During my post-graduate years working toward my first master's degree at Duquesne University, I was fortunate to have as my advisor a "hippy" English teacher who was very much into 19th Century drama (probably the most obscure plays ever written), and, I have to say, some of the strangest works that I have ever encountered. I remember speaking with him about television, and he informed me quickly that he didn't own a television set. I felt, that because he was an extremely idealic, intense, and "true" academic, that he didn't own a television becaue he didn't believe in the media. I was suprised to find out, after I pushed him more on the topic, that he didn't own a television because he knew that if he did, he wouldn't get any of his important work done because he would get caught up in the fascinating "thing" that is televison, and that was at a time when shows on television, mostly network shows, weren't very good.
But today, 2015, I understand what my professor meant. Television has changed, and with the influx of great programming, The Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, House of Cards, Fargo, Empire, Twin Peaks, Comedy Central's Louis CK, and many more shows (too many to name) have caputured the attention of an array of television enthuiasts who are literally flocking to not only their television sets, but setting their DVR's and Tvo's to capture some very good programming. Even the music venue, MTV and VHI has a hit channel in Palladia. If you love live music, Palladia offers all types and all genres all of the time. And not just ridiculous videos. Palladia uses videos to fill gaps between their concert series (see below).
2105 isn't your television of your father and mother's generation. The days of "Leave it to Beaver" and the "Waltons" is over, including sitcoms like "Three's Company" and "Full House." Those "funny" shows have been replaced by darker, more thought-provoking, highly produced "new" versions of television, acting, music, and much more. More and more people are staying in and/or DVR-ing their favorite shows these days, and there is a reason why. Television is doing some pretty good work, exceptional work, actually. The days of silly WHAM videos are over...
...replaced by live performances such as this one at The Isle of White 2015 Festival. "Hold Back the River" - James Bay Band.
Serious Television Shows
Palladia's Live From Daryl's House is definitely worth your time. Rocker Daryl Hall brings in past, current, and future stars to "jam" with him. The production and directing is exeptional, and these "live" takes are worth watching. Daryl Hall started Live From Daryl's House, the free monthly web show in late 2007, after having the idea of "playing with my friends and putting it up on the Internet," and the show has since garnered acclaim from Rolling Stone, SPIN, Daily Variety, CNN, BBC, Yahoo! Music and influential blogger Bob Lefsetz, who cited Live From Daryl's House as a perfect example of a veteran artist reinventing himself in the digital world.
Additionally, Palladia's live concerts from all over the globe, MTV World Stage, Live from Daryl's House, Later...With Jools Holland, Live from the Artists' Den) offer more music than one can possibly watch.
Comedy Central, Fox, ESPN (30 for 30 Series) add to the list of entertaining programming. Even the mainstream CBS, ABC, NBC are trying to get in on this magic by producing shows such as The Good Wife, Quantico, Blindspot, Scandal, Reign, Limitless, Code Black, Black List, Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Madam Secretary which are also receiving high acclaim and excellent ratings, keeping those DVR machines extremely busy. Add to this list, the tremendous programming on The History Channel, Discovery Channel, and still some pretty good programming on PBS, and you have so much quality viewing that at times, it is difficult to make a choice.
I really believe in this day and age of television, it is getting better. In this case, I feel, more is great. This is not to say that there is still a lot of garbage out there - there is, but even some of the "shows for the idiot mind" are watchable, even for a brief moment.
Reality shows are different. They display the darkest side of human beings.
Example, who can't, for just a few seconds, watch Keeping up with the Kardashians, Dance Moms, Dating Naked, Selling Naked, Celebrity Wife Swap, Housewives of Atlanta, Wives of the NBA, Wives of Orange County.... why not be intrigued about this "freakish" side of our celebrity world? Please, I am not condoning nor am I celebrating these shows. It's just that if you enjoy watching a mere "smidgeon" of the wierd and the disgusting, you have to pay a little attention just be see how this side of our society lives.
Watch five minutes of Dance Moms and wonder how child abuse has become famous and in vogue? Watch the Kardashians and be very glad you are living the life you have and are not them, regardless of the money they have. Big Brother, with its display of deviants, cooks, and plotters, and you learn that there are really people in the world who truly are exhibitionists and love to hurt other people.
But, as they say on the show time and time again, as they do on Survivor, "it's just a game." A game being played by "freaks" is suppose. Who would sign up for that? To live on a disgustingly dirty place and purposely make others feel uncomfortable? Not me, that's for sure. But television allows us to see this side of real people.
"SITTING ON THE EDGE OF YOUR SEAT WAITING FOR THE NEX SHOE TO DROP" TELEVISION
Just two of the highly acclaimed cable television shows that are receiving rave reviews from fans and critics alike. And coming to Showtime next season, the revival of the highly celebrated cult classic Twin Peaks on Showtime.
Television has become fun, and the shows prove their worth. I remember watching the first episodes of FX's Sons of Anarchy which contained very few commercials. Last night, while watching Fargo, Season 2, I was taken aback, and annoyed, over the number of commercials that are appearing on these shows, indications, to me at least, that advertisers are finding that the ratings of these shows are extremely high, hence the amount of advertising.
It's extremely hard to keep up with all of the new shows. I speak with friends, family, and avid television fans and find out everyday "the must" show to watch. Even writing, directing, producing great Kurt Sutter's new entry into this year's cast of interesting and innovative shows The Bastard Executioner (Lee Jones, Katey Sagal - of course, she's Sutter's wife, but a great actress, nonetheless - Flora Spencer-Longhurst, Sam Spruell, Sarah Sweeney, Danny Sapani, Kurt Sutter, and Timothy V. Murphy round out this excellent cast) is a bit difficult to follow due to plot twists, difficulting in telling characters apart, and language (writing dialogue that "resembles" 14th century speech) but is worth the view.
BIG NAME STARS FLOCKING TO ACT IN THESE OFF-THE-WALL DRAMAS
And, the fact that actors such as Ted Danson, Rachel Adams, Colin Farrel, Vince Vaughn, Will Smith, Scarlett Johansson, Keanu Reeves, Halle Berry, Katherine Heigl, Terrence Howard, Angela Bassett, Jamie Lee Curtis, Susan Sarandon, Meg Ryan, Kirsten Dunst, Billy Bob Thornton, Don Cheadle, Kevin Bacon, Kevin Spacey, Kerry Washington, Claire Danes, Ashton Kutcher, Patrick Wilson, Zooey Deschanel, James Spader, Kathy Bates, Jessica Lange, Emma Roberts, Chloë Sevigny, Bokeem Woodbine, and Dylan McDermott all seem to want in on the action means something.
Add to these programs listed above, FX is also in production of Baskets (Zach Gaifianakis, another big screen star testing out the small screen market):
"This [BASKETS] could be hilarious. Or scary. FX has ordered 10 episodes of Baskets, a new comedy starring Zach Galifianakis as a Bakersfield, California man named Chip Baskets, "who dares to follow his dream of becoming a professional clown. But after an unsuccessful enrollment at a prestigious clowning school in Paris, the only job he can find is with the local rodeo."
"The pilot episode was co-written by Galifianakis, Louis C.K., and director Jonathan Krisel (Portlandia, Saturday Night Live, Man Seeking Woman), who is the showrunneron Baskets and also directed the pilot.
"Production will begin next year with the series scheduled to launch in 2016" according to a recent USA Today review.
Even FX's American Horror Story: Hotel (Lady Gaga, Kathy Bates, Finn Whitrock, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson) tired, too hard this time I fear, to break the mold. Can't deal with gratuitious violence and sex along with persistent blood letting. This is the first AHS series that I am purposefully not following. I try to take a peak at it once a week, but it hasn't changed. Vampires: nope. It's not that I don't like vampires, it's that I don't like the way these vampires behave!
The scripts are extremely well-written, the "series" are not long (7 - 12 at the most), the production is fantastic, and the fact that the directors are using single camera shots and multiple camera angles, with creative design throughout the productions, and the fact that it appears that these actors are given free reign to improvise throughout scenes. There also exists a seemning peculiarity and intrigue that exists in this new era of television. Definitely worth the time and the patience to sift through those shows that are on television - Netflix, xFinity, etc... - and settle in and watch a series or two to see why these shows are so highly acclaimed and are able to attract the extemely high stature of actors.
Golden age? I am not sure. But definitely lots to watch and lots to pay close attention to. It appears that a movement is afoot. I am not sure of the reason, but it seems that because so many "movie" stars are moving toward this "new" medium, it does bear some discussion and definitely worth a look.
From what I have seen thus far, it is more than good television - it is good production and great entertainment - and, in my estimation, many times beats going out to watch a movie (although this is still not out of the question).
And, when that "purist" comes to you and tells you there is nothing "good" on television, you can now disagree and let her know that TV is the place to be.
Make the comparison yourself.
Or would you rather have a scene like this: