Free TV shows on television were born much in the same way as those radio shows of old. First, radio was the venue for playing music and broadcasting the latest news. Later, there were good old chats, the commentaries and the talk shows. Then, entertainment like songs and stories dramatized for radio arrived and stayed.
When television came into the scene, the network owners more or less followed the same time-tested formula. Only this time, the number of categories was almost doubled because there was an important detail added to the medium – the visual element.
One of the biggest come-ons for watching free TV shows is the availability of several varieties of these free shows. Each category is designed to cater to everyone’s taste.
Here are some of the more popular and important ones.
Even in the early days of TV, broadcasting the news was of paramount importance. Prestige and the continuing reputation of networks depended largely on how they handle and disseminate the news. This time, they are spiced with the added moving visuals in contrast to photo stills in newspapers and simple descriptive narrations in radio broadcasts.
TV serials and series
Series are drama stories that vary each week but headlined by the same group of characters. The featured stories or situations could be on specific locales (hospital dramas) or occupations (police action-dramas).
Serials are continuing stories of a group of characters, where each week’s episode picks up the narrative thread left off from the preceding week. This is not a popular primetime format in the U.S. right now, except in daytime soap operas. (Soap operas got their nickname because they were largely sponsored in the early days by soap manufacturers.)
Another variety is the miniseries, a continuing story aired on limited number of episodes. The more notable successes were Rich Man Poor Man and Roots.
These are basically comedy shows headlined by comic actors in comic stories about everyday lives. The characters in these 30-minute-long shows usually deal with odd, uncomfortable and mostly comic situations.
As the term implies, a special is an important one-time show aired with much fanfare and can interrupt or temporarily replace any regular program.
They can be a big movie, a documentary, a musical event, an awards show like the Oscars, a live event like a presidential oath-taking, a big sporting event, or coverage of an important cultural event.
These are shows where people talk about various topics initiated by the host. Sometimes, they feature a panel of guests to help discuss the issues at hand. Another feature is the taking in of live phone calls from viewers.
Talk shows can also be comic all throughout, with comedy hosts and celebrity guests talking about current entertainment issues or about the guest celebrities themselves.
These are popular shows usually shown on daytime where there is a real contest with big prizes and rewards. To spice up the games, celebrities are sometimes included as players either playing against themselves or against ordinary contestants. (Spelling Bee was the first TV game show.)
This relatively new show concept is supposedly unscripted and unrehearsed. They feature non-actors interacting with one another, dealing with invented challenges (like ‘surviving’ in an island), or competing against each other for some rewards (affection of another person, big money, etc.) They usually emphasize interpersonal conflicts and the varying emotions of the participants and the resulting “real-life drama”.
Today, there also exist the so-called specialty stations or channels whose programs cater to a specialized group of audience. Examples would be cable stations like Animal Planet, Nickelodeon, National Geographic, ESPN, Discovery and others.
For the average viewer, these are bonanza days of viewing free TV shows. You can pick and watch any program you like at any hour of the day, seven days a week. Unfortunately, one has to live one’s life as well – eat, sleep, and work.
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