When Did TV Get So Good?

 Pages 1 2 NEXT
 

When Did TV Get So Good?

The 'Godfather gasp' has made it to television and this is a good thing.

Read Full Article

Isn't TV just going through the same thing that the movies experienced in the 60's?

TV has far more competition in the home now than it did even 15 years ago and so they are being more adventurous with allowing these interconnected shows that require a dedicated audience rather than the episodic TV of our youth.

Because I can not imagine any TV execs green lighting Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or the Walking Dead back in the 90's.

As someone who is far more interested in what is happening on TV than what is happening in film these days... glad you noticed?

It is worth noting that from a generalised perspective the advent of distribution platforms like Netflix and the technology to support them has been adapted far better by TV than it has been by the film industry. Whereas the latter has been fighting tooth and nail over ever concession and slight the former has almost embraced the "problem", often in spite of itself. Popular shows like True Detective, I just got done with the latest episode and was quite pleased, exist as global phenomenon partially because of how easy it is to get access to the content outside of its intended distribution zone and while we see more "Global" releases of big budget films these days than we did a decade ago (as far as I'm aware) there is still a very important language gap to overcome. The people following TV shows have bridged that masterfully, with accurate and relevant subtitles in languages as diverse as Swedish or Siamese being available for just about everything within the day of its airing.

To continue that point some of the biggest and most culturally "popular" TV of the last few years has been recorded and then distributed across with world with more efficiency than it would be possible for a larger corporate distribution system to achieve and this has only been helping their popularity and more importantly sales. Breaking Bad has _never_ been broadcast in the UK, ever, and was only available in the whole of the British Isles on TG4 the Gaelic channel based on the west of Ireland (with decent subs too). No cross-Atlantic broadcaster covered it either, this gap has actually resulted in the creation of premium channels across Europe the sole purpose of which is to rebroadcast American drama and comedy that we wouldn't otherwise get. Despite that gap, and before the release of the DVD's or the proliferation of availability on iTrunes or NetFlix, almost _everyone_ I knew and most of their friends had seen up to the most recent episode released in the US.

That is a large and primed market. One that is more motivated and interested in the product with almost no advertising dollars spent than the most outrageous budgets could possibly be generate for film. This is why TV is slowly migrating to the fore, not because they've fought off the pirates "harming the industry" but because they embraced them and in some cases almost used them to preload markets. DVD sales for Breaking Bad were off the charts here in the UK, heck I remember going to the cinema early last year and seeing an advertisement for the entire netflix service that almost exclusively focused on the fact that they had Breaking Bad. This isn't just benefiting critical darlings like Breaking Bad but also comparatively less well known shows like the aforementioned Brooklyn 99 which was so massively popular here, despite never actually being legally available, that it was immediately optioned for broadcast by several broadcasters as soon as they could.

Game of Thrones, Person of Interest(which based what I see on the seed/peer list regularly outshines everything in downloads) and other shows like that which have varying degrees of solid publicity and good broadcast ranges are getting massive boosts from a market of people who don't pay for it or generate any income in terms of advertising. The relative neutrality of broadcasters towards that group has actually buoyed the market to new heights.

Kumagawa Misogi:
Isn't TV just going through the same thing that the movies experienced in the 60's?

TV has far more competition in the home now than it did even 15 years ago and so they are being more adventurous with allowing these interconnected shows that require a dedicated audience rather than the episodic TV of our youth.

Because I can not imagine any TV execs green lighting Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad or the Walking Dead back in the 90's.

Precisely. There are so many TV shows now that some of them are just bound to be amazing.

Of those still on air, I watch plenty. But "Psych," "South Park," "Arrow," "Community," "Suits," "White Collar," "Brooklyn 99," and "Supernatural" are among my favorites.

strumbore:
MSNBC?
Really, Bob?

Shouldn't surprise you if you follow him on Twitter. He's very political.

TV has always been been that movies. It's just a shame it still clings to completely outdated business model.

strumbore:
MSNBC?
Really, Bob?

I hope you meant that as a joke. Otherwise, you mean to say you're genuinely surprised that Bob watches MSNBC (something I figured you would have picked up if you watched his videos) or you think Bob's revealing some sort of secret (which is about as closely kept as Victoria's), and I don't know which one is worse. And if that's the case, I hope you have some duct tape wrapped around your head because it may blow your mind to find out that fish swim, grass is green, and fire is warm.

strumbore:
MSNBC?
Really, Bob?

Forget MSNBC. But fucking CNN?

MovieBob:

Political shop-talk banter, white suburban midlife ennui and familial melodrama are seen as innately smarter/worthier than superheroes or scifi/fantasy

There hasn't been a good, original sci-fi movie since The Matrix back in '99. And even then, TV has films beat. I mean, c'mon - Star Trek, X-Files, Babylon 5, Firefly... you can't beat that list.

At any rate, my favorite shows have to be True Detective, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones... and can I put in Top Gear?

Because Top Gear is so good.

It likely has a LOT to do with the fact that film has went REALLY down hill over the last decade or two and seemingly gets worse each year. The movie industry has become this ecosystem of serials and sequels that has overpowered development as a whole. It used to be hard enough to pitch a single film, nowadays you have to pitch not only the film itself but a franchise behind it so as the studio has faith the money will be rolling long enough for it to be worth their investment. Julie Delphi was recently bemoaning how there is no such thing as an indie scene in cinema any more for example.

So in this world where there is such desperation for the next big trilogy we see things like The Hobbit get strung out to encompass 3 films, or Disney has lined up an entire brigade of super soldiers and an impending army of clones So the days when a film was its own singular entity, are being strangled out of existence under the glut of big name blockbuster franchises.

Now this isnt to say TV is all that much better, but at least with television it actually lends itself to this sort of long arching continuity format and it can do it infinitely better than film can ever hope to. All the while TV still has with its smaller budgets and infinitely more vast broadcast space to fill, the capacity to appeal to more niche audiences and try riskier endeavors. In all honesty this is pretty basic things you would expect anyone who makes a career out of either medium would understand fluently.

Oh yeah and btw. I have never, nor would I ever watch the Godfather and would likely slap the taste out of any mouth that would even suggest that is something worth being shocked by.

This should be cool. I hope they are done Intermission style rather than AoS. I'm less interested in recaps with stream of conscience commentary than big picture, critical analysis. I'll still read it either way, and I assume AoS is a more efficient use of time.

Wow, Moviebob is really covering the board of popular culture. Films, Television, Games and Skits. All he needs is Songs and Anime to get the works.

Crazy Zaul:
TV has always been been that movies. It's just a shame it still clings to completely outdated business model.

A perpetually outdated model in that what was popular in movies 5 years ago is what's popular on TV today. Call it trickle-down geekonomics. Almost every show on the CW is derivative of something that had a boon of popularity with the Gen Y crowd. Vampires, check, superheroes, check, serialized romcom, check and check. Starz had a Spartacus TV series that ripped off all the stylization and action of 300. HBO's popular series Game of Thrones and True Blood are both book adaptations of the fantastical variety, a trend that again first really gained momentum in film with Harry Potter, Twilight, and Lord of the Rings.

Probably the one thing I truly like with cultural trends from the film industry filtering down into television is that it's making high brow sci fi cool again. With movies like Oblivion, District 9, and Elysium comes the idea that fiction that makes you think is a safe investment. So now we have Almost Human and Defiance, both series set in the future, one of the high tech, urban variety, the other post-apocalyptic, giving us storylines that would have easily felt at home on Babylon 5 or Star Trek in the past.

I think this is a good idea, although it'd be nice if he could expand at some point beyond primetime dramas /action series. For instance, I'd like to hear his take on Steven Universe.

Also probably fun? An extended look at the ridiculous evolution of Law and Order: SVU.

RA92:

There hasn't been a good, original sci-fi movie since The Matrix back in '99. And even then, TV has films beat. I mean, c'mon - Star Trek, X-Files, Babylon 5, Firefly... you can't beat that list.

The most recent one on that list was Firefly 2002... You're also forgetting movies like Elysium, District 9, Inception, The Cell, Pitch Black, Titan AE, Donnie Darko, Evolution, Final Fantasy (I had been leaving out movies based on an existing franchise, therefore not original, but since this one had nothing to do with the games, it fits), The One, 28 Days Later, Equilibrium, Minority Report, Reign of Fire, Paycheck, Appleseed, Primer, District 13, Immortel, Night Watch... i'll stop there, but there were plenty of good original movies since 1999. There were even a few outstanding ones.

Nimzabaat:

RA92:

There hasn't been a good, original sci-fi movie since The Matrix back in '99. And even then, TV has films beat. I mean, c'mon - Star Trek, X-Files, Babylon 5, Firefly... you can't beat that list.

The most recent one on that list was Firefly 2002... You're also forgetting movies like Elysium, District 9, Inception, The Cell, Pitch Black, Titan AE, Donnie Darko, Evolution, Final Fantasy (I had been leaving out movies based on an existing franchise, therefore not original, but since this one had nothing to do with the games, it fits), The One, 28 Days Later, Equilibrium, Minority Report, Reign of Fire, Paycheck, Appleseed, Primer, District 13, Immortel, Night Watch... i'll stop there, but there were plenty of good original movies since 1999. There were even a few outstanding ones.

When I said original, I meant genre-defining like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Terminator, Matrix etc. I admit to be being a bit facetious when I said no good sci fi movies have been out the past decade, but in your list the only ones original I would say are Donnie Darko, Primer, District 9, Minority Report and Inception (okay that's quite a few). A few of them I wouldn't classify as sci fi (Final Fantasy, Night Watch). And Elysium was just terrible. As for Appleseed, I counter with Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. And if we're talking anime as well, I can also include Planetes, Ergo Proxy, Serial Experiments Lain, Cowboy Bebop, Texhnolyze etc. :)

As for my original list, I was actually just making a comparison with 90's stuff, otherwise I would have included Defiance and Almost Human, both pretty recent.

I guess I wish there were more sci fi TV series, because I tend to enjoy the pacing of a long-running overarching arcs. Unless it's something niche like Donnie Darko, movies just tend to go for more bombast than substance. I like that sometimes (hello Pacific Rim), but loathe it when something cerebral like Star Trek is turned into an action wankfest that are the modern J J Abrams flicks.

Well, this sounds like it'll be fun. For a while now I've preferred television as a medium to film, it lends itself better to the long story arcs, and character development of large casts, things that film just can't do, because of time constraints. Of course, television didn't used to do those all that much either, but over the past decade or two the old formula of returning to status quo after every episode (so as not to intimidate new/casual viewers) has fallen more and more out of favour and given way to serialized dramas. Comedies are still usually sitcoms though, but then I don't really care for them, so whatever.

Somehow TV doesn't seem to be as burdened by committees or coldly calculated money grabbing casting choices and soothing tropes. Maybe I'm deluding myself, but creativity seems to be running on a looser leash on our TV's. TV shows seem less fearful of having fun and being insolent, which is right up my sensitivity alley (boom! metaphorical innuendo phrasing!)

Ironically, I haven't turned on my TV in months, yet I'm watching more TV than ever. Even cable companies hijacking sports as part of their exclusivity deals has driven me away from the living room box. But the quality of some shows, is just too good for me to ignore.

I've always been more of a comedy man, I find comedy clever and cheeky, as opposed to manipulating and hawking on our human weaknesses for a heart-string tug. And TV is just the place for the sharpest writers and their unbridled buffoons. Here to follow, pardon the form, a quick heap of my own stash:

Brooklyn 99, which is just excellent, you mentioned it, hopefully you'll drawl on about it soon because I was hooked from the moment I saw it. It's one of those instant classics. Joe Lo Truglio is a master jester, such range and depth.

BroadCity is finally a show about human women! Real human women as if they were regular people! I couldn't believe it, but it's true. Turns out when it comes to dealing with living in the city on your own, women are just like men. Who knew!?

Community is sensational, I'm just dropping names here. It's just relentlessly witty, dense rapid fire comedy with penchant for the absurd and over the top. It's too good for a teaser paragraph.

Portlandia with punk-rocking, Sleater Kinney's Carrie, Brownstein and SNL's Fred Armisen is just tone perfect. And the tone is indescribably hysterical. Both are true comedic geniuses on the show, it's marvelous to behold that this show exists, in form and concept and that it is executed so perfectly.

Party Down from a while back, it's still one of the best sitcoms I've seen, and so many stars have come out of that show, truly a lightning-in-a-bottle little run they had.

New Girl boasts a ridiculously free style ensemble improv flow going for it. It's some sort of funny banter parkour.

Of course setting the trail ablaze, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia came out of nowhere and was such a fresh air of decay and human misery, such vile endearing scumbags, in the first seasons making clever, poignant social commentaries without losing a comedic beat.

The inexplicable hilariousness of John C. Reily's performance as the titular doctor Steve Brule in "Check it Out! With Dr. Steve Brule". Inexplicable to your friends that is, some will get it immediately, some will never.

Remember Flight Of the Conchords? NewsRadio before that, in the 90s!

Eastbound and Down is easily the most hilarious opera I've seen, unfurling in 4 acts nonetheless! It's truly a grandiose arc and tale of honour, pride, excess, love, family, everybody needs to see to coarsest opera ever made.

How about oversees with Peep Show, That Mitchell and Webb Look, The Mighty Boosh (!!!!!!)

Or adult oriented Animation!? Archer, Frisky Dingo, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Regular Show, to name a few.

Look some of those up if you're into clever, insolent, well written, outlandish comedy. You're in for a treat!
Somehow intelligent rebels have found their way into TV's realm, and it's a privileged time to be an spectator.
Looking forward to more Movie Bob (Chipman!) editorials on what is one of the best comedic media out there!

My wife has taken to watching Arrow.

I started making a game of counting how many seconds passed between cuts- changes in camera angle etc.

It was a rare bird when more than five seconds passed between one cut and another. In action scenes, especially in early episodes, it was not an infrequent occurrence to watch thirty seconds pass with hardly a full second of continuous footage.

I mean, the writing is also cliche-ridden and contrived; the acting is largely wooden, and the characters are largely unlikable, shallow, and uninteresting.

But it's the editing that threatens to give me a migraine.

However, it does feature lots of chiseled people in dramatic lighting.

(Got to love heroes who go off about how killing is never their first option and then go about shooting henchmen in the chest left, right, and center...)

...Okay, rant over.

So bob about that weight you were talking about needing to lose... If you plan to review movies, talk about video games in a spoofy power rangers esque format, talk about whatever pops in your head for that week, write two columns for the escapist AND NOW add a 3rd column that involves you reviewing TV shows, I have to say you better put a treadmill in your living room and learn to type at a brisk jog because I don't see how you can do all that and maintain things like sleep or a social life or even stay connected with your family and loved ones.

TheMemoman:

Or adult oriented Animation!? Archer, Frisky Dingo, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Regular Show...

Don't forget Venture Bros.

Never forget Venture Bros.

TV shows are the best. Movies - well, they hype them up for a year in advance and then you have to spend 2 (or 3 or 4) hours sitting in a smelly room with 500 of other people. Can't even take a bathroom break.

With a TV show, you can tell a story over tens of hours. That's why I always thought TV series are the best medium to make from games. I always wanted to see a Half-Life TV series. A 2 hour movie can't do justice. Games and TV have a similar fell to them - you play/watch them at home often at the same screen, and the pacing is rather similar (i.e. changes from shitty/boring to spectacular quite often).

It's also obvious that as movies get so insanely expensive to make, creators move their attention to something more modest. TV series are perfect. So, yay.

Overall series have inherent advantages over movies:

1) you can tell/experience a longer, more elaborate story
2) if you like something, you don't need to wait 2 years for an inevitably worse sequel
3) artists get more freedom (or so it seems)
4) series don't rely on hyper-bombastic scenes in order to sell (see: movie trailers)

Simply, getting people to the movies is getting more difficult. Serving them entertainment in their home is simpler and more effective, so it all makes sense.

Sometimes I think society kind of forgot that TV is the younger medium. It makes sense that it is only now coming into full maturity, having long been seen as inferior to movies for storytelling. I imagine we'll go through the same thing with video games at some point.

Wait, wait... I almost read right past the most important message in this article: more moviebob content for me? Yessssssss!

I've never seen The Godfather (except for one scene which may have been in a sequel in which an old guy with an orange peel in his teeth chases a child in a garden and then has a heart attack or something).

I've never really seen TV being treated this way. Me and my friends might recommend a TV show to each other but there's never any shock or outrage from not having seen it. Maybe it's because we only watch TV shows through online streaming.

"So, then. When The Escapist asked me if I wanted to take up writing a regular TV column (in addition to the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. recaps, which will continue as their own thing), I ultimately said yes."
Looking forward to this.

On the subject however, I have to agree. I'm constantly told by my coworkers (all about 20 years older than me) that I should be watching walking dead, game of thrones, house of cards, etc. but they're really not my thing, I'd really rather sit down with an episode of star trek than a dry character drama. If I'm watching a show where the setting is a zombie apocalypse, I want that to be the focus of the show, not just the backdrop to a soap opera.

Pretty sure I'll be disagreed with for saying this, but there you go. Opinions, etc.

Coakle:
This should be cool. I hope they are done Intermission style rather than AoS. I'm less interested in recaps with stream of conscience commentary than big picture, critical analysis. I'll still read it either way, and I assume AoS is a more efficient use of time.

I hope it's the same sort of thing. It's kind of weird that he didn't drop a title or a release schedule, but with luck he'll do that soon (and maybe get this column on the Escapist calendar).

I find myself more interested in TV shows than I do movies

There was a time when good acting and good cinematography was only found in movies because of low TV budgets, but that seems to have changed, and because of the increase in quality, I find it far more interesting to watch TV shows who have far more time to tell a story

I have a far more memorable time watching shows like The Wire, Band of Brothers, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Game of Thrones and Archer than any movie I have seen the last decade or so

strumbore:
MSNBC?
Really, Bob?

I'm not that surprised, Moviebob has let slip his political bias before

Remus:
Almost every show on the CW is derivative of something that had a boon of popularity with the Gen Y crowd.

It almost feels like an opposite to me. TV always had TV series like Buffy, Rome, Xena, Star Trek and especially a multitude of superhero series before film has discovered these properties are cool enough to be sellable. And if anything, I'd say Battlestar Galactica has paved the way for modern intelligent drama sci-fi. Although it's true that the shows are now more movie-like in their execution but that is the natural development in visual story-telling.

Meh as long as every 45min show has roughly 20min of advertisment in between TV can go f* itself.
The only reason i use my TV nowadays is to hook up my laptop via hdmi and watch something on the big screen - or DvDs.

Yes, there are a few good, recent series, but nothing that really makes me vomit rainbows and frown upon people that haven't seen the respective series. It seems to be a trend everywhere that people hype things they like - video games, shows, music, books. Guess part of the story are the social networks that try to awake the need to share your experiences with everyone. A series is something you spend more time with than a movie, so it will be shared more, aswell.

To be fair, I do like it a lot when I get more time to know the characters in a story, so that's a plus for series. Movies on the other hand have the advantage of perfectionist finetuning, more eye for the detail, so they can deliver another level of experience if done right. In the end the format must fit the story, not the other way around.

I can understand missing like 99% of these shows people rave over, but missing Breaking Bad or Banshee is just criminal.

Maybe Game of Thrones, but I can understand people not wanting to jump into a fantasy show.

valium:
I can understand missing like 99% of these shows people rave over, but missing Breaking Bad or Banshee is just criminal.

I actually haven't seen either of them because the premise does in no way interest me

I think with the lower budget, more creative control, and long-term planning that Hollywood seems incapable of making if not tied to a major blockbuster gives Television a lot more freedom to work and do stuff around.

Joss Wheadon had his beginnings with Buffy and that gave him the experience to make the Avengers. Seems logical to me.

The thing that makes all these tv "gasps" so much worse is that the Godfather is a 3 hour movie-why not set aside an afternoon to experience a cinematic classic. But the show Breaking Bad, for example, had a 62 episode run in a 1-hour timeslot. So your friend insisting that you simply have to watch it is asking you to devote nearly 8 full-time work days to a work of entertainment-or they wont even talk to you about tv.

Honestly, I don't watch TV hardly at all. Mostly because the amount of time needed to get into a series,especially one that already has been going for a couple of seasons. I don't have the time to binge on a series and catch up anymore, though I suppose if I had been watching from the beginning and just watching the new episode weekly instead of waiting for netflix or box set releases it would be easier to digest. But as I said, I can't be bothered to catch up to most of this stuff.

The one exception I made is Game of Thrones. I have all three seasons on disc, but am only partway through season 2 D: That's how little time I have.

 Pages 1 2 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here