Sunday, January 15, 2006

Must See TV

I'm not a TV guy. Used to be, I would just as soon have the thing off than watch pretty much anything. I still don't watch that much, so most of my assessment of quality comes from a general vibe and what I catch here and there, so I might not really know what I'm talking about, but I think the consensus is that TV is pretty good right now. I must say, if you told me three years ago that TV was going to reach a pinnacle in 2005-2006, I wouldn't have believed you. Back then we were stuck in reality TV hell. Every network had 5 new reality shows a season, and they left as quickly as they came.

n. pl. re·al·i·ties
  1. The quality or state of being actual or true.

I think that most reality shows are more surreal than real. What's realistic about eating live goldfish, and bungee jumping from helicopters on Fear Factor? And how many people pick their wife from 20 random women all competing to marry some guy they've never met a la The Bachelor? Whenever someone would come up with a new bad idea, someone else would rush to rip it off, and release an even crappier knockoff before the original idea even aired. Wife Swap and Trading Spouses are two prime examples. I knew a backlash was coming, but I wouldn't have thought it would get us where we are today.

Right now, on TV in America, we have some of the most well done programs ever in the history of broadcasting. Maybe not all of them are classics, but the production values and acting are very good, and several are very unique, as well.

Here's a rundown:
Boston Legal (My personal favorite. Shatner and Spader are flawless in that show.)
Lost (really should have gotten on this boat from the beginning.)
Desperate Housewives (I thought I would hate it, but I actually like it)
Gray's Anatomy (Same thing.)
Commander in Chief (Even though I hate it, many people like it)
Law and Order (times 3 or 4, however many shows they have)
CSI (times 3)
The Office
There are a ton of shows that are just starting that I can't think of off the top of my head, to boot. And this is just on the Networks. There are probably more quality hour-long dramas than at any other point in television history. It seems like the production values have really started going up, too. The sets look very realistic. Nothing seems as cheezy as it once did.

And when you start getting into cable channels, and the Sopranos, Entourage, Nip/Tuck, the quality is there when it seems like it just wasn't in the past. I think that must be the reason TV in general is doing so well. Competition from the cable channels meant that the networks had to finally come up with something good for people to watch. Capitalism wins once again. Here's hoping the movie studios have the same thing happen to them.

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