Entertainment programs dominate open TV: evolution or setback?
From its origins, The nature of Argentine television can also be recognized in the award-winning entertainment programs. That identity accompanies the evolution of the screen and the local industry through its seven decades of existence and provides it with an essential element: no other expression or genre will better reflect the direct link between television and its audience. We could write a fairly accurate history of TV in Argentina compiling the cycles in which anonymous people (men, women, children, entire families) respond to the call of the screen to play for all kinds of rewards.
These days we are witnessing a kind of greening of entertainment with prizes on our open TV. At the end of 2021 there were at least 13 proposals with these characteristics on the air channel grids. Some temporarily left the screen during this vacation time while other proposals (some quite ambitious) are preparing for the high season of 2022.
Is there any explanation for the resurgence of this model? In principle, although it crosses the entire open screen, the trend registers varied nuances depending on each case. The complete picture acquires meaning from the sum of all these contributions. El Trece, for example, seems to have decisively bet almost all of its chips on entertainment, especially in the evening slot. The news was displaced to the morning (in its most mundane version, with entertainment and gossip as axes) and to the channel’s traditional informative spaces. And the talk shows with an all-female panel, another formula that had become popular a few seasons ago, faded after several failures and premature upheavals.
Today, the radio station of Constitución has a good part of the grid from Monday to Friday assembled on the basis of competitive entertainment with prizes and the participation of the public: Match Game, Home Sweet Home, Welcome aboard, 100 Argentines say, The 8 million steps. The only solid base of the assembly is the decision to support this profile, because the programs work as fuses or interchangeable pieces according to the ups and downs of the rating.
The announced arrival for the coming weeks (or months) of late shift Y The great game of the goose tells us that stability comes from the format and not from the permanence of each program, although a good part of the appeal is sustained by the efforts of some of its protagonists. the indefatigable Guido the Duck He works double (and even triple) daily shifts and is already a specialist in “paddling” this type of proposal, although sometimes he falls into vulgarity. and the figure of Dario Barassi (one of the few great revelations of open TV in recent times, a very good actor turned into an excellent host) is so important that the channel needed several replacements (none at his level) to prop up 100 Argentines say in this summer.
This shift in the programming of El Trece is the starkest portrait of the reality that open television faces today. Here changes in habits are mixed with the hardships typical of a very tight economic situation. There is no longer any money or resources, for example, to sustain the production of fiction. The classic local evening soap operas, with all their great history behind them, are hardly a distant memory today. And the talk shows with supposed topical debates that should attract the female public, they ceased to be of interest, especially since the resounding failure of Women in El Trece, at the end of 2020.
This is where award shows come in, which are notoriously cheaper in terms of production, can easily catch the attention of people (willing to participate in the study or from home), often do not require painstaking creative efforts (100 Argentines say, for example, is based on the American TV classic Family Feud) and turn to well-known names that find here an effective vehicle to promote themselves. No one tears their hair if the farewell has to be brought forward in case the audience numbers do not respond. No matter how much effort and industriousness is put into its assembly and launch, television logic itself accepts in these cases that these are products exposed from the beginning to the certain risk of being discarded.
It can also happen that this type of program falls victim to urgency and the rush to get an impact. A competition with rewards carried out in the style of a reality show like The great prize of the kitchen He came quite extravagantly to complete 15 seasons in just three years (started in 2018). Although the continuity of the cycle seems assured, the warning of the risk of rapid exhaustion is clear. Argentine television has the dubious custom of bringing entertainment programs to the daily format that have been running weekly since the beginning in their countries of origin.
The possibility of premature exhaustion or exposure to discard appear as logical and inevitable consequences of a reality in which expectations are as modest as rewards. Today, the Argentine television awards are also victims of the ravages of inflation and the bottomless fall in the purchasing power of the peso. A million has long ceased to be a powerful number as an incentive for a television competition. Today, instead of taking risks in search of the jackpot and ending up with nothing on the way, participants prefer to take much lower and more austere values as a sure reward to get out of trouble, do home repairs or indulge in some not too pretentious treat.
This can explain the failure of some formulas that in other countries with stable economies became colossal successes. The Argentine version of Who wants to be a millionaire? It ended very quickly because no competitor was encouraged to leave everything in search of the maximum prize, which in the final season (the one that Santiago del Moro hosted by Telefé in 2019) had nothing of a millionaire. This anomaly also forced the rapid transition of the program towards a quiz show tear gas to help people with economic problems and different disabilities.
The prizes are no longer what they used to be. We will have to see how it comes back Susana Gimenez, which has been known in the past for delivering some of the largest rewards in the history of game shows and entertainment. The time when TV had the luxury of giving away a car 0 km per week or per month in some cycles has also remained as an old memory.
There do not even seem to be enough resources to stimulate some competition between student groups for the graduate trip on television, as was the case in another now-extinct model of entertainment program (the omnibus-style program Happy Sunday or the one that lasted for several weekly broadcasts like the last passenger). However, Telefé has been talking about the recovery of this format for the near future.
Nor does there seem to be much encouragement for the return of entertainment programs with questions and answers designed to raise the cultural framework of the participants. Of models like the pioneer Blood asks Y planting time Today there are only imitations like Who knows more about Argentina? (the only entertainment program recently programmed by Public TV) and The exact time, a bet with some interesting ideas from El Nueve, a station that at the same time repeats worn-out formulas like that of great great, something he remembered Berugo Carambula did much better (and certainly more original) under the name of clink box in the 90’s.
This television universe has, as can be seen, ever greater aspirations and ever scarcer resources. In the midst of this paradox, there are programs that manage to overcome the challenge and sustain the trend: 100 Argentines say (The thirteen), Pass word and the renewed Done deal with Lizy Tagliani and Roberto Moldavsky (Telefé). The roulette of your dreams (lone example of this trend in America) must still stand the test of time to find any parallels with some successful international versions of a format also born in the United States: Wheel of Fortune.
No matter what happens, none can come close to the kind of contests, competitions and television entertainment programs that everyone talked about in the old days. Blood asks The surprise and a half they could sustain an entire programming by themselves and provide TV with some of the pillars of its strength in their respective times.
Today, as if it were an involuntary homage to the origins, award-winning entertainment on broadcast TV is more like the very modest titles that began the history of the genre back in the 1950s: fill it out yourself, garments and riddles; Ma’am, be practical; do it in a minute; Don’t get burned, sir; And you, what do you know how to do? Beyond the technological transformations and the samples of innovation and vanguard in set design, the path of one of the specialties most identified with the nature and identity of television seems to take us back to the starting point.