Has tv lost its heart?

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by JamesSmith, Oct 4, 2010.

  1. JamesSmith

    JamesSmith Screenwriter

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    Dear Guys:


    Do any of you feel that television has lost its "heart?" Somehow I do. The shows that I loved as a child; Get Smart, Six Million Dollar Man, Star Trek, I Dream of Jennie, Gilligan's Island, Mission Impossible, etc; seemed to possess a certain something that I loved and its stars were more than just people who played the roles.


    Now, it seems everything seems mechanized, calculated to get the maximum ratings, calculated to get a maximum effect. There don't seem to be any niches for anything with any heart to come through.


    Twenty years ago, it seemed that there were some areas where tv would not go or do. Now, that those boundries have been breached, there's an "anything goes" mentality going on.


    I have have found that some programs do an excellent job in drawing you into their storylines, only to leave you depressed afterwards.


    Is this just nosalgia? Or have any of you felt the same way? Bring back the sixties.


    James
     
  2. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

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    With only a few exceptions,like The Simpsons, Futurama, My Name Is Earl, Millenium and X-Files (the first 5 seasons anyway), I havent watched network tv since the 80s.
     
  3. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    TV has been in a Golden Age for the past 15-20 years. We've seen some of the best TV ever ranging from Seinfeld to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Star Trek: The Next Generation to Lost to The Sopranoes.



    So, no: You're just nostalgic. It's the same as believing the music you grew up with is the good stuff and the stuff today's kids listen to is crap
     
  4. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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  5. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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  6. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I think/hope pop music is on its usual cycle of every 10 or 15 years, it just bottoms out into total garbage (where I think we are today) and then something cool comes around. In 5 years, people are going to be laughing at Lady Gaga and the really lousy rappers out there and deny ever liking them.
     
  7. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    Yeah, I don't think the music industry is dead for all time. I see plenty of kids on YouTube who love the classics but want to just use them as a base to come up with their own thing--kind of like our idols being inspired by the old bluesmen but making it their own. I think YT will be a big proving ground for young musicians, and they won't all be as cringeworthy as Bieber. I actually don't hate the kid as much as some do, but his music ain't my thing.
     
  8. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    I'm watching more earnest and heartfelt shows now than at any point in recent memory: Chuck, about a geeky spy who falls in love and is loved in return; Castle, about a mystery writer who solves crimes but is a devoted single father; Raising Hope, about a young man suddenly thrust into fatherhood and is trying his damnedest to provide a better upbringing than his own well-intentioned parents provided him; Life Unexpected, about two thirty-year-old screw-ups who are trying to make up for lost time with the daughter they conceived in high school and learned was never adopted; Parenthood, about the trials and triumphs of the four adult Braverman siblings and their respective families; The Good Wife, about a woman trying to do right by her family and herself in the aftermath of her husband's infidelity; The Middle, about a strange and very dysfunctional Midwestern working class family that comes together when it counts; Modern Family, about a multiracial, multi-lifestyle, multi-generational family that is hilarious but very heartfelt; and even Hellcats, which is mining much more interesting emotional territory than it has any right to with one the season's most interesting protagonists in the head cheerleader. Fall 2010 is an embarrassment of riches.


    I don't think it's fair to judge any era of music by its worst examples. The reason earlier decades of recorded music like the 1920s through the 1950s come across better is because only the cream survived. The cost and expertise required to record a serviceable album has come down to the point where way more music is being produced than any time before. Whenever you lower the bar for entry, a lot more crap is going to come through the floodgates. The best of this decade holds up very well indeed, IMO.
     
  9. DaveHof

    DaveHof Stunt Coordinator

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    I think what has changed is that back in the days of the classic TV that many of us still love, the characters were more black and white. The dads on Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show etc. were not complex characters. They were virtuous, upright citizens who loved their families and worked hard for a living - they were not written to have neuroses or hangups or any character traits that detracted from their somewhat idealized persona. You could make similar comparisons to the kids on Brady Bunch vs. those on Modern Family, the doctors on Marcus Welby vs. Grey's Anatomy, etc. Contemporary TV is more concerned with realism, and of course with looser censorship and standards & practices writers are more free to explore the seedy underbellies of families and people who work in various professions. I don't know that I would think in terms of better or worse when comparing the two - it's just different. I personally prefer the older shows, but I can recognize the quality of a series like 'The Sopranos,' even if I don't care much for the subject matter.
     
  10. Regulus

    Regulus Cinematographer

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    IMO, the decline began about 10 years ago when the Networks began introducing unscripted Game and "Reality" Shows such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Survivor, Big Brother and others. Many Quality Shows were taken off to make room for these new Programs. At the same time, the number of Commercials began to increase to the point where more than 1/3 of the show is Advertising, and on-screen advertising made its debut (In the form of "Pop-Ups", Scrolls and Banners"). A few years ago I decided enough was enough, and threw in the towel. I decided TV was no longer worth paying a Subscription for, and I "Cut the Cord". $65.00 a Month buys PLENTY of Home Videos!
     
  11. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Screenwriter

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    So...examples?
     
  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    What we don't have today, perhaps, are the mindless, teen-friendly action bits that were tolerable to adults, like The A-Team and Knight Rider and Battlestar: Galactica. Adult fare is vastly better written, but is arguably much less appropriate for youth, like the remade Battlestar: Galactica. Or maybe not: we've had 20 years of great fun with the variants on Star Trek TNG and Stargate. And I've just tumbled onto Dr. Who on PBS, which is a weirdly compelling show.

    Maybe "Reality" shows have become the new family-friendly shows, with great stuff like Amazing Race and Survivor and other bits like So You Think You Can Dance. And the hundreds of cable shows bring us broader family never before available, Alton Browns: Good Eats or ABC Family's show on the American Teen.


    And if you do like shows from 40 years ago, you can watch it on reruns or DVD -- like my inlaws do.


    I personally think we're past the peak of this present golden age. Novel shows aren't given the same chance to improve and build an audience. There are tremendous competitive forces against the expensive and complex dramas. But still, for now, there are incredible shows out.
     
  13. Hanson

    Hanson Producer

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    I don't think TV lost its heart, but it definitely grew a brain.


    I agree with DaveF on two points: 1) nostalgia is what makes shows like Gilligan's Island or Six Million Dollar Man such cultural icons -- I loved both shows as a child and could not fathom why anyone said they were awful. But when I viewed them again 20 years later, they made me cringe. At the time, the Andre the Giant as Bigfoot was the apex of TV for me. And now, I don't think I could sit through 10 minutes of it. It's just to dumb and simplistic to engage me. 2) The flip side is that there aren't many shows you can watch with the whole family anymore. For instance, I love Glee, but it is simply too risque for my 5 year old daughter even though she'd love it because its about teenagers. The only show we both enjoy together is Phineas & Ferb, but only because that show is very cleverly written on two levels. We let her watch Hannah Montana only sparingly because we think it's a stupid, unwatchable show and sends the wrong messages. Which I suppose is what parents said about Gilligan's Island in the 60's and The Six Million Dollar Man in the 70's and The A-Team in the 80's.

    But the proliferation of cable TV and DVR's has made this all moot. I can record Disney Channel and Nickelodeon shows for my kids and watch Glee with my wife. Besides, the kids go to bed at 8:00, so we aren't at that point where we need to watch prime time TV with the kids.
     
  14. Ockeghem

    Ockeghem Ockeghem

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    "2) The flip side is that there aren't many shows you can watch with the whole family anymore."


    Hanson,


    This, and the fact that I do enjoy collecting, are the two reasons why my DVD collection is comprised of so many shows that pre-date 1970 (or thereabouts). Several of the shows from the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s are IMO 'safe.' I might think differently if I didn't have a family, but when you have several daughters, and they all love acting, music, dancing, and theater, it's gratifying to find that several shows from these decades (and a few current shows shown on Disney and a couple of other relatively safe channels) are able to be watched with the entire family. I also appreciate how some films for television and television shows today incorporate music and other arts to the degree that they do. I came home from work the other day, and three of our daughters were dancing in the kitchen to songs from Camp Rock 2 and Victorious. It's even more enjoyable for me to see one of them (in this case, our oldest girl) actually writing out the chord progressions to some of these songs and then working to learn them on her instrument of choice.


    With regard to some shows sending the wrong messages, I agree. That's why in our case we provide the foundation and the spiritual training that helps them to discern between what is pure and what is not. Depending on their age and respective levels of maturity, they can glean the 'good,' if you will, and reject the rest.
     
  15. Hugh Jackes

    Hugh Jackes Supporting Actor

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    A few months ago, I came across a McCloud. I thought, "Oh great! This is classic detective fare. I loved this show". It was dreadful. Badly written, predictable, and poorly acted by all but the lead. Then I thought of other cop shows; Mannix came to mind, and I realized that so many of the episodes of cop shows ended the same way, with the bad guy climbing something, the side of a building, the catwalks of a theater or an abandoned warehouse, a radio tower, and then getting shot by the good guy and tumbling to the ground holding his gut. I remember my mother commenting once that there must be something in the criminal mind that they always climbed something to evade justice (didn't point out to her that it was a television show).

    Get Smart, which my Tivo recently suggested and James Smith mentioned, was predictable and overly dependent on a laugh track. After how many seasons, how is "Sorry about that, Chief", "Missed (it/me) by that much", and "Would you believe..." still funny? How does Agent 13, stuffed into some impossible space, not become wearying?


    I think that I could watch any of the shows that James listed, many of which I enjoyed at the time they were new, and be similarly disappointed.


    I don't know if James' lament and initial post is nostalgia, but my feelings about 60s and 70s television certainly are.
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Hugh makes a good point.


    I remember loving THE MONKEES as a kid. Bought the

    DVD boxed set a few years ago, watched it and wondered,

    "What the hell did I find so funny about this show?" It was

    pretty bad.


    Then when Time/Life released the GET SMART set I raced

    to purchase it. Watched the entire series over the course of

    a few months and was very disappointed that it didn't even

    remotely make me laugh as hard as I did as a kid.


    Really, the only TV show that still holds up as incredibly

    funny is MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS which never

    gets old for me.


    Yeah, there is something very nostalgic about all those

    shows of the '60s and '70s. I don't think the shows of

    today will ever be as regarded as "classic" compared to

    those of yesteryear. Perhaps I'm wrong about that.


    I think reality shows are the worst thing that have ever

    appeared on television, exposing the real trash of this

    world. However, I'll be the first to admit that I am loving

    SURVIVOR, which seems to be a cut above the reality

    shows showing on MTV.


    Lots of great television over the years including LOST,

    24, THE SHIELD and certainly many of the those listed

    in this thread that I haven't even watched yet. Some of

    the best shows come from HBO including THE SOPRANOS,

    DEADWOOD and BOARDWALK EMPIRE.


    But, yes, there are a lot of shows that just come and

    go that never really grab the attention of the viewing

    audience. There is always a risk committing yourself

    to a new show. For example, I have a few episodes of

    THE EVENT on my Tivo but kind of want to make sure

    others are enjoying it before I waste my time with it. I wasted

    a year watching FLASHBACK and really wish I could get

    that time back.
     
  17. Josh Dial

    Josh Dial Cinematographer

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    No, it hasn't.
     
  18. Bob Graz

    Bob Graz Supporting Actor

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    The best TV shows reflect the current or recent past cultural events. Hogan's Hero's was a great spoof on WW II, Rat Patrol (entertaining and action oriented), Combat (executed incredibly well to help understand WW II from the soldiers perspective), etc. The cold war gave us Get Smart, Rocky and Bullwinkle. The political environment gave us Family Ties and Spin City. MASH spoofed the Korean War. Happy Days the resurgence of the feel good fifties after the Watergate and Vietnam era. In between those shows we've always had the police shows (Dragnet, Adam 12, etc), the hospital shows (Dr. Kildare, Marcus Welby, St. Elsewhere, ER) and action shows. Shows like All in the Family, Maude, etc were iconic for how they treated topics never discussed on TV before.


    Those shows tugged at our emotions. We could identify with them and they were entertaining. I think when we look back at music and TV we are nostalgic because we identified with those shows and music during the periods in our lives when we were becoming who we are. We talked about them with our friends at home and at school.They were part of us.


    If you think about new shows they follow similar themes as the past but maybe to an extreme degree. Too many cop shows, too many medical shows, etc. Maybe not enough shows that are well written to reflect issues of today like some of the truly iconic programs. I do think very good shows exist (House, Glee, etc) but among a greater amount of shows that provide little emotional or intellectual stimulation.



    So all is not lost, just maybe hidden gems among the garbage out there.
     
  19. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    As years go by, we tend to only remember the "high points" of TV shows, while forgetting all the other dreck that was airing along with the 'good' shows at that time.


    Today, we have so many choices, and that's probably more of the issue because it does get harder to find shows that entertain on a consistent basis. Perhaps the talent pool is being spread too thin, but production values are higher, and the writing and compelling acting on the good shows tend to keep good shows on the air, but there's no denying that we enjoy watching to see who gets the weekly cut from "reality" competition/game shows. Hell, I've been moved to tears from a 2-minute dance routine on "So You Think You Can Dance", something that rarely happens to me while watching TV dramas.
     
  20. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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