Crime dramas will never go away as long as people turn to television for, among other things, reassurance and comfort.
The once inviolate frame within which programs or commercials were displayed on television - always separately - has been violated to a pulp. Program content is seen increasingly as a mere backdrop on which ads are posted like billboards on a fence.
People of a certain age look back on the Mayberry of 'The Andy Griffith Show' and become almost as homesick for that simple fictional hamlet as they do for their own home towns.
A fellow with the inventiveness of Albert Einstein but with the attention span of Daffy Duck.
Obviously neither 'American Idol' nor 'Dancing With the Stars' is a variety show in the classic sense, but the way they incorporate elements of drama, comedy and suspense is moderately ingenious.
Perhaps Western civilization is in a post-decline phase, or maybe the decline is just taking a really long time, like the Roman Empire's did. The Romans had gladiators and Christian-hungry lions and that sort of thing. We have MTV.
In the 500-channel universe, which may, of course, contain many more channels than 500, the fun never stops - fun at such a fever pitch as to sometimes seem threatening, numbing, even agonizing.
Late-night television is like the cereal aisle in the supermarket: too many choices. Also, too many 'different' brands that really aren't different at all.
Like sugar and, oh - let's say the most tabloidy and gossipy reality television programs - credit is, for millions, genuinely addictive.
Technically, 'Kukla, Fran and Ollie' was a kids' show, but adults watched almost religiously - and we're talking adult adults, celebrated adults - including James Thurber, Orson Welles, John Steinbeck, Adlai E. Stevenson and lyricist Stephen Sondheim.
If the networks can get audiences to tolerate pop-up promos by the dozens, maybe they'll start selling pop-up commercials, too.
Gimmicks come and go; the cop show seems one genre that will never leave - not as long as people like to sit at home in the suburbs and see what awful things go on in the cities.
By a twist of fate rather than anything approaching journalistic enterprise, I did the last major interview with Johnny Carson.
Jimmy Kimmel still comes across like a guy who crashed a party and got caught at it, yet adamantly refuses to leave.
The perils of credit and debt, especially perilous in the computer age, have long been acknowledged in pop culture, but very infrequently by TV.
No matter how much programming improves, however, media savants tend to see the medium living out numbered days. It's feared that the Internet will do to TV what TV did to the movies in the 1950s. But instead of panicking, the networks are finding ways to co-opt the Web.
Somewhere around the turn of the century, it stopped being hip to say you never watched TV. Adults are much more likely to find something to engage them on television than they are at the local multiplex. Edges are being cut on television all the time, but at the movies only now and then.
The fault is in our stars, dear Brutus: not the glass screen through which we see them.
You don't hear TV cops griping because they have to enforce some Draconian law that shouldn't be on the books in the first place, or lamenting vindictive excesses in sentencing. Hollywood, supposedly a frothing cauldron of liberalism, has always been conservative on crime.
In the realm of pop celebrity, the bar has been lowered so far that there is no bar. People can be famous for being famous, famous for being infamous, famous for having once been famous and, thanks largely to the Internet, famous for not being famous at all.
"More fun than a barrel of monkeys." Has anyone ever stopped to think how cranky, if not downright vicious, a barrelful of monkeys would be, especially once released from the barrel?
Television's escapist programming naturally continues to endorse living beyond one's means as the time-tested American Way and rarely depicts families or individuals wracked by the pressures and miseries that come with excess.
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