December 8th, 2009
|10:18 am - Top TV|
Article in the NY Magazine (thanks for the correction Abigail) arguing that in the noughties, TV became Art. The argument - and I think it's a good one - is that there is a business model to create high class drama, which repays investment in DVD box sets. While the noughties were arguably an excellent decade for film, they have been inarguably an excellent decade for TV.
My top five American TV shows were/are
Each one bloody outstanding - outstanding. I feel privileged to have seen any one of them, let alone all. Furthermore there were others, such as the Sopranos and Battlestar Galaactica, which were surely very good but I just never got around to watching.
My top five British TV shows were, it's more difficult, but I think:
Life on Mars
I've left something obvious off there haven't I? I've got a nagging feeling. These are different from the high investment US shows: less grounded, more absurd. They rely more on winging it. That's not a very clear way of expressing what I mean.
I think that TV has been art before now, but it's more consistent, and there's more money invested in it, now that the philistines have figured out they can generate income from quality. Of course there is another business model, which is churn out any tatty old crap which is supposedly 'real', while being nothing like reality. However, you don't have to watch it do you? (By 'you' here I am addressing myself)
I would like to put in a word for British short drama series, which come and go, perhaps never make as much individual impression as these great shows, but cumulatively add up to something worthwhile. That includes BBC classical adaptations like Crime and Punishment, and ITV's bleak crime dramas like Wire in the Blood and Rebus.
that in the noughties, TV became Art
TV became art at least as early as 1967, with the original The Prisoner TV series. And Callan, which also started its run at about the same time. I don't think current British TV is any better than the stuff British TV was doing 40 plus years ago. Which isn't a criticism of current British TV, but a tribute to how good the stuff of 40 years ago was.
The change is certainly less marked in British TV than in American, perhaps because the business model was never so pre-eminent over here, for good or ill. I think the NYT are mainly talking about American telly, and I think there's more of a case to be made on that side of the ocean.