
Following suit with what many have said, sitcom writer and producer Norman Lear referred to our day as the Golden Age of television. But at the same time, he believes it’s too politically correct. Indeed, “All in the Family” is a show that you wouldn’t likely see on TV today. Networks now have a “narrow point of view” that does not serve the American audiences well, he told critics. Lear is an upcoming guest on Ovation’s new talk show “Rough Draft with Reza Aslan” (premieres February 28, 8:30pm), which interviews writers about their craft and their lives. “I don’t think the bumper sticker quality of news and discussion helps us understand,” Lear said. Back when there were three broadcast networks, “the news was not expected to make money—it was a loss leader. I think the American people don’t get what they earn by way of help and understanding in context what is going on in their world.”
Ed Asner, known for “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Lou Grant,” agreed that the daily news is often unhelpful to viewers. He’s starring in UP’s film “Love Finds You in Valentine,” premiering next year on Valentine’s Day. “I’m appalled at the state of the world, the state of the future, and it is films such as this… [that] demonstrate that there are still good people in the world to be found and to be cultivated and to give us hope.” An uplifting, positive point of view is often lacking in TV today, he said. “It ain’t to be found in current events or current affairs or your daily news.”
Also starring in “Valentine” is actress Linda Wagner, who offered up her opinion on lady superheroes today. The former star of “The Bionic Woman” said it’s great that women are actually allowed to be superheroes now. But she’s concerned that the modern-day portrayal is “just yesterday’s male hero in some tights and maybe a pushup bra.” What’s often missed is the “feminine aspect of intelligence.” Her hope is that writers will move beyond “explosions, the excitement and the violence” that would typically be used to bring attention to a program. “We are hopefully getting a little bit used to technology so that we don’t have to be mesmerized by it all the time and we can get back to some story.”