Friday, September 18, 2009

I Miss My Rabbit Ears

It's September and that means...the new TV season is upon us.

When I was younger (much younger), I looked forward to the start of every new TV season. I'd read the reviews of the new shows and prepare my viewing strategy (no VCRs or TiVo back in the day). On several occasions, I remember circling the shows in the TV Guide to make sure I wouldn't miss any great entertainment.

Of course, back then, there were only three networks.

Now there are more channels--and more shows--than I could ever watch in my lifetime. Not that I want to; most of the shows don't appeal to me. But there are still enough crime dramas to keep me coming back to the boob tube.

Growing up watching crime dramas (as I did) undoubtedly helped foster my desire to write crime fiction.

Who can forget these gems:200px-Columbo

  • Mannix
  • Barnaby Jones
  • The Rockford Files
  • Banacek
  • Cool Million
  • Columbo
  • Starsky and Hutch
  • Baretta
  • Adam-12
  • Hawaii Five-O
  • McMillan & Wife
  • The FBI
  • Mission Impossible
  • I-SpyMcCloud
  • McCloud
  • Charlie's Angels (hey, there was crime on that show, wasn't there?)
  • The Six Million Dollar Man
  • The Bionic Woman
  • Hill Street Blues

I could go on. (Of course, my viewing wasn't limited to crime drama--I watched plenty of lawyer and doctor shows, too. And don't forget The White Shadow!)

Here's the thing: Back then, I loved those shows and thought they were great. Now, if I happen to catch an old rerun or two, I realize many of them were actually pretty cheesy.

So what's the explanation? Am I just more mature/more discerning now (i.e., I don't have time to waste watching mediocre shows)? Or are the shows really better written and better acted now?

What do you think?



Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think shows have gotten more sophisticated and we have, too!


Patricia Stoltey said...

Definitely better acting. And the movie/TV technology is so much better.

But what do I know. I've been a movie and television freak forever and I still am. Have absolutely no intention of giving them up, either. My newest TV favorite is The Mentalist.

Elspeth Futcher said...

It's sad how bad some of them were, isn't it? I watch very little TV. I don't like reality shows because I cringe with embarrassment for the participants. I'm not a teenager; which knocks a great many other shows out of contention. If it's well written, well-directed and well-acted I'll watch, which explains why I spend most of my viewing time watching DVDs of Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing.


Galen Kindley--Author said...

Are you kidding??? Just ask Jack; he’ll second my opinion. You are clearly more intelligent and discerning now than, well, anyone I know. Probably anyone on earth…except Jack, of course. In fact, I want to grow up to be just like you and have just yesterday sent for my, “Model Your Life After Alan Orloff Kit.” It costs a quarter and two box tops from Cheerios serial…pun intended. I’m not sure what all is in the kit, but, hey, it’s gotta be better than the Sadam Hussein kit that Jack ordered.

Best Regards, Galen
Imagineering Fiction Blog

Alan Orloff said...

Elizabeth - More sophisticated. I like your assessment! And true, of course.

Patricia - I agree. Better writing, better acting. Grittier, too.

Elspeth - Don't get me started on reality shows! (it wouldn't be pretty). I loved The West Wing, too.

Galen - When your kit arrives, please confirm that it is the "authorized" kit and not some pirated knock-off. I get a cut of every kit sold, you know!

And, speaking of Pirates (or speaking like Pirates), be sure to tune in tomorrow for a special Saturday post. Arggh!

Anna Marie said...

One might argue that the shows have gotten more sophisticated, or could it be we as a society are exposed to so much more real life crime that crime shows are simply keeping up with the times? With 24 hour news channels we certainly are subjected to a more graphic reality than we were exposed to on the tv news back in the day. Consequently, our current day television programs are a reflection of the nature of these crimes. One could not have imagined a program like Law and Order SVU 30 years ago. With such explicit content, it would have been considered scandalous. Today we watch and don't blink an eye. The times have changed, not the level of sophistication.

By the way, you left Cannon off your list. :o)

Alan Orloff said...

Well put, Anna Marie. Not good for society, but good for TV crime dramas. Small consolation, I guess.

Yes, Cannon! William Conrad was pretty spry for a man of large carriage.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

I have experienced the same thing, sir. I suspect that a lot of it has to do the much-increased production values on modern TV shows. The audio has actual bass, and computer special effects are more or less widespread.

Of course, some of it could be that you have grown in spirit and intellect as a human being, and are in a better position nowadays to detect telecheese.

Craig Hart said...

First of all, my "it’s gotta be better than Sadam Hussein" kit was everything it said it was. It was definitely better. Not much better, but...well, I don't know. It actually was pretty horrible and I demanded my money back. Or maybe that's not what Galen meant...HEY!

I'm not sure why old shows seem so much cheesier. First, in the early days of television they were still learning and, second, I think people were easier to please back then.

The best shows today are definitely better than the best shows back then. On the other hand, the worst shows today are often worse than the worst shows back then. If you know what I mean...