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Old April 20 2013, 08:49 PM   #57
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

the G-man wrote: View Post
Why don't these lists always include Twin Peaks, St. Elsewhere, Roseanne, Lost, Heroes, BattleStar Galactica?
Why should lists or articles about current quality TV shows contain shows that went off the year twenty years ago or shows that went off the rails before now?
Because it's about as certain as can be that some (or most) of the supposedly high-quality serials like Homeland or Game of Thrones or whatever will go off the rails by the end. If those old series, which were highly regarded at the time, can't be upheld as quality TV now,then currently running serials can't be, because we don't know yet if they are going to conclude successfully. Which means the jury is still out on the notion that there is still just as much high-quality TV, at least proportionately, as ever. An awful lot of supposedly high quality TV is open-ended serials.

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
People always think things were better in the good old days--and that there's too much dumb stuff on TV. As far back as 1961, the head of the FCC famously denounced network television as "a vast wasteland," full of brainless sitcoms, game shows, westerns, cop shows, cartoons, etc."

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the ancient Greeks complained that this year's tragedies weren't as good as the ones they grew up on:

"Who is this Sophocles hack anyway--and why in Zeus's name would anyone want to watch some guy rip his eyes out because he screwed his mother? Everything today is just sex, gore, and shock value. Talk about pandering to the lowest common denominator . . . ."

The more things change . . . .
Three comments. First, the tendency to forget the bad stuff is responsible for the impression the past was better.

Second, the limb broke. It was not just crotchety old Dionysia audiences that decided the likes of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes were indeed better. It was the many generations that found those dramatists worth remembering and the many others, not so much.

Third, "the more they stay the same" isn't true. Television news now has something like Fox News and commentators like Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. Daytime TV now has Judge Judy, Maury Povich, Jery Springer, not just soaps and game shows like Queen for a Day. Ted Mack Hour has turned into a money show. Another huge difference of course is the rise of reality TV. Yet another huge difference is the extraordinary rise of open-ended serialization. We may no longer be able truly to compare because things are in fact so different.

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
sidious618 wrote: View Post
Television shows are smarter than they've ever been before. The Sopranos, The Wire, Enlightened, Girls, Justified, The Shield etc. These shows couldn't have existed in the 70s or the 80s because networks needed to cater to such large audiences. Now that we have more options we can have smarter shows.
Amen. You don't even have to go for the prestige stuff. Nostalgia aside, does anybody really think that "Adam-12" or "Dragnet" was smarter than "CSI" or "Castle"? That "Medical Center" and "Marcus Welby" were better than "Grey's Anatomy"? That "Petticoat Junction" and "Gomer Pyle" were smarter than "The Big Bang Theory"? That "Charlie's Angels" and "The Love Boat" and "Three's Company" were smarter than the average episode of "The Americans" or "Lost Girl" or "Warehouse 13"?

Bottom line: there's more dumb stuff out there, but a lot more quality stuff as well.
I'm not at all certain that there is so much quality stuff available since so much of it is serials about which it is impossible to make even a preliminary judgment, much less one that can stand the test of even a few years time.

What I'm even less certain about is whether the issue is intelligence. Intelligence sadly has never kept anyone from playing the fool. Part of what we're really talking about is foolishness.

That caution made, I will be so bold as to say that the notion that Marcus Welby isn't as smart as Grey's Anatomy is a perilous judgment to make. Even worse, I declare that Gilligan's Island and Charley's Angels and Petticoat Junction are in fact "smarter" TV than Judgmental Judy or Storage Wars or Big Brother.
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