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Old April 20 2013, 05:54 PM   #46
the G-man
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

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?
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Old April 20 2013, 06:49 PM   #47
Ryva Brall
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

Do you think people have just become accustomed to a lower standard of television? Some of the clips I've seen on "The Soup" of shows like "Moonshiners", "Duck Dynasty", and "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" are just embarrassingly bad. It makes me wonder: who is being entertained by this? And would people have been entertained by it twenty or thirty years ago? Or would they have been appalled?

Maybe we're becoming desensitized to stupidity.
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Old April 20 2013, 06:57 PM   #48
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

Ryva Brall wrote: View Post
My friend and I were talking about this the other day. When we were growing up, channels like Discovery, TLC, and the History Channel were chock-full of interesting, educational shows. Now, I'm only twenty-eight, so this wasn't that long ago. But now it seems that all of these channels have dropped their educational stuff in favor of crap reality shows like "Ice Road Truckers" and "Pawn Stars" and "Overhaulin'". (Oh, and my favorite? "Ancient Aliens". Aliens have about as much business on the History Channel as they do in an Indiana Jones movie.) Even Animal Planet has suffered this decline. Nearly all of the nature documentaries have been replaced by reality shows.

There's even an actual term for this "process of dumbening", as Lisa Simpson would say. It's called network decay, and it basically means the transition of a TV network's programming in order to appeal to a wider (and apparently less intelligent) audience. The disturbing thing is, it's the most mindless and inane of these shows that have the highest ratings. So what does this say about us as a society? Is TV making us dumber? Or is TV only getting dumber because we're getting dumber?
It's a cycle. If we consume television, and television never informs, then we remain uninformed. Therefore, we get stupider. Therefore, we stop watching shows that don't appeal to us. Therefore, we end up with stupider shows. It takes someone breaking the cycle. And it starts with the consumer. We have made learning uninteresting and mass appeal has to cover kids, too. With distracted and tired parents.

I like it when a show uses a word I have to look up or references something that requires me to understand the material. It's entertaining. Looking for plot, looking for character development, it's all a part of the experience. If I just sit down and watch without having to think, most of the time, I won't be able to keep my attention. This is not to pat myself on the back, just proving that it can be done.
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Old April 20 2013, 07:03 PM   #49
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

Ryva Brall wrote: View Post
Do you think people have just become accustomed to a lower standard of television? Some of the clips I've seen on "The Soup" of shows like "Moonshiners", "Duck Dynasty", and "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" are just embarrassingly bad. It makes me wonder: who is being entertained by this? And would people have been entertained by it twenty or thirty years ago? Or would they have been appalled?

Maybe we're becoming desensitized to stupidity.
Perhaps some people watch it for its "train wreck" value?
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Old April 20 2013, 07:25 PM   #50
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

Ryva Brall wrote: View Post
Do you think people have just become accustomed to a lower standard of television? Some of the clips I've seen on "The Soup" of shows like "Moonshiners", "Duck Dynasty", and "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" are just embarrassingly bad. It makes me wonder: who is being entertained by this? And would people have been entertained by it twenty or thirty years ago? Or would they have been appalled?

Maybe we're becoming desensitized to stupidity.
I doubt that anyone is actively seeking these shows out to watch them. People watch them because they're on and they need background noise.
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Old April 20 2013, 07:26 PM   #51
Greg Cox
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

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 . . . .
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Old April 20 2013, 07:27 PM   #52
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

Ryva Brall wrote: View Post
Do you think people have just become accustomed to a lower standard of television? Some of the clips I've seen on "The Soup" of shows like "Moonshiners", "Duck Dynasty", and "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" are just embarrassingly bad. It makes me wonder: who is being entertained by this? And would people have been entertained by it twenty or thirty years ago? Or would they have been appalled?

Maybe we're becoming desensitized to stupidity.
Shows like Talk Soup are just regurgitating this stuff. Laughing at it is still consuming it, and probably in the same manner a lot of the people who watch this stuff get a kick out of it. Some time back I decided to drop out on celebrity/reality shit and shows that dwell on them. I'm not perfect or completely isolated from it but I've curbed it where I can.
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Old April 20 2013, 07:28 PM   #53
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

I mentioned game shows earlier...that's an area where the good old days actually WERE better. Oh, how I long for the game show era of my youth...Name That Tune, the REAL Price is Right, Tic Tac Dough, The [insert dollar value here that always seemed to change like every six weeks] Pyramid, The Gong Show, Match Game (Gene Rayburn: like a boss), Press Your Luck (Big bucks! Big bucks! No whammies!), Card Sharks...
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Old April 20 2013, 07:36 PM   #54
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

no seriously everyone, watch some BBC4. i'm sure you can find it somewhere no matter your location. you'll be like 'i need some dumb tv to cool my brain' afterwards.
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Old April 20 2013, 07:41 PM   #55
Greg Cox
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

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.
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Old April 20 2013, 07:43 PM   #56
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

Here's one argument for TV shows always being stupid:

Laugh tracks.
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Old April 20 2013, 08:49 PM   #57
stj
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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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Old April 20 2013, 08:49 PM   #58
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

jayceee wrote: View Post
Gil T.Azell wrote: View Post
That happen when they approved the first reality show, and was confirmed when Jersey Shore went on the air.
What was the first reality show, as we have known it?

(The first "reality show" I watched was COPS, back in the late 1980's).
That would be An American Family, which aired on PBS in 1973.
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Old April 20 2013, 08:58 PM   #59
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

stj wrote: View Post
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.
And the 1930s had Father Coughlin on the radio, sympathizing with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, and spreading all sorts of anti-Semitic claptrap. The more things change, the more they do stay the same.
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Old April 20 2013, 09:04 PM   #60
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Re: Have we witnessed the death of intelligent TV?

Guy Gardener wrote: View Post
The Sopranos: Cancelled a decade ago.
The Wire: Cancelled a decade ago.
Enlightened: Cancelled 5 minutes ago.
Girls: Self Indulgent.
Justified: Meh?
The Shield: Cancelled a decade ago.
None of these were cancelled except for Enlightened and none of these were cancelled a decade ago. If we're talking about television history then all these shows are babies.
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