JUDGING by the numerous empty spots in the TV schedules this week and the switch over from new episodes to repeats all over the place, the big three are preparing for the next big push in this year’s ratings war.
Southern Cross is about to start screening series two of the massive hit Downton Abbey, so 7TWO is replaying all of season one in double- episode instalments starting tonight at 8.30pm.
Meanwhile, it is back to repeats of Bones and Castle on Sunday nights.
TDT appears to have filled much of its schedule with repeats of NCIS and Law & Order during the later parts of the evening, most likely as place- holders for its imminent series returns like Offspring.
WIN has regressed to endless repeats of The Big Bang Theory for the early evenings and empty slots for later times, which will probably have been filled by the time this goes to print – Channel 9’ s stable of channels has been issuing up to a dozen amendments a day lately.
Those highly promoted new season episodes of The Mentalist are still switching nights with depressing regularity and it’s often impossible to keep track.
So it has been pretty hard to reliably pick highlights this week, as they tend to change as soon as they are plugged into the schedule.
The empty spots in the guide might be filled by the time you read this, but things are certain to be shuffled around in coming weeks as the channels play that weird bluff- double- bluff game that programming directors love to play – each waiting to see what the other has planned.
But April 1 also marks the start of season two of the obsession- creating HBO series Game of Thrones in the US, so anyone with an internet downloading habit will probably ignore the television completely as they count down the seconds until they can grab the latest episode direct from America.
Locally, the first episode of season two premieres on Austar channel Showcase on April 10, which is good news for those who: a) have pay- TV; and b) are willing to tolerate the week- and- a- bit delay between the US premiere and the Australian premiere of each episode.
What do you notice here? The big- ticket drama series Game of Thrones has a definite premiere date for HBO in the US, which has been set in stone for some time.
The Australian FTA networks, however, only offer a vague ‘‘ coming soon’’ with no fixed date to look forward to, and endlessly shuffle things around, usually showing ‘‘ new’’ episodes many months past their US release and muddling repeats in with the new episodes.
Despite changes in the way we watch TV these days, people are still interested in ‘‘ appointment TV’’, making time on particular nights to watch the latest episode of something they really enjoy.
Even the downloaders waiting for pirated copies of American shows to hit the web so they can watch them immediately are proof of that.
So come on guys, how about a little certainty for a change? Nobody likes being strung along and stood up.