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The Brilliant Imagination of American Television


Argus

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Who says they don't still got it? Who says American television can't come up with startling new concepts and brilliant new storylines? With new and clever characters replete with cutting edge material?

Yes, Law and Order - Los Angeles - starts this fall. What a concept! Yes, yes, I know there've already been about 1000 episodes of the various Law and Order shows, but this one is in Los Angeles! They have different crimes there, like er, murder and drug dealing! The detectives will be younger and sexier,kinda like CSI, and they'll get to wear cooler outfits. Cause it's Los Angeles!

Hey, I was bored with Law and Order, but I definitely want to watch this. I can hardly wait!

God knows what those genius writers will come up with next. I mean, I thought creating NCIS - Los Angeles, was the height of cleverness. I mean, who would have known that the NCIS peple in LA would drive sports cars and wear sports shirts and have such a cool headquarters compared to their staid, dull, suit-wearing Washington version? No doubt the same is true of the cops in LA. And I'm hoping the producers get the best possible models actors to fill the roles of the new detectives and lawyers.

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I'd like to add, that we can at anytime stop all these 'reality tv' shows as well as the fake reality tv shows.

You mean there is such a thing as "real reality TV show"? Heck, most of the home improvement TV shows on HGTV, like Holmes on Homes and those awful "fix it up and flip it" types of shows (somehow they still show them despite the bottom falling out of the whole borrow-and-profit home flipping scheme) look to one degree or another pre-scripted. The whole thing is a scam to sneak shows past the Writers and Screen Actors Guilds, but these shows should really be defined as improvisational comedy/drama employing loose scripting and unskilled or semi-skilled actors.

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God knows what those genius writers will come up with next. I mean, I thought creating NCIS - Los Angeles, was the height of cleverness. I mean, who would have known that the NCIS peple in LA would drive sports cars and wear sports shirts and have such a cool headquarters compared to their staid, dull, suit-wearing Washington version? No doubt the same is true of the cops in LA. And I'm hoping the producers get the best possible models actors to fill the roles of the new detectives and lawyers.

I can't really say I watch much network TV any more. HBO is still capable of putting out some reasonably interesting stuff like Curb Your Enthusiasm (which I view as Seinfeld Without Censors), but the main networks have pretty much collapsed into endless recycling. But it's not an illness restricted to TV, Hollywood is getting just as bad, and the poor economy has only accelerated the endless stream of remakes. I mean, would anybody seriously thought the A-Team was worthy of a big screen adaptation even fifteen years ago?

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You mean there is such a thing as "real reality TV show"? Heck, most of the home improvement TV shows on HGTV, like Holmes on Homes and those awful "fix it up and flip it" types of shows (somehow they still show them despite the bottom falling out of the whole borrow-and-profit home flipping scheme) look to one degree or another pre-scripted. The whole thing is a scam to sneak shows past the Writers and Screen Actors Guilds, but these shows should really be defined as improvisational comedy/drama employing loose scripting and unskilled or semi-skilled actors.

Just so. This becomes even more obvious with the "teen drama" reality shwos which have become quite popular. They are, to a large degree, scripted...and poorly so.

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You mean there is such a thing as "real reality TV show"? Heck, most of the home improvement TV shows on HGTV, like Holmes on Homes....

H on H is actually Canadian produced dreck....Americans can always tell because the provinces always plaster their government sponsorship in big letters at the end. American television and cable networks have enough imagination for continued popularity in Canada and many other nations.

Toronto, ON (February 8, 2009) – SUPER BOWL XLIV is the most-watched SUPER BOWL ever with a record audience of 6.7 million viewers in Canada on CTV (6.025 million) and RDS (650,000) last night.

Preliminary overnight data from BBM Canada confirms that the New Orleans Saints' 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday is the second biggest audience for any broadcast on Canadian television since 1994.* Overall, an astonishing 16.64 million viewers – or one in two Canadians – tuned in to some or all of the broadcast on CTV or RDS.
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I'm mistaken. They can be creative. There's a new show coming out this fall called Hawaii Five O. Apparently it's about police in Hawaii. Brilliant idea. Quite innovative.

Edited by Argus
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I don't see a problem with this in particular. People get certain types of shows they like, particular series run for a few seasons, then end, and people are happy if spinoffs or similar shows are created so they can continue to enjoy what they enjoy.

I mean, would you have complained about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it's just the same old captains and phasers, but now on a space station instead of a star ship? Would you have complained about Xena because it "just like" Hercules except that it stars girls instead of guys? There were lots of people who liked those shows, and just wanted to keep watching something similar. Sorry for the nerdy references lol...

Anyway, I don't personally like (have never watched an episode) of any of these law and order shows, but it seems to me to be the same kind of thing.

Not every TV series has to be unique. Originality is great, but sometimes people just want something comfortable, familiar, entertaining.

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I don't see a problem with this in particular. People get certain types of shows they like, particular series run for a few seasons, then end, and people are happy if spinoffs or similar shows are created so they can continue to enjoy what they enjoy.

I mean, would you have complained about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it's just the same old captains and phasers, but now on a space station instead of a star ship? Would you have complained about Xena because it "just like" Hercules except that it stars girls instead of guys? There were lots of people who liked those shows, and just wanted to keep watching something similar. Sorry for the nerdy references lol...

Anyway, I don't personally like (have never watched an episode) of any of these law and order shows, but it seems to me to be the same kind of thing.

Not every TV series has to be unique. Originality is great, but sometimes people just want something comfortable, familiar, entertaining.

True. I see nothing particularly wrong with entertainment-as-distraction; of entertainment that doesn't achieve a level of "higher" artistry. It's got its place in the culture.

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I don't see a problem with this in particular. People get certain types of shows they like, particular series run for a few seasons, then end, and people are happy if spinoffs or similar shows are created so they can continue to enjoy what they enjoy.

I mean, would you have complained about Star Trek: Deep Space Nine because it's just the same old captains and phasers, but now on a space station instead of a star ship? Would you have complained about Xena because it "just like" Hercules except that it stars girls instead of guys? There were lots of people who liked those shows, and just wanted to keep watching something similar. Sorry for the nerdy references lol...

Anyway, I don't personally like (have never watched an episode) of any of these law and order shows, but it seems to me to be the same kind of thing.

Not every TV series has to be unique. Originality is great, but sometimes people just want something comfortable, familiar, entertaining.

True. I see nothing particularly wrong with entertainment-as-distraction; of entertainment that doesn't achieve a level of "higher" artistry. It's got its place in the culture.

I agree with these 2, each up and coming generation wants their own version of life portrayed. Since we really aren't all that different, well, in comes redundancy. And, entertainment has its place and time although I don't watch much t.v. myself and find I am happier and more productive when I don't have cable or its equivalent.

Got'ta say though, very well played sarcasm Argus. :) I love a good play with words.

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Wouldn't blame it on Americans.

Canadian Idol and Canada's Next Top Model hurray!!!

Also know a bunch of Canadian peeps who tune into the evolutionary garbage can that is Jersey shore.

Exactly. Crap is crap everywhere...and lots of people like it.

And like I said--even though I really despise the three programs you mention--all in all, mindless entertainment has its place.

Edited by bloodyminded
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True. I see nothing particularly wrong with entertainment-as-distraction; of entertainment that doesn't achieve a level of "higher" artistry. It's got its place in the culture.

What I object to is entertainment that's repetitive and insults my intelligence. You know what the difference is between NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles? The federal agents in the latter show dress in t-shirts and leather jackets and drive sports cars. Apparently, even if you are a federal agent working for the navy, if you're in Los Angeles you don't ever have to dress up!

But then we know the American military is very broad minded about what it's employees wear while at work.

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Wouldn't blame it on Americans.

Canadian Idol and Canada's Next Top Model hurray!!!

Also know a bunch of Canadian peeps who tune into the evolutionary garbage can that is Jersey shore.

Anyone who watches those shows should be sterilized so they don't breed.

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What I object to is entertainment that's repetitive and insults my intelligence. You know what the difference is between NCIS and NCIS Los Angeles? The federal agents in the latter show dress in t-shirts and leather jackets and drive sports cars. Apparently, even if you are a federal agent working for the navy, if you're in Los Angeles you don't ever have to dress up!

But then we know the American military is very broad minded about what it's employees wear while at work.

:)

All true, and in my defense of banal entertainment, I didn't bother expressing my ambivalence, nor my hatred.

Because you're right, of course, and actually I mis-spoke. There are good ideas, good writers, good actors. Television could be much better. Look at the differenc in police procedurals, say between CSI: Miami and Dexter. The former gives us attractive people working in dimly-lit labs, with style-soaked camera zooms irrelevantly showing bullets entering flesh or the like--for no good reason whatsoever, except that it looks "kind of cool."; the latter is a meditation on crime and morality itself, and raises interesting questions about justice, violence, family dynamics, and the highly complicated issues of responsibility. Dexter isn't high art, but it's at an entirely different level. (And is more entertaining, in my view).

And of course there's The Sopranos, which too gave us actual writing and real acting, and even sometimes went for subtlety. A novel idea.

There have been several high-quality programs, especially over the past ten or fifteen years (mostly thanks to HBO), so it's not as if anyone can claim there's no audience for it.

Edited by bloodyminded
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For the record, Canadian television has produced some of the worst entertainment possible, sometimes surpassing the imagination of how bad these things can be.

I am not kidding or exaggerating.

The show was produced as a daily show, and aired weekday afternoons at 3:30 pm from September 14, 1970.[2] The economic and time pressures of producing 130 episodes in a single season (seven shows were filmed every five days) meant cheap, wobbly sets, no outdoor filming, a laugh track instead of a live studio audience, the use of single takes, the reuse of 25-year-old radio scripts, and other shortcuts that resulted in a poor-quality product. Even flubbed lines and bloopers sometimes ended up airing, because the show couldn't afford retakes.

That is correct - 130 episodes in a season.

A book I read included Diane Nyland's description of her (successful) audition for the part, immediately after which the producers told her. "Ok, come on - we're going to tape the first season right now." And they told her what she was wearing was fine for wardrobe.

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Most shows are a derivative of something or another...most couple sitcoms are rehashed "I love Lucy", or for Bush Cheney's better understanding, "The Trouble with Tracy"....

Lost? >The Prisoner

ER, Grays Anatomy etc, >Dr Kildare

Star Trek >Wagon Train

How I met your mother >Friends> Newhart

Boston Legal > Street legal > Storefront lawyers

etc etc etc

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How I met your mother >Friends> Newhart

You had me until that one.

I'm still scratching my head.

OK - since we're paying homage to our Hollywood friends to the south. ( Hollywood is NOT America btw but its own planet. )...

What are the most original fictional television shows you can think of ? No Googling.

In no order.

1. Twin Peaks (Peyton Place meets Surrealist Art Movie meets camp comedy)

2. Fernwood Tonight (improvised faux local talk show ?)

3. My World and Welcome To It (Very literate sitcom, based on the writings of James Thurber)

4. Leave it to Beaver (It started out as a kid's point of view on the adult world)

5. Seinfeld and Seinfeld II, Curb Your Enthusiasm

6. Roots (Historical pulp drama, and the first mini series)

7. All-in-the-Family (comedic controversial scenes "taped before a live audience")

8. Playhouse 90 (fine quality dramas filmed for television)

9. The Simpsons (shattered the jokes-per-minute barrier)

10. The Littlest Hobo (Sparse, slow moving and soul-drenching drama. Ingmar Bergman shot the first 8 seasons)

honourable mention to Monty Python's Flying Circus

Edited by Michael Hardner
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You had me until that one.

I'm still scratching my head.

OK - since we're paying homage to our Hollywood friends to the south. ( Hollywood is NOT America btw but its own planet. )...

What are the most original fictional television shows you can think of ? No Googling.

In no order.

1. Twin Peaks (Peyton Place meets Surrealist Art Movie meets camp comedy)

2. Fernwood Tonight (improvised faux local talk show ?)

3. My World and Welcome To It (Very literate sitcom, based on the writings of James Thurber)

4. Leave it to Beaver (It started out as a kid's point of view on the adult world)

5. Seinfeld and Seinfeld II, Curb Your Enthusiasm

6. Roots (Historical pulp drama, and the first mini series)

7. All-in-the-Family (comedic controversial scenes "taped before a live audience")

8. Playhouse 90 (fine quality dramas filmed for television)

9. The Simpsons (shattered the jokes-per-minute barrier)

10. The Littlest Hobo (Sparse, slow moving and soul-drenching drama. Ingmar Bergman shot the first 8 seasons)

I happened upon an episode of "All in the Family" not too long ago (just by chance...I'm not an "oldies tv" sort of guy), in which a young man tried to rape Edith.

It was a long, painful, surprisingly intense scene.

Similarly, there was an episode of "Maude" in which Maude has an abortion.

I would suggest that both these scenarios are literally unthinkable in contemporary mainstream situation comedies. If someone were to be victim of an attempted sexual assault, it would be brief and unbelievable, with no psychological consequences for the intended victim; and when a character gets pregnant (as they often do), the unequivocal result is always a baby.

Perhaps they've lost their guts.

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