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Turn out the lights? or can we build from zombies?

tv eats itself

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#1 offworlder

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 04:17 PM

he says he's only a tv crit for two years, but sounds like twenty; I like how this guy says what he has to say and I hope the NY and 'out on the coast' execs are reading:

...
' Over the last decade it became fashionable to say that TV was the new cinema. A comparison was made — and then made again — between the groundbreaking television of the '00s and the creative awakening that occurred in American movies in the '70s. It's not a bad analogy: In both cases a combination of bravery and desperation led to the empowerment of the sort of idiosyncratic hotheads the studios (and especially the corporations behind the studios) would normally prefer to suppress or avoid.2 But what's often left out is the second half of the story.3 Once Jaws hit and then Star Wars exploded, an age of experimentation quickly gave way to the age of blockbusters. Rather than use the newfound profits as a rising tide to lift all boats, studios treated these movies as a tsunami to wash all of the grit and interesting grease from their slates. In Hollywood, then and now, success doesn't beget success so much as it instills a deep and profound terror of failure.

Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead have had a similar effect on television today. That the former is uniformly excellent is almost beside the point; the wild popularity of the latter has proven as much. With their preexisting source material, their genre bona fides, and their ability to yadda-yadda the dull bits with exposed breasts and gushing blood, Thrones and Dead provide their networks with a commodity far more precious than Emmys: certainty. Originality and acclaim are nice, but reliable profits will always be preferred. Mad Men may have built AMC's house, but prestige comes with a price tag that the show's modest ratings can't support. It's those dependable, decomposing walkers that keep Sterling Cooper's lights on and the liquor bill paid.

That every network is now desperately watching the Thrones and chasing after the Dead isn't surprising.4 TV, like all mass media, moves with a herd mentality and there's plenty of room for genre indulgences all across the dial. When done right, as it is on Game of Thrones and BBC America's Orphan Black, sci-fi and fantasy can more than transcend the cultural ghetto to which snobs like me often resign them. When done wrong, as it has been so far on ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it can be deadly, a safe and stilted exercise in corporate brand extension that makes the wonder of the Marvel Universe feel as exciting as an hour spent filing TPS reports.

What ought to be concerning to everyone is the way this breathless quest to re-create the last big thing has left little to no room for what I'll call the medium-level show: series about people interacting in ways that don't involve swordplay or savagery; concepts not spun off from previous hits; dramas that can't be described via prestige mad libs (PERIOD + VICE = GREEN LIGHT).5 Truly original ideas are hard to come by, but they're even harder to get on the air, as executives increasingly reach for recognizable packages that save them the trouble of marketing or explanation. It's why the airwaves are stuffed with domesticated versions of international "formats" like The Killing and The Bridge, as if ideas and atmosphere could be imported as easily as a rattan chair.6 It's why the Batman-without-Batman Gotham is coming to Fox, why AMC is betting its future on a solo Saul Goodman and a second Walking Dead, and why the reign of unsmiling, morally compromised macho men is likely to continue on cable long after Low Winter Sun sets. This is the same stifling tale that played out in movies over the past few decades, as sequels and CGI Supermen pushed all the fresh stories about ordinary Clark Kents — and the writers dedicated to telling them — out of the multiplexes. Where did they go instead? Television. As TV surrenders itself completely to blockbuster mode, where will these stories go next?
'
BUT then there's this,
...
' One destination might be off of television entirely — at least the way we've long considered it. After testing the scripted waters with something borrowed (the prestige simulacrum House of Cards), upstart Netflix experienced its biggest success with the wholly original Orange Is the New Black, a delightfully unpredictable and diverse series that ticked no established boxes, trashed preconceived notions, and had been summarily rejected by all of the established networks. Eager to follow suit, Amazon this week gave pilot orders to promising, unconventional new projects from The X-Files creator Chris Carter and best-selling novelist Michael Connelly.7 The streaming services are now in the same situation the upper reaches of the cable dial were a few years ago: eager to make a splash and willing to cannonball into the unknown in order to achieve it. It's a spirit that has gone missing from the old-guard broadcasters, stuck as they are in a fearful limbo of their own making: cash-rich but content-poor.
'
;)
:harper:

http://www.grantland...d-tv-golden-age
"(Do you read what they say online?) I check out all these scandalous rumours about me and Elijah Wood having beautiful sex with each other ... (are they true?) About Elijah and me being boyfriend and boyfriend? Absolutely true. We've been together for about nine years. I wooed him. No I just like a lot of stuff - I like that someone says one thing and it becomes fact. It's kind of fun." --Dominic Monaghan in a phone interview with Newsweek while buying DVDs at the store. :D

#2 RJDiogenes

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 07:14 PM

Yeah, periods of innovation are always followed by periods of conformity and stagnation. The blockbuster mentality has ruled too long, but it's hard to see it ending when it continues to be financially successful.  There's no desperation in the movie biz to inspire creativity, and I think he overstates the innovation (if not the quality) of cable television. Maybe these new delivery systems like Netflix and Amazon and Hulu and so forth will inspire some more eccentricity and creativity, something like the direct market did in comics thirty years or so ago.
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#3 Sci-Fi Girl

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Posted 13 November 2013 - 08:12 PM

Quote

That every network is now desperately watching the Thrones and chasing after the Dead isn't surprising.4 TV, like all mass media, moves with a herd mentality and there's plenty of room for genre indulgences all across the dial. When done right, as it is on Game of Thrones and BBC America's Orphan Black, sci-fi and fantasy can more than transcend the cultural ghetto to which snobs like me often resign them. When done wrong, as it has been so far on ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., it can be deadly, a safe and stilted exercise in corporate brand extension that makes the wonder of the Marvel Universe feel as exciting as an hour spent filing TPS reports.

I must say I take offense at the last sentence (bolding mine).  Clearly, it's a matter of taste and personal opinion, but it's stated as an absolute.  And I couldn't disagree more with the statement.  It seems like the reviewer only skimmed the surface of the show, and ignored the more complex threads beneath the surface.  Then again, I generally take offense at the type of "snob" he admits to being, those who look down their noses at the things I like, without ever really knowing what they are missing.  As such, I find it hard to take anything this guy says seriously.  :disgust:

SFG

Edit to add:  In other words, if genre is not your thing, FINE, but that doesn't mean it's bad.

Edited by Sci-Fi Girl, 13 November 2013 - 08:20 PM.

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#4 G-man

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 06:27 AM

^^^ I recall reading an article in TVGuide re: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. which pretty much agreed with that statement.  It wasn't that the show was bad, it's just that it should be a lot better than it is.

Which echoes my feelings about the show.  I mean, the episodes are watchable but there aren't that many stand out episodes that address the issues that this show really should be focusing on.

/s/

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#5 RJDiogenes

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 08:00 PM

I love SHIELD just the way it is.  In fact, it's probably the show I most look forward to right now.  

I have little patience with mainstream critics, but at least this one has the presence of mind to know that he's a snob.  I've always been amused by those who think mainstream fiction-- which is defined by lack of imagination-- is inherently superior to genre fiction-- which is defined by an overabundance of imagination.  Kinda got it backwards there, kiddies.  :lol:
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