I like TV.
Okay, I should amend that to some TV. Like many things, moderation is important. But I remember seeing those “Kill your television” bumper stickers when I was a kid and feeling a little sad. I understand the idea behind them, but don’t throw out the good stuff because there’s some bad stuff.
I’ll recognize that some shows are complete and total trash. There are also a lot of trashy books (Harlequin now has a NASCAR romance novel division. I’m not making this up.). Solution – don’t watch them; don’t read them. Imagine if everyone did that…a world without Jersey Shore. Awesome.
I like TV because I’m a story nerd. But I don’t believe that story is a medium that should be reserved exclusively for books.
Television is excellent at telling stories. Think about it: a movie will give you two hours with a group of characters and a plot. Two hours to get to know and love them, and to care about their fate. And for all but the most skilled of filmmakers, it simply isn’t enough time.
On TV, you can get to know characters over the course of years, and see them go through life changes. As a writer, it’s a fantastic chance to write a long term plot, one that can play out completely without having to be abbreviated because of time constraints.
Of course, the risk here is that if your show is doing well, it can be tempting to throw story integrity to the wind and drag the show on for years…far beyond the point that the story should’ve ended.
But despite that risk, there are still some great shows on the air. My current faves are:
1. Community – I want to hug these writers. The cast works perfectly together, and the writing is fantastic. And there’s a rumor that it will only be around for four years – by choice. It makes sense: when they’re done with college, the show ends. No shark jumping there.
2. Castle – It’s a really old show premise, but it’s done well. And Castle (as a writer, naturally) occasionally makes incredibly awful grammar puns. Excellent.
3. Psych – Another crime show, but the focus is the friendship between Sean and Gus, which is what drives the show. Which is also what makes it hilarious.
4. Doctor Who – I still miss the David Tennant/Russell T. Davies years, but Matt Smith is growing on me.
What are your favorites and why?