Just when you thought network TV was about as low as it could get, Hollywood's ineffective and misdirected attempts to push environmental issues this week brought network television to a new low.
NBC celebrated "Green Week" this week. It was one of the oddest campaigns or ratings stunts of television history, all under the motto "Green is Universal" — perhaps a reference to NBC Universal, the company that owns NBC, Universal Studios, and other media companies.
Probably the only successful change is that NBC's "The More You Know" PSAs were environmentally focused. They are, after all, PSAs, so they can easily fit the theme. Granted, the environmental topics pale in comparison to the standard TMYK themes of domestic violence and drug use, but that's no matter.
The worst of Green Week is that NBC has directed their shows to adopt an environmental theme in this week's episode. What this accomplishes is that each show on NBC suddenly creates an awkward, contrived environmental situation. These environmental themes have been shoved into this week's episode, regardless of the episode's plot or the show's season-long plot arc.
- ER — The ER experiences a blackout after an unseasonably hot Chicago Day. Sam spends some time with a conservationist doing an energy usage study on County General and Morris has a run in with door of a Hummer.
- Heroes — The Heroes logo turns green — literally — for the week.
- Life — Charlie randomly decides to purchase a solar farm because of a dream he had.
- My Name Is Earl — The Warden instructs Earl to toss in some environmental teachings into their "scared straight" program.
The silly theme only thrives in silly, random shows that enjoy being silly, random shows like Scrubs and Deal or No Deal. One of the worst examples is My Name Is Earl: The warden randomly orders that Earl insert an environmental theme into their "scared straight" program for young children. Furthermore, the awkward, forced moments degrade the episodes' content and don't do much to increase awareness of any sort. These are theme's we've heard for the past 15 years. I'd expect environmental snippets like this in a children's program, perhaps, but not in programming geared toward adults.
I'd love to see the writers of any show stand up against this theme — not the environmentalism theme, mind you, but the NBC-mandated "Green Week" theme. No wonder the writers are on strike this week.
TV Envy also has a great article on NBC's Green Week this that delves into the subject that is worth the read.