Friday, May 30, 2008

Another Defense of TV

This week's weekly geeks question is what other methods of storytelling you like besides the obvious favorite of books.

Well, dear loyal readers it will come as no surprise that my choice right now is a well executed serialized television show.

I think TV is highly underrated. If you actually admit to liking TV, people look down their noses at you. Sometimes, they'll say things like...I don't have time to watch TV. (this goes along with "I don't have time to read fiction") You don't have to watch TV every night, you can have one show you like and it will take at most an hour a week of your time. Less if you TiVo it.

I have spent a lot of time here lately extolling the virtues of my favorite TV shows, but last week's Booking Through Thursday question about books and movies and the difference and this week's Weekly Geeks question have all made me think a bit more about these issues. One participant in last week's Booking Through Thursday said that movies and television require nothing of the viewer which naturally, I heartily disagree with. It's important to understand this in the context that I am first and foremost a lover of books. I will always love books best, that's just the way it is, but loving books doesn't mean that I can't see the value in a good movie or a TV show.

Here's why I choose TV over movies. I love character development. I also like an interesting plot, but movies tend to be more fully plot driven than television. (a book can be either/or/and quite easily) Television has the opportunity to develop characters while also telling a great story. LOST (I haven't seen the finale yet due to the no internet/cable fiasco so don't spoil me!) is a perfect example of this. My favorite characters on LOST are Sayid and Desmond. (the conflict in their characters are the most interesting to me) The episode Enter 77, about Sayid coming face to face with a woman he had tortured in the past and receiving her unsolicited forgiveness is one of my very favorite episodes of any television series ever. However, if you were simply telling a story about "a magical island" in a movie, you would not have the chance to tell a story that shows how a variety of people from completely different life situations interact with trying to survive and facing unexplained phenomenon. The story of Sayid would be completely untreated in favor of a much less developed Jack Shepherd. Speaking of...
While Jack can get on my last nerve on the show, I think his character is one of the best developed and true to life characters on the show. They have really done a masterful job with him, and I hope Matthew Fox gets an Emmy.

I have also slowly been working my way through the first season of The Tudors. This is a great example of being able to tell this story in a more complete fashion than a movie like the Other Boleyn Girl, which made no sense as it was much too rushed. (but the book is wonderful) Also I think Jonathan Rhys Meyers is a fantastic King Henry!

But wait! This discussion would not be complete without talking about Buffy. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is another excellent example of prolonged character development while telling a whoppingly good story. She spouts off a one liner, stakes a vampire, and in the end, it's really all about this magnificent character of Buffy, one of my favorites ever.

The downside of TV is that at times ratings dictate a story. If the audience is unhappy with the direction a show is going, they have a lot of sway. Additionally, some stories are stretched out because they just don't know when to stop.

So those are my thoughts, my defense of TV as a storytelling medium, and this was a lot longer than I planned...sorry!

5 comments:

Heather Johnson said...

Great post! I've just started watching Season 1 of Lost and I love it so far. You're right about the character development; with all the flashback scenes you really get to know the backstory of each character.

And of course The Tudors is fantastic! Who knew King Henry could be that sexy?!

Tara said...

I love TV. I love books too. I just love a good story.

Maree said...

I agree. I love TV. And movies. And books ... anyway; the one show that really opened my eyes to what TV could do, was The Sopranos. Great storytelling, and it demanded something more than pointing and grunting at the shiny box in the corner.
I watched the first series and a half of Lost, but after that, it lost me (scuse the pun.)

Jen said...

Oh no, you missed the finale of Lost. I don't believe it!! Can you watch it online now?

I agree with you about tv being an excellent medium for character development. I think another great example of this is The Office. I know it isn't as "deep" as Lost, but I love getting to know all the characters' quirks.

ldperez said...

Just have to say this is really funny because I have purposely avoided reading your blog for the past couple days just knowing you'd have something to say about the finale and come to find out that you hadn't seen it yet either. We did just watch it last night. I won't say anything until I know you've seen it. I think LOST is my favorite TV show ever and you really have a point about character development in TV vs. movies. Great post!

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