Saturday, 14 September 2013

TV4: Introduction to Upcoming TV Reviews

I promised more reviews of TV shows. I will attempt to fulfill that promise, as time permits, but an introduction is required, so that I can share some general observations about TV entertainment and allow my reviews of individual shows to focus specifically on the shows' own merits, or lack thereof (so far, my three TV reviews in this blog all contain superfluous information).
For me, reviewing TV shows is not the same as reviewing films. TV shows require many hours of viewing time. Even if one is binge-watching (my favourite way to watch prime-time TV soaps), it is impossible to appraise sixty hours of TV in the same way I would appraise a two-hour film. My memory problems may be unique, but I can barely remember a film two months after viewing, let alone an entire season of TV seen two years before. Even a subjective reliable assessment of TV shows is therefore difficult for me to provide. TV shows do, however, leave strong gut reactions in me, so that when a number of new seasons of cable TV shows are released simultaneously on DVD, I instinctively know which shows I want to watch first (e.g. I just picked up the new seasons of Boardwalk Empire and Homeland; I dropped everything else I was watching and popped Homeland into the Blu-Ray player). My TV reviews will therefore often be relatively vague, not only in my observations of the technical merits and content, but in my personal impressions, but they will be reliable indications of how my gut feels about the shows in question.
I have previously mentioned my feelings about network TV (see review of Dexter). With few exceptions, cable TV shows are vastly superior, in every way (writing, acting, directing, cinematography, etc.),  to network TV shows. In particular, good cable TV shows have an intelligent authentic feel that is almost never found on network TV (Sorkin shows, as I have said before, are one exception). So I can watch and enjoy prime-time network soaps like Brothers & Sisters or Desperate Housewives, appreciating the decent writing and generally above-average acting, but in terms of intelligent authentic drama, those shows can’t get anywhere near Six Feet Under or Mad Men or Treme. Indeed, watching network TV frequently makes me cringe because, after watching cable TV, it feels so hokey.
I have also previously mentioned my general distaste for formulaic episodic TV shows. You won’t find too many reviews of such shows on this blog. As a general rule, I prefer shows that tell one long story (i.e. pure soap, in a positive sense). More and more, non-network TV is providing me with those kinds of shows. And House of Cards, which I will be reviewing soon, was even released all at once (on Netflix, which, like Facebook and smartphones, is not part of my world).
One final note: With few exceptions, I will be reviewing shows I enjoy (why would I watch more than a few episodes of a show I don’t enjoy?), so don’t look for me to condemn what I think is poor-quality TV.

Tomorrow: Breaking Bad!

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