Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Future of TV?

I sort of keep up with news about the TV industry, like this time of year is always fun as pilots get ordered and I get my hopes up (only to have them dashed later) and I occasionally read stuff at other times, too. Probably it's on par with how much I keep up with the publishing industry these days. I'm no expert by any means!

In recent months, real concern has been expressed about the viability of network TV. It's very rare for a network to launch a breakout a show anymore, and less people are watching live TV as it is. The DVR and time delayed viewing + the internet has changed everything about how TV works and as technologies continue to improve this will probably only continue. Product placement within shows might help defray some of the cost, but it's not enough to make up for lost ad revenue. (also it's so tacky, like when Bones is explaining to Booth how the car works and all its features, I mean COME ON) Other techniques have been tried--shorter but more expensive commercials, putting episodes up online with ads soon after airing, etc.

Anyway, this isn't something I spend a lot of time thinking about, but recent announcements have made me start thinking we are headed to a real change. Smart TVs are becoming a thing--TVs that will allow you to access various streaming services (and more) and as such those services--in attempts to compete with one another are developing their own original programming. Netflix is launching House of Cards soon, Amazon is casting for their own pilots, and Hulu is saving soap operas. As if the plethora of cable channels and their various programs weren't enough, we now have this whole other avenue to watch TV. Basically our attention is even more divided than ever. (and this doesn't even take into account stuff like The Lizzie Bennett Diaries and other web series!)

I have complicated feelings about this. On the one hand, it's kind of exciting because it potentially presents new opportunities for different kind of shows. On the other hand, I wonder about things like Netflix releasing all of House of Cards at once. I love binge viewing as much as the next person, but I'm also the sort of person that values what TV can bring as a community experience. I kind of long for another show like Lost to pop up one day...a show that a lot of different sorts of people in my life watch and want to talk about and that is ambitious and fun. There's a part of me that wonders if such a show will or even could exist again. When you put an entire series up at once, there's no watercooler talk to be had, there's no space for an episode to settle in, because you watch more than one at a time. You experience the story in a very quick way, but really engaging with it would take a lot more intentional effort. And the continued fragmentation of our entertainment choices makes me sad in a way that would require a much different post to discuss.

Anyway, I wonder if we're headed towards a time where people will choose a streaming service as their primary means of TV entertainment based on what original programming they offer. I feel like there's change coming, but I don't know exactly what shape it will take.

Other TV Stuff

Speaking of pilots, at least two YA books are bound for pilots. (I think there's another on the CW as well, but it hasn't been released yet) Delirium by Lauren Oliver is being developed as is The Selection by Kiera Cass (which actually this will be the second pilot shot for that project) This is probably going to be a hugely unpopular opinion given what happened with the author of The Selection, but I think The Selection is much better source material than Delirium. It's not that The Selection is brilliant or anything, but the potential of the series is just a lot richer. The concept behind Delirium is much harder to buy into and the thematic material is a lot thinner. Basically feelings=good even if emotions are dangerous. But The Selection is kind of provocative in its thematic material and there's a lot of potential in the hands of the right writers. Females as commodities, misguided allegiance to country, distribution of wealth, celebrity culture, etc. Basically, even though the first book was kind of fluffy and light on these themes, there's tons of room to expand on them and they are actually relevant to our times in a way Delirium never felt like it was. Of course, I didn't read the second book in the Delirium series so it's possible things got more complex. Having said of all of this, I will laugh if The Selection gets ordered and I hate it considering how much I'm sort of dying to see it as a show!

Mostly reading about the shows headed for pilots depresses me because I just don't feel a lot of interest in them. I know I just said I long for another show like Lost but the assortment of ridiculous high concept ideas being ordered also call to mind shows like Terra Nova and Revolution. And the truth is I kind of like simpler shows that are more focused on relationships and everyday drama. That's the reason Nashville and Beauty and the Beast are the only shows from the new TV season I really like and even though B&tB is technically a procedural, it's mostly a show about a relationship.

I've also been enjoying The Carrie Diaries, though. I think the reason I'm able to enjoy it is because I was never really a fan of Sex and the City (I didn't dislike it, I only just saw the odd episode here and there) so I'm not disappointed by what's missing or what's been changed. In fact, I really liked what Amy B. Harris (the person that's really behind TCD) had to say about Carrie's dad being present:

We used her dad issues in one scene [in 'Sex and the City'] to kind of explain some issues she had with the Ron Rifkin character, but I personally never felt like it was quite as simple as a dad abandonment issue," says Harris. "Almost all of us in the writers' room, our parents were still together, and we were all totally dysfunctional and crazy in relationships. There are a lot of reasons for why women become afraid of abandonment, or prone to dysfunction.

Yes! Daddy issues are always the easiest and most cliche route to go. And while I don't know the SATC story, I really love that she sees the character as more complex than simple cause effect. I just think the show is really cute and I'm enjoying the music and the fashion. And AnnaSophia Robb is a very charismatic screen presence, I think it would be hard not love her!

Sorry for two TV posts in a row, but sometimes I have to write what I'm thinking about! Do you guys watch any original programming through non-traditional means? Will you watch House of Cards? Do you ever watch TV live at all anymore? Tell me all the details of your TV life! :)


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