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Will television surpass film?

2234 Views 21 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  deacongreg
I suppose the title says it all,....

As most of you know, (or maybe it's just me) but very few Hollywood films as of late (or the last 20 years) have been worth looking at. On the other hand there are a number of excellent TV productions. Whether you like 'em or not:

All in the Family
Band of Brothers
Battlestar Galactica
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Hill Street Blues
The Honeymooners
Mad Men
The Office
The Shield
The Sopranos
SpongeBob SquarePants
Twin Peaks
The West Wing
to name a few,...

Curious,...when will Hollywood get a clue? Perhaps it's just me,... but I prefer a little character and plot development much more than an all out slam-bam action film. Whatever happened to:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Godfather
High Noon
In the Heat of the Night
Lawrence of Arabia
The Quiet Man
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Red Rock West
The Shootist
Twelve O'Clock High
Young Frankenstein

Just a smattering of good films,..... but
Am I alone? Does the vast majority just want another: Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, et al; mindnumbing action film???: :hissyfit:
Or will the quality of television finally surpase film making?
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Re: Will television surpase flm?

Or will the quality of television finally surpass film making?
You have an interesting perspective that is certainly worth considering.

I read a book recently called "everything bad is good for you". It's basically about how so-called junk culture, those things that the older folks (ie. baby boomers and older) think are detrimental to the mind and culture are actually better than they're giving credit for and are just showing prejudice.

A couple of the biggest examples are video games actually being "good" and not bad for the mind. And most of all that modern TV has actually improved over older shows.

Modern shows involve complex plot lines and multiple story threads that crisscross. Older shows usually revolved around a single story thread and only a couple of a potential small handful of characters.

He actually maps out the average episode of Happy Days, Hawaii 5-0, Dragnet and others and compares it to Heroes, Housewives etc.

Sure, reality TV is inane and personally I hate it. But he defends it against the "reality" of the past which were game-shows and variety shows. The inter-relationships within a season of Survivor are far more complex and stimulating to more of the brain than any gameshow of the 60s - 70s.

I'm not saying it's all right. But it's interesting.

When HBO started doing TV shows like Band of Brothers then Deadwood and Rome I thought ... wow... a new era of the TV show using its potential to create what used to be called a mini-series.

I love the idea of a one shot story. TV could be used to make stories that are just about as complex as the book because they're not limited to a two-hour run-time like a film.

But it turns out that making subsequent seasons of a successful single-season run is far too tempting. Perhaps there is an economic paradigm shift that needs to occur to allow this to happen. Seeing a successful run as a cash cow and running the franchise into the ground is just too sad.

Can you imagine if they decided to do subsequent seasons of Band of Brothers just to make some money and bastardize the whole project?

BoB II, the brother go to Korea.

BoB III, the brothers adjust to life at home

BoB IV, the grizzled vet brothers go to 'Nam


There are always good movies too though Nova. I just think TV or the weekly serial is a format that could be used to produce some amazing storytelling.
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Just to play Devil's advocate Tony... I am going to disagree with most of what you say. Although it's an opinion and you're certainly entitled to your own.

I feel TV entertainment has advanced since the 80s and prior and it's gotten "better" by many measures.

I think the acting, editing, sets and many other conditions are better on TV today as it's ever been. I think the stories are more complex than ever too.

If anything is wrong with TV today it's pretty much the same thing that has always been wrong. As a business it sometimes takes a good thing and drags it out to maximize profit at the expense of the art.

All in the Family was a great show.

Many of its spin-offs were also high quality, like the Jefferson’s.

But nobody wanted to let it die. Does anyone remember Archie Bunker's Place?

Hill Street Blues was one of the first prime time Police dramas that incorporated multiple threads and storylines that would intersect. It was complex and deep. By today's standards its stories are pretty basic. Look at all the things going on in an episode of 24 or even Prison Break.

Although... like most shows, Prison Break needed to end when.... WHEN THEY BROKE OUT OF *******' PRISON!!!!! The show is called Prison Break and well I stopped watching it when they broke out. It started turning into a soap opera.
Also Tony about movies and overt sexual content.

I am not sure I follow you there. I know that current trend in pop-film production is to aim movies at 15 year old boys. This means they go for PG, avoid R and NC-17 is the kiss of death.

If you watch older action movies (cop movies for instance) from the 80s or earlier it was common to have brief nudity. It's almost never that way today. Horror is the same way.

The Firday the 13th formula always involved horny campers, show some nudity then kill them. Today you'd still probably get the sex but not the nudity.

The original Die Hard had a nudity scene. Subsequent Die Hard films did not. It's a sign of the times.

I really don't buy nostalgia. I think people who believe movies aren't as good as they used to be will also say that music isn't as good as it used to be either. But this can’t be the case because there is so much indie music going on today that any taste is being explored, even classic rock.

I bet if you polled everyone who ever said (it was better back in the day) I bet the peak for the production of entertainment was during said nostalgia buff's high school years. That's when we tend to decide what we like and most of us decide to stop discovering about that time too.
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As always, I have a different perspective on things.
Thanks Richard. I always find your posts informative.

I recently watched (Blu-ray) A Bridge Too Far. The first run of the film in theaters was a bit before my time, I don't even think I ever saw it before although I was crazy about WWII movies as a kid. This one might have been a bit too grown up for me to watch back then.

But in viewing it now I was amazed at what a HUGE movie this was and must have been in its day. It had so many A-list actors. To have made something like that today with the actors budget alone, forget the great (for its day) special effects, stunt work, equipment they blew up and pyrotechnics... it would have cost a fortune and could have easily brought down a studio if it failed to make money.

ie. Heavan's Gate might have suffered that syndrome.

I guess it must have been easier to finance huge movies with a cast that includes so man huge actors. I guess they must have not made the kind of money (for the time) as they do now.
another problem for theatrical movies
is the insistence that most stay within the PG-13 content
That's where I get the 15-year-old-boy problem with movies today. Roger Ebert harps on it on his website often.

For movies to make money today they have to be able to reel in the fifteen year old boy demographic. If you can appeal to them you have a blockbuster on your hands. The rest of the movie watching public gets what's left over in any studio's budget.

That's why I find it a bit ironic that anyone would think there is a rise in questionable sexual content in films these days. I think if anything movies have become much more de-sexualized... if you were to take the top weekend box office gross every Monday and ... well…

Here are the last week's top grossing films:

1 He's Just Not That Into You WB PG-13
2 Taken Fox PG-13
3 Coraline Focus PG
4 The Pink Panther 2 Sony PG
5 Paul Blart: Mall Cop Sony PG
6 Push Sum. PG-13
7 Slumdog Millionaire Fox R
8 Gran Torino WB R
9 The Uninvited P/DW PG-13
10 Hotel for Dogs PG

4 out of 10 are rated PG - family entertainment.

Only 2 of 10 are rated R Slumdog Millionare and Gran Torino...

Neither of those films I'd categorize as containing questionable sexual or moral content. I admit I haven't seen Slumdog but - isn't it about a kid from India that gets rich? Gran Torino is one of the most morally upstanding movies I've seen in a long time, I loved that movie and would take my son to see it if he were a teenager.

4 of 10 are PG-13. You may not agree with the MPAA, I know I don't like the whole idea of rating movies in the first place because it gives them too much power to decide what's going to make money.

But all-in-all I think we're in a sanitized era of film. Family oriented movies are at a peak in quality, creativity and box office potential. Especially when you consider all the two big studios making CGI films, those are all consistently very good films and all family oriented.
I think you'd have to go wayyyy back to the 50s or 60s to find an era where mainstream films are as non-sexual and consistently family oriented as they are now. That era certainly was not the 70s and 80s.

I have a five year old and one of our favourite things is to go to the movies. Seldom a weekend goes by there isn't something new we can go see.
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