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best tv show EVER

How can cultural elitists like ourselves put TV in the Culture category? Well, where the hell else is it going to fit?

Postby TAsunder » Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:28 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Lemme rephrase for you: You like newer shows better.


If going by percentage of shows on the air at the time, I can't imagine anyone would actually say we are better off now. The sheer number of channels and shows airing right now means that there are a lot more winners, but it seems to me that your chances of randomly surfing and finding a show you like are a lot lower now than ever.

With radio, it's even worse. They've got HAL 9000 running the stations these days. Not the good and normal HAL back at Mission Control. Nor even am I referring to HAL 9000 who could beat me in a game of chess and speak coherently. I'm talking about HAL 9000 just a few moments before total higher brain function disconnect, the HAL who sang for Dave.

Oh, and Arrested Development has been proven to be the most overrated thing to ever hit the airwaves.
I proved it myself by watching it after hearing how it was the greatest show ever and discovering it actually wasn't terribly impressive or innovative or groundbreaking at all, so no link is necessary.


When did you complete your work? I'm filing for a patent on my invention: "Device to recite proof that Arrested Development is the most overrated show ever aired" and am suddenly worried that there might be prior work.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Dec 13, 2007 6:41 pm

TAsunder wrote:
Oh, and Arrested Development has been proven to be the most overrated thing to ever hit the airwaves.
I proved it myself by watching it after hearing how it was the greatest show ever and discovering it actually wasn't terribly impressive or innovative or groundbreaking at all, so no link is necessary.


When did you complete your work? I'm filing for a patent on my invention: "Device to recite proof that Arrested Development is the most overrated show ever aired" and am suddenly worried that there might be prior work.

Sounds like you've already done a lot of the heavy lifting, so if you want to publish a joint paper, I'll gladly be the Alfred Russel Wallace to your Darwin.
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Postby Maxine » Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:15 pm

Best shows ever: "Mork and Mindy", "Reba", "Sewing with Nancy", "I'll Fly Away" and "Meet the "Press"". It's all about balance, people.
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Postby Shipley » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:40 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
Shipley wrote:Well its kind of proven that television writing and production values are better now than they've ever been.
Proven? It's proven? Got a link to that study? How do you even go about proving that writing is better now than ever? What does that even mean?


The book is called "Everything Bad is Good For you" by Steven Johnson and it studies television and movies of today compared to those of yesterday and directly contrasts plot development, complexity of characters and the education and cultural background that viewers have to mee to even understand and keep track of all that stuff is worlds ahead of classic TV. Andy Griffith had one plot thread. Hill Street Blues had 5 on a good night. LOST, 24, Arrested Development, Sopranos, etc all require massive attention to detail and plot threads that number in the dozens. An event in an episodes might reference 3 or 4 past events from an episode a year ago, and the memory and comprehension demands far exceed that of any show in decades prior.
Think of how some opponents of Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show say they're silly and sophmoric but in order to get any of that humor, you have to actually WATCH the news and be aware of the world around.
None of that was in the older sitcoms.
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Postby Maxine » Thu Dec 13, 2007 9:55 pm

Shipley wrote:
Think of how some opponents of Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show say they're silly and sophmoric but in order to get any of that humor, you have to actually WATCH the news and be aware of the world around.
None of that was in the older sitcoms.


Yeah, "All In The Family", or as they would call it today, "All In Teh Family" was completely devoid of any current event references.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:33 pm

Shipley wrote:The book is called "Everything Bad is Good For you" by Steven Johnson and it studies television and movies of today compared to those of yesterday and directly contrasts plot development, complexity of characters and the education and cultural background that viewers have to mee to even understand and keep track of all that stuff is worlds ahead of classic TV. Andy Griffith had one plot thread. Hill Street Blues had 5 on a good night. LOST, 24, Arrested Development, Sopranos, etc all require massive attention to detail and plot threads that number in the dozens. An event in an episodes might reference 3 or 4 past events from an episode a year ago, and the memory and comprehension demands far exceed that of any show in decades prior.
Think of how some opponents of Stephen Colbert and The Daily Show say they're silly and sophmoric but in order to get any of that humor, you have to actually WATCH the news and be aware of the world around.
None of that was in the older sitcoms.


Well, that's all well and good, but your conclusion -- TV is better now -- is based entirely on the assumption that "plot development, complexity of characters and the education and cultural background that viewers have to mee to even understand and keep track of all that stuff" are somehow equivalent to "better writing", which is still nothing more nor less than someone's opinion. For my money, the simplicity of, say, Fawlty Towers - both in characterization and in plotting - is far preferable in a half-hour comedy format than "plot threads that number in the dozens." Heck, one could just as easily argue that all those extra plot threads constitute poor, unfocused writing as any great leap forward.

As far as hour-long dramas go, the soap opera format (lots of characters and stories developing over many episodes or even seasons) isn't necessarily an improvement either. For example, the wife and I cringe every time we're forced to endure Law and Order: SVU scenes about Det. Stabler's family life or Det. Benson's turmoil about her mother's rape, but we have to because the days of hour-long mystery shows focused on the case and not the detectives pretty much don't exist anymore. You may think that's an improvement, but Perry Mason, Columbo, Secret Agent and hosts of others all delivered the goods.

And the goofiest claim of all is that television is automatically superior if it expects its audience to be educated or cultured. Not that I don't appreciate intelligent, culturally aware writing, but what snobbery! Tell me, what's "intelligent" about physical comedy or goofy sit-com situations? After you've told me, go tell Dick Van Dyke and Bob Newhart.

So essentially, your claim is faulty from the get-go. You've begun the discussion by making an assumption for which there's only one possible conclusion -- TV writing is at its best when its most like it is today -- and not surprisingly, that just happens to be the conclusion you prefer. And on top of all that, to make your case, you essentially have to completely ignore the vast heaping pile of absolute garbage which constitutes about 99% of shows broadcast today.

To summarize your approach to proof:
Step 1. Declare your personal preference to be superior. (Rocky road is the best ice cream flavor.)
Step 2. Make an assumption for which there is no justification except personal preference. (Ice cream tastes better when it has a combination of flavors.)
Step 3. Declare your opinion fact, based on the faulty assumption made in Step 2. (Rocky road is the best ice cream flavor because it's a combination of flavors and not just plain ol' chocolate or vanilla.)
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Postby fennel » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:50 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:Well, that's all well and good, but your conclusion...

Damn. You get my vote, Professor.

Now, if you could just clarify the difference between a T.V. and a microwave oven, I'd be mighty obliged.

In the meantime, I'll endeavor to remind myself that T.V. really can offer more benefit than a hot carnuba wax enema. If only I could remember where I stowed that old microwave and rabbit-ears ...
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Thu Dec 13, 2007 10:57 pm

fennel wrote:Now, if you could just clarify the difference between a T.V. and a microwave oven, I'd be mighty obliged.

Microwave oven shows generally only last for 1-5 minutes, as opposed to 30-60, and they're much more likely to have animals and cheese in the starring roles, as opposed to Bill Bixby.
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Postby TAsunder » Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:15 am

OK, this time I am talking about arrested development. People who for some reason like this show and wouldn't mind owning it for a reasonable price might want to head on over to amazon... all three seasons for $30 total right now. I always have a hard time giving stuff I don't like as a gift to someone else, but I might have to make an exception here.
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Postby Shipley » Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:01 am

My friend told me he hated AD and told me again.

and then he finally sat down and watched it. Realized that it was great, finally got over himself. I think it was Michael Cera's turn in Superbad that made him do it.

I'll stand by my previous comment that cultural literacy breeds smarter TV, and that smarter is better.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:27 pm

Shipley wrote:I'll stand by my previous comment that cultural literacy breeds smarter TV, and that smarter is better.
And I'll stand by my previous comment that you're entitled to your opinion, but that's all it is -- an opinion, not "proven" as you originally claimed. I'll take the "dumb" comedy of Uncle Miltie over the "smart, cultural" comedy of Dennis Miller any day and I know I'm not alone.

And for the record, I don't hate Arrested Development, I'm just not convinced it's the most revolutionary and exciting thing to happen on TV in years, as it's overzealous fanboys (I've never met a woman who feels so strongly about it) would have us believe.
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Postby Shipley » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:37 pm

I've know several women who loved the show, including the one who introduced me to it.

But, who is and isn't a woman is merely my opinion.
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Postby Prof. Wagstaff » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:38 pm

Shipley wrote:But, who is and isn't a woman is merely my opinion.
:lol:
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Postby rrnate » Fri Dec 14, 2007 3:39 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:
Shipley wrote:But, who is and isn't a woman is merely my opinion.
:lol:


My special lady Emily is quite keen on AD.
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Postby TAsunder » Fri Dec 14, 2007 4:54 pm

Prof. Wagstaff wrote:And for the record, I don't hate Arrested Development, I'm just not convinced it's the most revolutionary and exciting thing to happen on TV in years, as it's overzealous fanboys (I've never met a woman who feels so strongly about it) would have us believe.


My GF and her coven of friends all enjoy it quite a bit. They aren't as rabid about it as they are Sex and the City but it surprised me, because I too thought it was a "guy" type of show.

If you replace AD with Firefly in the above quote it applies equally; though with Firefly I would say I kind of like it, just nowhere near as much as the rabid fans who proclaim it the greatest science fiction of all time and believe that everyone who was instrumental in its cancellation will burn in the lower levels of hell.
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