I’ll come right out and say it: I like a lot of what is on television. It seems a lot of us do. More people are involved in their favorite shows than ever before.
With the vast array of choices available today, there are top-notch, entertaining programs to fit into every interest and niche.
Dirty Jobs is a fascinating and amusing look into areas of employment that most of us have never witnessed. One of the keys to its success is Mike Rowe, its host, who understands that first and foremost, television must be entertaining.
Another personality-driven, lively show is Mythbusters. It’s pretty hard not to get absorbed into each new episode. Jamie and Adam always keep it funny and we get to see cool things happen.
I adore watching every episode of Man Vs. Wild. Sure, Bear Grylls is pompous, but I get transported to places I’ll never visit and watch Bear perform feats I’ll never attempt. Plus we get to watch him eat bugs.
I get caught up in many of the competition-based reality shows. American Idol continues to showcase some incredibly talented voices. So You Think You Can Dance hooks me every week. I have learned more about dance from that show than I have ever known. Amazing athletes, those kids. America’s Got Talent is the best variety show ever on T.V. When I first watched and listened to ten-year-old Jackie Evancho sing opera, it left me with feelings of elation and awe I will never forget.
I am totally hooked on Glee, one of the silliest, most outrageous shows ever. With such lightheartedness, catchy music, and charm, you can’t help but enjoy it.
I haven’t even mentioned some of the great programs on the History Channel. (Modern Marvels, anyone?) The key to finding good T.V. is the DVR, which has revolutionized the way I watch. In general, I have no idea what time my shows “air”: they simply show up in my recordings so I can watch them at my convenience and without commercials.
So where are the woodworking shows?
With this cornucopia of television choices, and with all its specialization and niche-marketing, why is there virtually nothing for woodworkers? In this age of technology, more and more people are turning to the hands-on simplicity of woodworking as a hobby and to even make a few extra bucks. Are T.V. producers even aware of this market? Sure there are a couple of woodworking shows on Public Television, but since New Yankee Workshop is no longer on, I watch none of them. Mainly because PBS can’t produce an entertaining show to save its government-funded life.
Problems with woodworking on T.V.
There has never been a truly entertaining woodworking show. Norm Abram was an exception, but his appeal lay mainly with “serious” woodworkers. Strangely, it worked due to his likeable personality. To be objective, New Yankee was not the most exciting show ever aired and would not survive on commercial T.V., but for sake of this article I will leave Norm aside; he’s a legend and in a category of his own. (What I'd like to see Norm do is broadcast his own low-budget web show.)
The best shows on television are personality-driven and understand that the primary purpose of T.V. is to entertain. Woodworking hosts may know a lot about their craft, but they come across as tedious and dreadfully boring. If I want woodworking instruction, I’ll turn to the internet or even a book.
Most woodworking shows have been geared toward higher end woodworkers and lead the viewer to believe that the craft can only be accomplished with expensive tools. The finished products are super-fine examples of workmanship, but I wonder how many potential woodworkers have actually been turned away from trying them because they are intimidated by these guys rather than inspired.
Show hosts make projects that most people will never attempt and are expensive. Any of you planning on making a mahogany armoire any time soon? Wouldn’t it be nice to see a show that features projects that are actually approachable?
In part two of this article, I'll pitch Hollywood some suggestions. Woodworking can be entertaining and profitable for television producers.
Read part 2 of this article: Making Woodworking Entertaining