Television is getting better. Agree or Disagree?


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I agree.

For one very simple reason. Shows actually have storylines now! In the past pretty much every show, comedy, drama, action, cartoon, whatever followed the same formula. You have your cast of characters, and then episode after episode, week after week, they deal with a particular challenge. Each episode is a self-contained unit with a beginning, middle and end, with no real overlapping story. You'll have references to previous episodes for the hardcore fans, but beyond that, it was all situation of the week that would last indefinitely for years until the ratings couldn't sustain the show anymore.

However, this was limited to North American shows, and is a big reason why I preferred watching anime over american cartoons. My friend actually wrote about this last year and asked the president of NBC (or ABC) why there's a difference. It turns out that doing story-based finite run miniseries is actually cheaper to do than the episodic style of American shows. That doesn't really answer anything, but it is interesting to know.

The funny thing about all of this, is that over the past 5 years or so, with the introduction and massive success of shows like 24 and The Sopranos, televion shows are now following that model and having actual plots that begin and end. If you look at the most popular shows on television now, a lot of them have very distinct storylines, Lost, Heroes and so on. Heck, even reality shows have very clear storylines, it's just that the stories are somewhat unscripted.

For me, shows are definitely getting better. After a very long hiatus of not watching tv, I'm now back to viewing a bunch of great shows very regularly. Thank you HBO.

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If you think that shows are getting better, then how about reality shows where people's worse traits are paraded on television? I absolutely hate those shows. Sure, you have some shows that try to be "intellectual" and have decent story lines, but in general, the ones that get publicized the most are shows that don't really have much substance. Take America's Next Top Model for instance. What does it teach us? It teaches us that women should be thin, tall, and beautiful. It teaches the next generation of girls to be superficial and to only look at the outside. Then you end up with a bunch of girls trying to mimic top models. I thought magazines did enough of this propaganda, but apparently that isn't enough, television has to do its share as well.

Other shows like Survivor and Amazing Race do a great job at portraying people's worse sides. If you ever sit down and watch those shows, it's always about people arguing, fighting, swearing, and in the end, what's their motivation? To win money.

The whole distinct storyline is becoming more apparent, but what I do not get is that despite shows getting better and probably using better language, the majority of the population still does not talk that way! Maybe people just aren't absorbing the best parts of television shows. That's rather disappointing.

I may be biased, and probably am, but The West Wing was probably the best show ever. If you want to talk about strong plot and distinct story line, it had it all. And if you wanted to learn how to speak with proper and better English, that show was the right fit for you. It also showcased a lot of societal and political issues facing America. For me, no show has been able to really match up to it. Perhaps its successor is Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. We shall see.

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In general, I believe in progress, and TV is no exception. I agree that the pervasive continuing storyline is a hot item right now. Lost, Heroes, Friday Night Lights, Dexter, and even the Office (American version) are good examples.

I think this is more of a trend rather than some final destination. There is something to be said for the timeless formula where all issues are resolved in the hour or half-hour and then next week you start anew. Many of the best shows of all time have followed this model (The Simpsons, Seinfeld, Leave it to Beaver, The Cosby Show). Yet, even within these shows there is some level of continuity.

I do have one problem with the current story driven shows is that it makes it difficult to get into a show if you don't watch it from the very beginning of its run, or heaven forbid miss an episode. I am completely lost with Lost now, and I don't see myself watching this show ever again.

Omar, you never even mentioned other hugely popular TV trends like the reality show (Real World, Survivor, Biggest Loser), the "live" high-stakes gameshow (Millionaire, 1 vs. 100, Dear or No Deal), and the talent show (American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Rock Star, America's Next Top Model). What do you think about these formats?

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Oooh, I forgot. 30 Rock is amazing! It's an interesting format for a comedy show. "Past Pete killed future Pete!"
This post was edited by Erik on 12/18/2006 4:18 PM
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I love "Past Pete killed Future Pete", I think that is the funniest line I have ever seen on TV.

Ruthers, I think we're on opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to TV. I, literally, could not STAND the West Wing when it was on. The show was so unbelievably pretentious and "high-brow", not to mention bo-ring! Studio 60 falls into the same category for me - boring! I'll agree with you on Survivor and Amazing Race, but come on, America's Next Top Model! That show is classic! Granted, since Janice's departure the show has gone downhill, but it's still entertaining.

I watch TV for the entertainment factor, whether they're funny, emotional or just silly, I'll probably like them. But as soon as they get heavy-handed (a la West Wing) or preachy (7th Heaven) or super cheesy (Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol) I'm out.
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The Office, 30 Rock, My Name's Earl, Family Guy, The War at Home. All awesome shows that I would take anyday over Happy Days. But mabey not Mork and Mindy. Its only natural that TV improves over time.

I agree with Erik when he says that TV shows often demand that you watch them religiously, never missing an episode. I cant stand it when I miss my favorite TV shows.

This post was edited by SilenceOmo7 on 12/18/2006 4:55 PM
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Nah-noo, nah-noo, silence omo, NAH-NOO NAH-NOO
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Nah-noo to you too.

Robin Williams has changed a lot since back then, now he's all....whooooooooooa.

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Are you into Mork and Mindy for real? I watched it when I was a toddler and it must've left a serious impression. Also, that V show messed me up too.
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Ya, Mork and Mindy is funny. I catch it every once in a while on networks that play the classic TV shows. It was way before my time though.
This post was edited by SilenceOmo7 on 12/18/2006 6:43 PM

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