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1043 TV Shows Being Renewed and Cancelled

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,043 – TV Shows Being Renewed and Cancelled.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,043. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Visit our website at ESLPod.com. Go there and become a member of ESL Podcast. If you do, you can download a complete transcript of everything we say on this podcast, as well as definitions of all the key terms and words that I’m explaining here. You’ll also get some additional English lessons with our Cultural Notes that are included in the Learning Guides.

This episode is a dialogue between Mo and Amy about television programs. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Mo: I have some bad news: Your favorite TV show has been cancelled.

Amy: I’m not surprised. Ratings plummeted last season, so the writing was on the wall.

Mo: Also on the chopping block is your favorite reality show: American Idiots.

Amy: Oh no, not American Idiots, too! I thought it was gaining ground in the ratings after a slow start.

Mo: Unfortunately, it stayed a cult favorite and never garnered a large enough viewership to be renewed.

Amy: I’ll have nothing to watch next season.

Mo: You can watch some of my shows. All of my favorites are being renewed, with one taking a short hiatus.

Amy: A short hiatus? We all know what that means.

Mo: What are you implying?

Amy: The network will put in a mid-season replacement, and if it does well, you’ll never see your show again.

Mo: That’s not true. You’re just saying that because your shows got the ax.

Amy: No, I’m not. That show is on its last legs. Mark my words.

Mo: Well, even if it’s true, I still have something to watch, for now.

Amy: What are you watching right now?

Mo: A show called Podsters. It’s a reality show where a bunch of podcasters live in a house together and are watched 24 hours a day.

Amy: I’ve never heard of anything so inane. Who cares about the lives of podcasters? They must be the most boring people in the world.

Mo: You might have a point there.

[end of dialogue]

Mo says to Amy, “I have some bad news: Your favorite TV show has been cancelled.” If a TV show is “cancelled,” it is no longer going to continue to be on television. “To be cancelled” in general means to have something ended. It is no longer continued. Mo says that Amy’s favorite TV show has been cancelled.

Amy says, “I’m not surprised. Ratings plummeted last season, so the writing was on the wall.” “Ratings” (ratings) refer to how popular something is. When we talk about the ratings of a TV show, we are referring to the number of people who are watching the show. If ratings “plummet” (plummet), they go down, or decrease, significantly – fewer and fewer people are watching the show. Amy says the ratings for her favorite show plummeted this last season.

A “season” (season) is a period of time that occurs during the year and repeats the next year and the year after that. We could talk about the “baseball season,” which begins in April and ends in October or early November. The television season in the United States usually begins in the fall in September and continues to the spring, usually May or June of the following year.

During the summer, then, there aren’t as many new programs, although nowadays there are new programs all the time throughout the year, but traditionally we talk about the television season as the time in which a show is being shown on television – when you can watch it on television. The normal TV season was always September to June, but now things have changed and there are lots of different seasons.

We also use this word “season” to refer to a set of programs that go together. Many TV shows, for example, have three, four, five, perhaps even six seasons, and each season includes maybe 15 or 20 episodes, 15 or 20 individual shows. Amy uses the expression “the writing was on the wall.” “The writing was on the wall” is a phrase meaning that it was clear or obvious that something was going to happen – that nobody should be surprised by it, that all the indications were that this would happen.

Mo says, “Also on the chopping block is your favorite reality show, American Idiots.” “To be on the chopping (chopping) block (block)” means to be in danger of being cancelled or ended. If someone says, “My job is on the chopping block,” he means that his job may be eliminated and he may be fired; he may lose his job.

Anything can be on the chopping block. “To chop” means to cut. A “chopping block” would be a place where, for example, a butcher – someone who cuts meat – would cut the meat. It would also be a place where you might kill an animal. So, to be on the chopping block means to be in danger of being not killed, but cancelled or perhaps fired, even.

Amy’s favorite reality TV show is on the chopping block. A “reality TV show” is a TV show in which supposedly people aren’t acting, that it’s supposed to be real life, although usually it isn’t. Amy’s favorite TV show, reality TV show, is American Idiots, which is not a real show (but it could be and probably will be, someday). An “idiot” (idiot) is a stupid person, a dumb person.

Amy says, “Oh no, not American Idiots, too! I thought it,” meaning the show, “was gaining ground in the ratings.” “To gain (gain) ground” means to improve slowly – to get better, to increase. Amy thought the show was becoming more popular, that more people were watching it.

Mo says, “Unfortunately, it stayed a cult favorite and never garnered a large enough viewership to be renewed.” A “cult (cult) favorite” is a show that is very popular among a small group of people. The average person doesn’t like the show, but a small group of people do, and that often is enough to keep a television show going. However, that was not the case for Amy’s TV show. The show “never garnered a large enough viewership.”

“To garner” (garner) means to gather or receive or collect. “I’m garnering donations for my favorite charity” – I’m getting money to give to an organization that does good things. This television show did not garner a large enough viewership. The word “viewership” just refers to the number of people who watch the show, or to the people who watch the show. “To garner a large enough viewership” would be to get enough people watching the television program.

This show didn’t do that, at least not enough to be renewed. If a television show is “renewed” (renewed), it is continued into the next year or the next season. So, if it is a popular show, the people who make the show and the television channels that broadcast the show will continue it. They’ll continue producing that program. “To be renewed” is the opposite of “to be cancelled.” Mo says that this television show that Amy likes, American Idiots, was not renewed.

Amy says, “I’ll have nothing to watch next season.” “Next season” refers to, probably in this case, the following fall and spring. Mo says, “You can watch some of my shows” – my favorite shows. “All of my favorites are being renewed, with one taking a short hiatus.” A “hiatus” (hiatus) is a short break. When a show takes a hiatus, it is not cancelled, but it is stopping production for a short amount of time, but it will be continuing again in a few months or perhaps next year.

Amy says, “A short hiatus? We all know what that means.” The expression “we all know what that means” is used to indicate that everyone understands the real meaning of it that isn’t what is being told to you. There’s some other meaning involved. Mo, however, says, “What are you implying?” “To imply” (imply) means to say something indirectly – to speak in a way that isn’t direct that is communicating the message, but not saying it explicitly.

Amy says “The network,” the television network, “will put in a midseason replacement, and if it does well, you’ll never see your show again.” Sometimes what happens is during the middle of the year, if a television show perhaps isn’t doing very well, the television channels will put in a different show, what’s called a “midseason replacement.” “Mid” (mid) means “in the middle of.”

So, in the middle of the regular September to June television season, the television network – the group of television channels that all show the same shows – will put in another show and say that this first show is “on hiatus.” It’s on a break. But if the replacement show does better than the original show, they’ll often cancel the original show, and you’ll never see it again.

Mo says, “That’s not true. You’re just saying that because your shows got the ax.” “To get the ax” (ax) means to be cancelled or to be fired. “My friend got the ax at work,” at his company. He got fired. Amy says, “No, I’m not,” meaning I’m not saying that just because my shows were cancelled.

Amy says, “That show is on its last legs.” We’re not sure which show Amy is talking about, since Mo mentioned that all of his favorites were being renewed, so apparently Mo and Amy understand which show she’s referring to. Amy says, “That show is on its last legs.” If you are “on your last legs” (legs), you’re very tired and might even die soon. If we say a television show is on its last legs, we mean it probably will be cancelled soon. It’s about to die, if you will.

Amy says, “Mark my words.” That expression “mark (mark) my words” is used to get someone to pay attention to what you are saying, especially when it refers to a prediction – what might happen in the future. “Mark my words, the Dodgers will win the World Series this year.” Well, I hope! The World Series is the U.S. championship for professional baseball. Amy is telling Mo to mark her words, that this show will be cancelled, whatever show they’re talking about.

Mo says, “Well, even if it’s true, I still have something to watch for now.” Amy says, “What are you watching right now?” at this minute. Mo says, “A show called Podsters. It’s a reality show where a bunch of podcasters live in a house together and are watched 24 hours a day.” There is no show called Podsters in the U.S., but there are shows in which people are put on camera for the entire day and the TV shows show them during parts of the day. Big Brother is an example of a show like that. But Mo is watching a show in our dialogue called Podsters.

Amy says, “I’ve never heard of anything so inane.” If something is “inane” (inane), it’s stupid. It’s foolish. It’s silly. Amy thinks that a show about podcasters is inane. Mo says, “You might have a point there.” If you say to someone, “You might have a point there,” you mean that the other person may be right; maybe what the other person is saying is true. Mo, then, is agreeing with Amy that a show called Podsters is, indeed, inane.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Mo: I have some bad news: Your favorite TV show has been cancelled.

Amy: I’m not surprised. Ratings plummeted last season, so the writing was on the wall.

Mo: Also on the chopping block is your favorite reality show: American Idiots.

Amy: Oh no, not American Idiots, too! I thought it was gaining ground in the ratings after a low start.

Mo: Unfortunately, it stayed a cult favorite and never garnered a large enough viewership to be renewed.

Amy: I’ll have nothing to watch next season.

Mo: You can watch some of my shows. All of my favorites are being renewed, with one taking a short hiatus.

Amy: A short hiatus? We all know that that means.

Mo: What are you implying?

Amy: The network will put in a mid-season replacement, and if it does well, you’ll never see your show again.

Mo: That’s not true. You’re just saying that because your shows got the ax.

Amy: No, I’m not. That show is on its last legs. Mark my words.

Mo: Well, even if it’s true, I still have something to watch, for now.

Amy: What are you watching right now?

Mo: A show called Podsters. It’s a reality show where a bunch of podcasters live in a house together and are watched 24 hours a day.

Amy: I’ve never heard or anything so inane. Who cares about the lives of podcasters? They must be the most boring people in the world.

Mo: You might have a point there.

[end of dialogue]

There’s nothing inane about the wonderful scripts written by our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse. She won’t be getting the ax anytime soon, I’m sure.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to be cancelled – for something to be ended, so that it no longer continues

* Unfortunately, there was a problem with your credit card, so your membership subscription has been canceled.

ratings – information about how popular something is, especially about how many people view or participate in something

* Critics praised the show, but it never got very good ratings.

to plummet – to fall a great distance very quickly; to decrease significantly and rapidly

* After Blake said those mean things, Paulina’s self-confidence plummeted.

season – a period of time that repeats every year, often when new episodes of television shows are shown or sports team compete

* Accountants are always busy during tax season each spring.

the writing was on the wall – a phrase meaning that it was clear or obvious something bad was going to happen, and that nobody should be surprised by it

* His last few performance reviews at work were very poor, so the writing was on the wall and he shouldn’t have been surprised that he was fired.

on the chopping block – in danger of being fired, canceled, suspended, or ended

* If we don’t get that new client, we’re all on the chopping block.

to gain ground – to get better, increase, or improve slowly

* After months of saving every cent, we’re finally gaining ground in paying off our credit cards.

cult favorite – something that is extremely popular with a small group of people, but not very popular with the general public

* Every year, the local movie theater plays cult favorites, and people dress up in costume to see them.

to garner – to earn, collect, gather, or receive

* This author has garnered more awards than anyone else writing crime novels.

viewership – the number of people who regularly watch a TV show

* If we can increase the viewership for these programs, companies will pay more to advertise on our channel.

to be renewed – for a show or series to receive approval to start again in the next season with new episodes

* I can’t believe that show was renewed for another season. It’s awful!

hiatus – a break; a period of rest; a period of time when something does not happen

* Did you use this year as a hiatus from your academic responsibilities, or did you use it to conduct research?

to imply – to say something indirectly; to speak in a way that is not straightforward

* Yes, I said that her cooking was delicious, but I didn’t mean to imply that yours isn’t!

mid-season replacement – a show that is aired (was broadcasted) later in the season that when other shows began, presented as a substitute for another program that was not very popular

* If this mid-season replacement is popular, the studio will never film the old show again.

to get the ax – to be fired or canceled

* Hundreds of people will get the ax if the company decides to close that factory.

on (one’s) last legs – very tired and at the end of one’s life or project, expected to end soon

* This old car is on its last legs.

mark my words – a phrase used to make someone pay attention to what one is saying, especially when one is making a prediction about what will happen in the future

* Mark my words, that boy will be playing in the World Cup in a few years.

inane – nonsense; silly; stupid; foolish

* Who writes all these inane jokes? They aren’t even funny.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Amy mean when she says, “The writing was on the wall”?
a) The show had captions.
b) It was obvious that the show would be canceled.
c) The TV studio announced its decision on Facebook.

2. What does Amy mean when she says, “That show is on its last legs”?
a) The show has a very fast-moving plot.
b) The show is too expensive to film.
c) The show will be canceled soon.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
ratings

The word “ratings,” in this podcast, means information about how popular something is, especially about how many people view or participate in something: “You can learn a lot about a culture by studying which TV shows have the highest ratings.” An “approval rating” is a number that shows how many people think a politician is doing a good job: “The president’s approval rating decreased as unemployment increased.” A “credit rating” is a numerical score that indicates how much money one owes and whether one pays bills on time, often determining if one qualifies for a credit card or a loan: “Getting a mortgage to buy a home is almost impossible if you don’t have a good credit rating.” Finally, when talking about movies, the “rating” is a letter code that indicates whether they are appropriate for children: “They let their children watch movies only if they have a G or PG rating.”

to get the ax

In this podcast, the phrase “to get the ax” means to be fired or canceled: “If the budget continues to shrink, some very popular programs will get the ax.” Or, “Anyone who sells trade secrets to our competitors will immediately get the ax.” An “ax” or “axe” is a heavy metal tool with a sharp edge, attached to a wooden handle, used to cut down trees: “How many times did you have to swing the ax to cut down that maple tree?” The phrase “to have an ax to grind” means to have a strong opinion that motivates one’s words, actions, and behavior: “They lost their home in a foreclosure, and ever since then, they’ve had an ax to grind against banks and other financial institutions.”

Culture Note
The Longest-Running American TV Shows

Most TV shows have a short “lifespan” (the amount of time that something exists), but a few “appeal to” (are attractive and interesting for) many people for generations. These shows are renewed year after year, because they continue to have a large viewership and “attract” (bring in) advertisers.

The longest-running TV show in the United States is Meet the Press, which has been “on the air” (shown on TV) since 1947—that’s 66 years ago! Another news program, CBS Evening News, “follows on its tail” (is right behind it) with 65 years on the air.

With 59 years on the air, The Tonight Show is the longest-running “talk show” (a show where a host invites different guests to speak on different topics in each episode).

The longest-running “soap opera” (a TV show showing lives of very wealthy, very dramatic people and families) was Guiding Light, which was filmed for 57 years, from 1952 to 2009 with almost 16,000 episodes. It was actually even longer-running, because it “originally” (at first) started as a radio show “way back” (a long time ago) in 1937. A similar soap opera, As the World Turns, aired for 54 years, from 1956 to 2010 with almost 14,000 episodes.

Sesame Street is the longest-running children’s show, with more than 4,000 episodes filmed over the past 44 years. And the longest-running “game show” (a TV show where contestants compete to earn money and/or prizes) is The Price Is Right, which has produced more than 8,000 episodes since 1972.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c