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Feb 8, 2011

Enough about movies… TV is where it’s at!!!

I tried. I really did. Fletch is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and when he started this little movie blog so many years ago, I really wanted to participate. I hoped to be a regular commenter and eventually start contributing with my own posts. You regulars may have seen me around as the occasional commenter, "Buffett35." Then it hit me. At the risk of alienating the entire built-in fan base of this blog, I really do believe that feature-length films are a dying medium. That’s not to say that they’ll ever stop making them, but a new movie hasn't really wowed me since 1999, when both Fight Club and The Matrix were released.

I’m not saying I hate every 21st century film, but they just never live up to the hype. Fletch and Mrs. Fletch accuse me of being eternally negative, especially since I have similar feelings about music from this century. I assure you, that is not the case. I truly WANT to like everything I commit my free time to, and I can’t help it if that doesn’t always happen. The unwritten rule that movies must be of higher quality than TV shows because they cost more is outdated. Now that pay channels are in the game, production values are way up, and good character development takes a lot more than 2 or 3 hours. So, without further ado, I present myself as an expert on TV, and the mortal enemy of everything the great and powerful Fletch believes in. OK, so we generally have the same taste, but it'll be much more fun if we're enemies, right? My name, now and forever, is Mayday, and this is Mayday's Musings. If you recognize the classic television reference, you might just be old enough to appreciate my taste.

Let’s start with some lists. Everyone loves lists. I’ve had cable since the mid-80’s, so the volume of material I have to pull from is enormous. For now, let’s just stick to shows that are still airing new episodes. I lean towards the more adult fare found on HBO, Showtime, FX, and AMC, but the big 4 networks still control the airwaves and occasionally put out entertaining shows. Here’s what I’m currently watching, in alphabetical order:

Breaking Bad
Hawaii Five-0
Lights Out
The Middle
Modern Family
The Office
Parks & Recreation

You might have noticed Breaking Bad on that list, despite the fact that it’s between seasons, but I included it because I just started watching it a couple months ago when AMC began replaying every episode from the beginning. It’s fantastic, and I’m guessing I’ll be caught up just in time for the beginning of season 4. Then, there are several other shows, currently on hiatus, that I've seen every episode of, but I'm not sure if they'll all return:

Boardwalk Empire
Bored to Death
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Eastbound & Down
Flight of the Conchords
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
The League
Sons of Anarchy
The Walking Dead

That should give you a good idea of my taste. Of course, I watch a lot of news, food, home improvement, history, nature, and reality garbage too, and I may feel the need to comment on those from time to time, but it's for your own good. Oh yeah, and don't forget the several hundred shows from the past that I can draw on at any moment. The sheer volume of content is intimidating, I know, but please don't neglect my fearless leader's posts. Fletch's filmic knowledge is something to be worshipped. He's been asking me if I know who Elias Koteas is for at least 15 years. Let me know when he shows up on "Shameless" or "Boardwalk Empire." Book 'em Danno.

13 people have chosen wisely: on "Enough about movies… TV is where it’s at!!!"

Sebastian Gutierrez said...

What? No love for SPARTACUS??

Marc said...

Were you not wowed by Inception or even something that built slowly like No Country for Old Men?

Justified has me utterly hooked. Love it all but that intro song has to go:P Between that and House I don't have time for much but it's all I really need. Breaking Bad is growing on my though. Can't believe I missed The Walking Dead, but that's on the top of my list.

Great post btw!

P.S. A long time ago, Bryan Singer said he likes producing House because unlike a movie, you get to explore all the great characters and explore them beyond a 2 hours runtime. So true...and I think gives more credit to your idea that "feature-length films are a dying medium" Dying but not dead:P

Castor said...

TV does benefit from having a lot more time to build up characters and the premises indeed. But ultimately, I absolutely hate to wait an entire week to see the next bit of information ;)

Jason Soto said...

Well, you're a lot nicer than that kid vegas dude.

Honestly, I'm the othe way. There's not a whole lot of TV that I'm into. I watch all the NBC Thursday Night stuff, along with It's Always Sunny and some Adult Swim stuff. Also, huge Family Guy fan.

Hm, I sense I'm not winning you over. That's ok, Dylan wasn't a fan of mine at first but eventually I brainwashed him to think everything I say and do is hilarious and on point.

M. Hufstader said...

It's kind of an awful conclusion to come to, but a small, cynical part of me has to agree with you. I've definitely noticed that most of my movie reviews come from the 90s, because they're just the kids of movies I love. And sure, I've really enjoyed a handful of movies in the 21st century. But I've just enjoyed them, nothing changed my life like The Matix or Pulp Fiction. Classic fucking movies. I will lift up the Lord of the Rings trilogy as an exception, though.

In other news, TV musings are always exciting. Bored To Death and The Walking Dead are definitely two of my favorites at the moment.

Fletch said...

How dare you, Mayday! This is an outrage!! TV, the land of Outsourced and the Kardashians, better than the movies (note: please take Katherine Heigl from us)? Blashpemy!

TV and film are truly apples and oranges in the truest sense. They're both fruits, and they can both be found in fruit salad, but their differences are pretty vast, too. So much so that I don't know how effective it would be to argue that one medium is better than the other; I feel like arguing between baseball and reading would be just as moot. They each have their strengths and weaknesses, and plenty of both.

But yeah, to promote a rivalry between them (and us) would be more fun. :D

Marc - See, that's part of the problem, and Mayday mentioned it, kind of. He never goes to see anything in the theater, so by the time he bothers to watch any film, it's been blown up in his mind so much as to render it incapable of living up to the high standards of Rambo that he has built up in his head.

BTW, I LOVE the Justified intro song! Excellent mashup of two very distinct styles.

Castor - C'mon, you know the obvious answer to that criticism - TV on DVD (or Netflix). Not surprisingly, watching TV series in bulk (i.e. hammering out a season of LOST in three nights) is much, much more rewarding than spanning it out over 24 weeks, with memory lapses and commercials built-in.

Jason - LOL!!!!1!!11!

M. - To be hones, I'm probably not unlike you and Mayday in that regard as well. No film has broached the upper echelon of my favorites from the past 5 years, either, and only one (Eternal Sunshine) in the past ten, probably. This makes me think this has more to do with our places in life, our ages, and what we consumed at those points in life, than it has to do with the relative quality of a medium. Shit, in 15 years, I'll still look more fondly on Saved By the Bell and Demolition Man a hell of a lot more fondly than I will much better movies and TV shows from the past decade. I think that says a lot.

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of TV shows.

Really, the only ones I'm interested in right now that are still going are Community and Breaking Bad.

I'm also finally watching Pushing Daisies and need to get back into watching The X-Files.

Watching an episode for TV requires much more commitment and time investment that it's usually worth IMHO.

Mayday said...

@Sebastian: Nope, no love for Spartacus. Are you referring to "Blood and Sand" or "Gods of the Arena?" All the subtitles confuse me. I do take requests, but I prefer catching a show from the beginning.

@Marc: I haven't yet seen Inception, and I'm sure the wow-factor is diminishing with every day I don't see it. No Country is a perfect example of one that I was really looking forward to watching, but came away disappointed. I never got into House, but Justified, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead are near the top of my list at the moment. Thanks for the kind words.

@Castor: What Fletch said. I rarely watch anything when it first airs. I work late most nights, so the DVR is my best friend.

@Jason: Yeah, I heard about that Kid Vegas dude, but nice isn't exactly what I'm goin for. Thanks for the compliment, though. I never really considered myself a TV guy either until the past year or so (since I fell in love with my DVR). I was actually shocked to see how many shows I'm currently watching.

@M. Hufstader: It doesn't make me feel good to announce the death of film as we know it, but you took the words right outta my mouth. Matrix and Pulp left my jaw hanging open in awe on the first viewing. Haven't felt that in a while from a film.

@Fletch: What you got against Outsourced? It ain't groundbreaking or anything, but it ain't the Kardashians, either. Oh, and you can keep Heigl. I'm sure she's got a handful of crappy rom-coms in her before disappearing for good.

I see what you're selling with the apples and oranges defense, but I ain't buyin it. Maybe it was a mistake to say that the medium itself is dying. What I meant is that all the talent is leaving. There's nothing wrong with film itself, just the crap that makes up 99% of it. You're right, I rarely go to a theater (2 or 3 times a year maybe), but I don't see how that defends your point. I still like The Matrix, Fight Club, and Pulp Fiction just as much today as the first time I saw them.

I know you like to wax philosophically about the whole experience of going to a theater (especially the popcorn), but it just doesn't do anything for me. I'd much rather watch the same thing in my own living room on my own TV, preferably in my underwear. With the evolution of home entertainment systems, that's exactly where we're headed. Netflix will be the next Warner Bros. You heard it here first.

@cinemasights: Yeah, it is a lot. Like I said above, it even surprised me how many shows I watch. I remember wanting to check out Pushing Daisies when it was on. I never got around to it, and then it was gone. Since I know the show was cancelled, watching it now would just be setting myself up for disappointment. Never cared about X-files, although Duchovny's new show, Californication, looks interesting. That might be something to catch up with on Netflix. I understand what you're saying about the committment of watching a TV series, but, technically, if you just watch one episode and don't like it, it's less time wasted than a movie :)

Fletch said...

"There's nothing wrong with film itself, just the crap that makes up 99% of it."

Exaggerate much? There's just as much crap on TV - if not more - than there is at the theater. Please!

I don't think the way you experience the medium matters all that much. I know plenty of folks that would rather watch movies from home, for all of the reasons you mentioned. That doesn't make the quality of TV programming any better on its own, though. I'd probably rather watch my TV shows in a theater, too.

Netflix is already big and gonna get bigger, but they'll experience pushback (they have already) from the hands that feed them (i.e. Warner), since they are and will take away more from the DVD and rental markets. The studios don't like that - that's why Directv et al get the new releases weeks before Netflix and Redbox.

Mayday said...

You got me. I didn't calculate an accurate percentage of crap vs. non-crap on the big screen. Of course there's more crap on TV, because there's more of everything! There's something for everyone!

Your last paragraph is pretty irrelevant to the average movie watcher. Whether it's Netflix or DirecTV or Redbox or whoever, the point is that sending movies directly to our TV is the future, and we're gonna have a whole lot of empty movie theaters in the next 10 or 20 years. Let's come up with another use for those buildings and start buyin 'em up!

Fletch said...

My comments on Netflix are no more irrelevant than your comments on it. What does the delivery method of movies have to do with them being a dying medium? If you want to say that theaters are dying or going to be dying, I'd be more apt to buy that argument, but what do shuttering theaters have to do with the quality of the product?

Mayday said...

Nope, yours are irrelevanter. You're mixing up two different discussions now. Hell, I already retracted the "dying medium" statement. Theaters are dying because of a combination of low quality and improved home entertainment technology. How's that?

Fletch said...

Ok, missed the part where you retracted that. Yes, we're on the same page with theaters.