Have television shows finally surpassed movies?

Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Lady Day, May 9, 2014.

  1. Hemingway Jones

    Hemingway Jones I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Television at its best is a long form of story telling that allows for much deeper character and situational development. We are in a new golden era of the form and the rise of the television auteur. This was heralded by The Sopranos and it had affected every great show since. The problem Aries when the networks or creators exercise too much control and what would have been a tight neatly told story becomes overly protracted. Think of the budget cuts in series two of The Walking Dead that stranded the cast on the dreaded farm or this season's bifurcated run of Mad Men.

    Another problem is when the creators give us what they think we want and it is the opposite of what we actually want. Series three of Homeland is the perfect example. (possible Spoiler) They mistakenly thought that we cared about Brody and Carrie's relationship. Series one and two were brilliant and series three fizzled.

    A similar thing happened with Sherlock, with the quality of series three dipping a bit because Gatiss and crew thought that we wanted Sherlock to become more human. No, we did not; we wanted strong and interesting stories. Still a wonderful show though, thanks to Cumberbatch and Freeman.

    Great shows that stand out to me:
    Battlestar Galactica, who would have thought that campy Star Wars rip-off source material would lead to an awesome rumination on religion and paranoia is post-9/11 America.
    Sherlock - 3 films per year, awesomely compelling characters and clever allusions to the source material.
    True Detective - Some of the most perfect and atmospheric television that I have ever seen. Matt M. Was amazing and compelling.
    Mad Men - wonderfully creative writing but the show is about three years past it's prime. This year has been amazing with Monolith standing out as one of the best episodes every, but only because it was laden with references to Kubrick and 2001. It was a reminder of everything that show could be, sometimes was, and usually missed.
     
  2. Lady Day

    Lady Day I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    We will never know what happened the Cooper! I just want him to be happy!
     
  3. Old Rogue

    Old Rogue Practically Family

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    Sadly, they're aren't any arthouse theaters in my area. Just the multiplexes. I rarely go to the movies for the same reasons that everyone has been giving in this thread.
     
  4. Touchofevil

    Touchofevil

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    I agree. Right from the start, he was my favorite character. I had a hard time following the show as it bounced from time slot to time slot. It was almost as if the powers that be did not want the show to succeed.
    :D
     
  5. Lily Powers

    Lily Powers Practically Family

    The only film I've been interested in seeing lately is the documentary The Galapaos Affair: Satan Came to Eden - The header describes it as "Darwin meets Hitchcock," and it's punctuated with some great archival photos and home movies from 1929 - 1934 to chronicle the true story. The diaries left behind are read by actors and actresses. In fact, I settled down with tub of popcorn and a few other like-minded souls and enjoyed the matinee showing the other day. A well done film. Otherwise, the big screen has been a big disappointment. It seems that movies are less about the story and characters and more about the action and buzz.

    The Stanford Theater in Palo Alto always shows double features of Golden Age films and it's great to see them on the big screen. Yet, the minute the curtain goes down for the intermission between the 1st and 2nd films, the setting in this wonderful, 1925 theater is oddly aglow in blues and greens as people pull out their cells to check what part of the modern world has passed them by while they stepped back in time for 90-minutes to watch a movie.

    As far as TV, I agree that it seems to offer better, more creative and intelligent programs. I'm mad about BBC's Orphan Black.. It has grabbed me since the first episode in Season 1 last year and has not disappointed in Season 2 at all. And the PBS mysteries always make me happy: Father Brown is especially unique.
     
  6. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    The rumour mill has it that Lynch is currently roughing out a new Twin Peaks, but, eh.... I don't want it. Too big a danger of doing something awful - the original is perfect, it's been too long, keep it as it is. Still... at least oldd Coops would look exactly right (look at him now, and look at the 25-years-hence sequences in the Black Lodge - it's scary just how accurately they predicted what a 25-years-older Cooper would look like!). I rewatched it on DVD at the start of 2012, all episodes across a period of maybe six weeks. Uterly incredible. Completely timeless. I think there's one small plotline when someboy leaves town and misses saying good bye to the others, something that these days woul be completely avoided by the use of mobile telephony, but that could equally have been explained away by the lack of signal - everything would still "work today, the whole thing is so utterly timeless. Especially impressive when you consider when it was made - 1990/91, when it was essentially still the Eighties in the US. IMO, the look of most Eighties television has dated faster and worse than that from any decade at any point in televisual history. Yes, including the much-maligned Seventies.


    Netflix funding and making its own shows, and attracting big names to it, is the most exciting development in the "television" format in the last decade.

    World War Z's big handicap, imo, was the Star Name. I enjoyed it a lot (not a patch on TWD, no, but it had its contribution to the genre - the budget it had allowing the depiction of a zombie plague on a scale we've never seen before. I felt it was worth it for those shots of them piling up against that wall like ants alone; the idea of the terminally ill person being "safe" from the zombies was a cute addition to the genre), but it lacked the tension of a good Romero picture because we all knew it was Hollywood A List fodder, and they won't kill off the Big Star. Still.... overall, not a bad attempt at putting a narratvie around a book that doesn't have a single narrative, being simply a collection of vignettes.

    What kills so much cinema these days, imo, is this damned notion of giving something easy to a mainstream audience. I've lost count of the number of films with real potential that are destroyed by an implausible, shoe-horned in happy ending. Of course this has been going on for years (Breakfast at Tiffany's ruined itself that way), but it seems especially prevalent now.

    Yes, the Lost effect. It's the age-old story of the ruination of creative arts by free-market capitalism. Television is littered with shows that were unnaturally prolonged. Cheers shouldn't have lasted more than a season, Frasier ran for years after they jumped the shark by getting Niles and Daphne together; Friends should have made it past the pilot. Too many others to mention. As long as the ratings keep coming in, there's pressure to keep it going, even if there's nothing new left to do ("we've run out of ideas - let's do the 'Monica used to be fat' joke. Again.") or say. All the best television ends when it has finished, allowing for natural story arcs. I think in the UK we're lucky in that respect because of the lasting influence of shows like Fawlty Towers; in comedy especially, everybody wants to keep it short, sharp, six to twelve episodes per series, only three or so at max. (There are aberrations of course - like Last of the Summer Wine, which has run forever.... though in a very real sesne itg only ever had one episode...).

    I wasn't aware of that... actually, I liked it - that series was great for character development. A lot of folks did complain that it lacked enough zombie action, though (much as I adore the genre) it isn't really about the zombies. As the source material makes clear, it is the living who are truly the walking dead. I'm going to have to start, from Season three, buying it on disc to watch. I was going to do it anyhow, but I was waiting for the box set when they wrap it up in the end. Unfortunately, the free to air channel that was showing it has decided not to bother from Series 3 onwards, and I won't have subscription tv in the house, so...

    Yes, all the best television (and cinema - thinking here especially of how the studio ruined the original cinematic release of Little Shop of Horrors with that stupid, stupid "happy" ending that they shoe-horned in at the behest of a focus group. I refused to buy it on disc for years until they corrected that) is that which refuses to give in to the "fans" and give them what they want, but instead serves the story. The final series of Ashes to Ashes, in denying the demands of what I understand are referred to by the young people as "shippers", was vastly superior to what it might have been.

    The first episode of the third series was grand, but after that... Oh dear. I suppose Moffat got bored of ruining Doctor Who and decided he needed to destroy Sherlock too. It was a prime case of Moffat doing his "Look at me, aren't I so clever?" routine that, as ever, wasn't anywhere near as clever as he thought and just didn't work. The final episode was that to such an extreme I'm not sure I want to see any more of it, unless Moffat is no longer involved. Some nice ideas, but an utterly unconvincing ending. I agree that a major part of the problem was that Sherlock was given human feelings (not in the obviously supposed to be play-acting way in the second episode, but in the third one) and actions. Moffat is just a lazy and ego-centric writer who thinks he is far, far better than he could ever hope to be.
     
  7. Ernest P Shackleton

    Ernest P Shackleton One Too Many

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    This. And the way the process is set up for movies is killing the art form. Everything is passed through test audiences with controller boxes, then editing all the points that don't register at a certain level, ultimately defying an organic experience. Everything built around the sound bite that is hoped to be tweeted and passed around social media. It's always been business, but now movies are giant marketing commercials; at worst for products, but at best for themselves. On and on and on. Television is still allowed to breathe on its own, and the actors aren't required to do 12 months of press junkets all over the world. The situation is drawing some of the best and best, new talent. They can have a life, not be put under the microscope, and still be involved in something functioning at a high creative quality. And ticket prices...

    And all this business speak and limitations hasn't fostered writers. All of this is based around writing, and Hollywood has shot itself in the foot by bean counting and not rewarding writing. Remakes, re-interpretations of already-told stories, etc etc. They just want to make quick money and keep the machine rolling. One of the consequences has been the lost craft of storytelling and writing. And if you're a young person who is used to experiencing life in sound bites and prefers distilled MP3 encoding, and if you're the example of the type of writer they want, then the product is going to represent that type of processing. The kids are the ones spending all the money. Throw hashtags on the screen, and they don't care. It's their world. It's what they know. It drives the rest of us crazy.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  8. Lady Day

    Lady Day I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Very true. I hate tag lines on movie posters, product placement in movies, and telling the whole story in trailers. Movies are now one long trailer set on looking good without much to think about. Which hurts because I love stories. I love how they are constructed, told, how a character deals with the conflict, if the story is honest enough to tell a true ending as opposed to a happy one…all of that stuff is gold!
     
  9. I don't understand the antipathy to Sherlock in series 3, tbh. Part for the problem with the first two series is that they made him too robotic, even for those early Holmes stories. He was by quite some margin the weakest character in those two series, up until the first part of Reichenbach.

    Re-read the stories is all I can say. Fact is, after Reichenbach Holmes is portrayed by Doyle as a chastened character, much more human, much more solicitous of Watson's approval and careful of his feelings. Watson's marriage is another thorn that hurt Holmes and led to loneliness etc. that only heightened this "increased humanity" of the character. The late Holmes is a far superior character to the reasoning robot of the early stuff. The humanity was always there, but wasn't written or plotted very well by Doyle, and when he made Holmes return, he wrote a much more rounded character.

    At least, that's what I read into the stories, and was quite glad that someone reflected that on screen. This along with: 1) Watson not a bumbling idiot as typically portrayed (outside the Brett series); 2) Lestrade not a complete ****ing sub-mensch; 3) Mycroft sinister, not patriarchal; 4) Moriarty absurd; 5) Mrs Hudson a worthwhile character, not just a foil; have made the series wonderful
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2014
  10. Lady Day

    Lady Day I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    IIiiiiiiiiii don't know if I would call TWD brilliant. At all. I read the comic, and one of the show's largest failures is its chasm sized lack of emotional connections between the characters. That is all the comic is about. The violence and zombies are secondary. The show seems to have replaced human connection with the show's 'artistic conceptual emotion,' of it-is the best way I can describe it. Their nearly Tolken-esque lack of sexuality in the show frustrates me to no end.
     
  11. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    I agree and am hoping the model (which includes the need to have a "big" opening weekend - no more can a movie build an audience once it is out) soon brakes - not enough people show up anymore to the openings (at some point, people will get tired of seeing the same action-hero-saves-the-world-through special-effects movie) - and they have to figure out a new (which will be more of an old) way of doing business. If the result is less overall money in Hollywood (owing to less "big" openings), but more singles and doubles (smart, well-made, intelligent-script-driven movies that take much less to make, but then, need less revenue to make a profit) type of movies - we'll have better movies, more of them and while the gross economics will have shrunk (again, less cost to make / less revenue / still profitable), the end result will be better.

    Many industries have shrunk their way back to profitability and more stability (or at least less instability), albeit at a lower gross revenue and profit level. The steel and clothing-made-in-the-US are both smaller industries than they were in their heydays, both have less gross revenue (adjusted for inflation), but both are now (for the most part) profitable at a smaller scale. Both also make better, more value-added products (again, overall) today than they did in their mass-produced heydays. Maybe this will be Hollywood's future.
     
  12. Hemingway Jones

    Hemingway Jones I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Baron, My Friend,

    First let me state that I love the show and all seasons and to say that season three dipped is like saying that The Cieling of The Sisteen Chappell is a dip for Michaelangelo because it is a bit busy.

    But I exaggerate, when I look at a show, I take source material into consideration, but I place more weight on the rules that a show established for itself. First episode we get the "highly functioning sociopath" concept and this is what I love about Cumberbatch's (Gatiss' by extension, and Moffat too, I suppose) take on Sherlock. Having him act too human without suitable progression would be a mistake, I think. Where season three took place along that line is arguable.

    I would assume that I see it as a bit beyond the line and you do not. Fair point. He certainly used his humanity to manipulate his girlfriend to get into the tower and so in that regard he was behaving as expected for me, but in the moments when he struggled with his new found humanity and the emphasis on it seemed a bit off-balanced from the mysteries to me. I would just to see the show tip too much into Buddy comedy territory, like the extended bachelor party scene.

    Perhaps this is similar to a House/Wilson dynamic. I can live with that. I still love the show. I just don't want to see too much emphasis on a kindler gentler Sherlock when there are very clever mysteries to be solved as there were along all three series.

    My Dear Edward,

    The farm for me was just too much, "should we-shouldn't we" debating, Shane head rubs, Dale-face, and the vacillations of Rick's decisiveness. This show too often substitutes conflict for character development. Still so much fun to watch.
     
  13. Ernest P Shackleton

    Ernest P Shackleton One Too Many

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    I agree, and I've watched TWD from moment one. I truly enjoy it, but it is far from extraordinary. It's solid, quality TV, and it represent what, I believe, should be par for the course. If you can't create a show at least this good, then keep it in development until it is there. DISCLAIMER: I feel the same way about Breaking Bad. If not for the above average acting, the show was solid at best. Subsequent viewings reveal all its shortcomings in wheelbarrows. The great classics can be viewed again and again and again, as one key metric, and Breaking Bad falls apart like a battleship made with glue stick after even the second viewing. The third viewing will wear out your fast-forward button. TWD is what it is: nothing truly special, and if anything, it has all the shortfalls of many Hollywood products. The most glaring is its lack of constant character development and depth. It goes entire seasons with characters unmoved and stagnant, and given the situation, that makes little sense and is ultimately a waste of prime real estate to have huge strides in character development and richness of human experience. Your example of lack of sexuality is a great one, but the show reeks of one-dimensional perspective.
     
  14. Ernest P Shackleton

    Ernest P Shackleton One Too Many

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    It should be added this is why Kickstarter is becoming so important to artists. As insulting as it is for millionaires to be hitting up the audience for financial backing, it's come to just that. The studios exert so much control and clinical dictum to the process that the only way creativity can go less inhibited is to skip the studios in the early stages. The studios still control the distribution routes, so most movies aren't going to go completely unscathed, but at least the writers and directors can get that much closer to what they hope to produce before the financial teams strangle it all.
     
  15. Lady Day

    Lady Day I'll Lock Up Bartender

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    Breaking bad is not good for the story, its stellar for the character studies, which is SO RARE in network TV. Developing a character for the character's sake is something that never happens, so to have a show dedicate that much time to those characters just so we can know them is such a treat. I mean, you can describe Breaking Bad in two sentences, but the characters….

    TWD is a single viewing show for me. I look at it for the production values, then I pick it apart for all it's missed opportunities in character development. And I mean character development as a way to create a dynamic person, not just to advance the story, which is mostly what TWD does. I don't believe any emotional context associated with any of the characters. Especially after they completely threw away the Darrel and Carol relationship! You spend 4 years with a person and all you do is ask where they are once? Seriously?
     
  16. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    It has certain strengths still - it's just that the writing wa very poor in this last series, and shot full of plot holes. The final episode I recall being particularly bad on that front. It's Moffat being typicasl of his own form, though - his ego has also destroyed Doctor Who of late. Man seems to beileve everything he writes in his sleep is pure gold, and he's far too keen to tell usw all how clever he is, at the expense of actually making good tv. Wish they could get shot of him and let Gatiss take it over. (Mind you, I also wish they'd drop this and let Gatiss do Lucifer Box instead, but....).
     
  17. I just don't see it (over-writing, or poor writing - which is it?, Or are the assumed to be synonymous?). You'll agree that at least it's not just another rehashing of the damn canon!

    Hey, if he puts the final coffin into the risible Dr Who, I'll be a very happy Baron. If ever there was a case of an overhyped show, that's the one!
     
  18. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Certainly, for the first two series (and first episode of the third), it was a real breath of fresh air among the cobwebbed deerstalkers, country clothes, and increasingly ridiculous pipes. Then Moffat got lazy... I think, ultimately, it's ego. Moffat thinks he is these shows, and now he's just writing stuff to show off how clever he is which as poor writing ruins the stories precisely because he's more interested in being clever-clever than serving the show. It's like the lead guitarist who is so keen to show off his musicianship he solos at full volume over the top of everything, all night, thereby entirely ruining the band's performance. (Short answer, in this case it's basically both).

    It's a show I've long loved, but for the last year or so I've staqyed only out of loyalty, but if they don't get shot of Moffat soon, I'll end up an ex-fan in much the same way as I count myself an ex-Star Wars fan who hates, loathes and despises anything whateverf to do with that frnachise nowadays. C'est la vie geek.
     
  19. wot, you're saying now that jar jar binks wasn't the greatest character ever written?;)
     
  20. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    Ha... Binks, or at least his design intent, was the final evidence that Lucas would be ideally suited to working for Heidi Fleiss.
     

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