Wednesday, June 12, 2013

TV and Storytelling

The Writer’s Guild of America recently released a list of the 101 best written TV series of all time. The list is—as all of these things are—highly debatable and a mere conglomeration of opinions. However, it is also highly interesting and thought provoking. For instance:

16 of the shows are currently airing, and over half of the best TV of all time aired in this millennium, within the past 13 years. Almost 10 percent are talk or variety shows. None are “reality shows.” 60% are hour-long programs. On a more personal level, I have seen every episode of exactly six of the series, but not a single episode of 43 of the series. So, my television IQ is not very high compared to the pop-culture experts. My own tentative top eleven list would be something more along the lines of:

11. The Twilight Zone

10. Seinfeld

9. Sherlock

8. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

7. A Nero Wolfe Mystery

6. Mr. Bean

5. Doctor Who

4. The Andy Griffith Show

3. Lost

2. The X Files

1. Columbo

In any case, television as a story telling medium has grown and developed over the years. In many ways it may be a better potential medium for storytelling than film these days. However, its cultural context is perhaps even more anchored in its own time, and its real zeitgeist and influence on culture is more limited and fragile.

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