TV Switch

Sean Thomas at The Telegraph:

From The Sopranos and The West Wing (the first great TV series of the new era) the Americans went on to make The Wire, Breaking Bad, House, Dexter, Grays, Walking Dead, Battlestar, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, etc etc etc; then the revolution spread to Scandinavia, with the Killing (a stupendously brilliant murder drama), Borgen, The Bridge; now the French are in on the act, with Spiral and The Returned, which you may be watching right now. […] It is, as I say, a cultural revolution: with precedents. In the way that TV drama is taking over from movies, as the most important arena of audiovisual art, it reminds me of the way the novel replaced the poem, as the primary literary form in the mid 19th century.

In broad outline, this thesis strikes me as irresistible. (I’d add Deadwood.)

July 25, 2013admin 26 Comments »
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26 Responses to this entry

  • AWC Says:

    Of all these series, I’ve only watched the Sopranos and Mad Men. Interestingly, both of these series started out as quite politically incorrect (which was titillating for bored SWPLs) but the temptation to make them more PC was just too great, which coincided with the decline of both series.

    Where else on TV could one watch something like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hq0j7heZ54U

    or this

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v_nvvydiIDY

    [Reply]

    Christopher Reply:

    Politically incorrect? On the contrary: two sterling exemplars of omnipresent (but hidden) White racism. But, yes, it titillated the ladies at the same time.

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    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 5:12 pm Reply | Quote
  • fotrkd Says:

    Who is Twin Peaks in this (neo-)cultural revolution?

    [Reply]

    fotrkd Reply:

    Damn (just thought) – apologies if Tibet related YouTube content presents difficulties!

    [Reply]

    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 6:32 pm Reply | Quote
  • Handle Says:

    The Japanese were there first with Ghost in the Shell.

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    spandrell Reply:

    Come on. The movies are n times better than the series.

    [Reply]

    Handle Reply:

    De gustibus non est disputandum I suppose. I prefer the series, and I thought SAC 2nd Gig was very well done.

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    Posted on July 25th, 2013 at 10:10 pm Reply | Quote
  • ErisGuy Says:

    Pity most of the shows glorify criminals and politicians.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Sociopaths are entertaining (even the Greeks knew that)

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    j. ont. Reply:

    A distressingly common theme throughout. Even The Wire has the narcissistic (borderline sociopathic) McNulty – never mind Omar and the street-level thugs (who mostly get killed in one way or another). I just finished watching House of Cards; perhaps the most blatant celebration of sociopathy I have seen on a “television” programme, but undeniably entertaining.

    Zizek has a thing about sociopaths on television; the success of the sociopathic antihero can be attributed to the audience’s desire to “be the person who can do what needs to be done” – in a Capitalist context, of course. He sees this as indicative of the immense strain the Capitalism places on the emotional subject; we admire the McNultys, Frank Underwoods, Don Drapers because these are the people who seem to function and maintain integrity in a world where most institutions demand personal compromise and steely resolve.

    But you’ll note that, in the case of The Wire at least, most of the real problems can be attributed to issues with bureaucracy (within the police department, at town hall, even amongst the drug dealers).

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    Posted on July 26th, 2013 at 1:12 am Reply | Quote
  • John Hannon Says:

    What about such excellent British contributions as The Thick of It … and …..
    yes, what about The Thick of It?

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    I hadn’t heard of this show before looking it up (just now). It’s compared with Yes Minister, which was notorious for being embedded in a Public Choice Theory perspective (and thus pointedly funny). Any ideas about the ideological commitments of this newer series?

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    John Hannon Reply:

    Although the show’s creator, Armando Iannuci, has been a Liberal Democrat supporter, it doesn’t display any ideological commitment as such, simply focusing on the absurdities of political obsession with spin and PR.

    As for it being compared to Margaret Thatcher’s favourite TV programme, Yes Minister, Gnon only knows what Maggie would have made of the torrents of gloriously inventive profanity for which The Thick of It is renowned (the show even employs a “swearing consultant’).

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    Posted on July 26th, 2013 at 4:49 am Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    When does Mad Men become PC? Damn it. The only reason I’ve been watching it is because it is so fucking not PC. The last episode I watched, Sterling lets loose a string of racist insults at the Japanese businessmen from Honda because he still can’t get over WW II. And the brilliant thing is that the show portrays his outburst in a very, very sympathetic way: the guy watched his friends die at the hands of the Japs, for Christ’s sake, so of course he is gonna be hostile toward them.

    Sailer recently mentioned that the most recent season shows a bunch of melanin-enhanced individuals wreaking havoc on the nice NYC of yore, so the show can’t possibly become THAT politically correct, can it?

    As admin says, Deadwood is a damn fine show.

    I also highly recommend Doc Martin, which is blatantly conservative. Doc Martin is a crusty old Tory doctor working as a GP in rural Cornwall. No token non-whites in the show; working-class Britain to the core. In one episode, a feminist nurse tries to persuade Martin’s fiance that male doctors are patriarchal, and Martin gives her the boot in one of the most anti-PC scenes I’ve ever seen from the BBC.

    And, of course, there’s this from Rescue Me:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egAMgNY84do

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    The weird thing about a lot of TV media output, is that the people involved on the creative side seem to subliminally know that quality is bound deeply to violations of political correctness. Even the most dogmatic liberals are drawn by this unspeakable psychic undercurrent into unexpected transgressions.

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    Posted on July 26th, 2013 at 5:42 am Reply | Quote
  • Scharlach Says:

    Here’s the Doc Martin episode I was talking about:

    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xv82d5_s4e6-doc-martin-midwife-crisis_lifestyle

    Feminist nurse: That’s a very male point of view.

    Martin: No, it’s not. It’s a fact.

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    Scharlach Reply:

    Scene in question starts around 31 mins.

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    Posted on July 26th, 2013 at 5:46 am Reply | Quote
  • Matt Olver Says:

    Breaking Bad quite popular in my parts. I’m still a fan of old classics viewed over Netflix like Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Twin Peaks. Sam Peckinpah’s The Rifleman is on local broadcast TV on the ‘man’ channel which I like catching.

    The Roku is a nice Internet TV device with a lot of Tech programming I’m a fan of. That’s the future of TV, I think, more Internet integration. Ron Paul is coming out with his own TV channel on the Internet: http://www.RonPaulChannel.com/ which I will be tuning into.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Ron.

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    Matt Olver Reply:

    Indeed. He’s been repeating this mantra since the U.S. went off the gold standard on August 15, 1971. Ron Paul decided he wanted to enter politics for that reason, finally broke through in 1976. He knew it would all lead to cases like Detroit, among other catasrophic events along the way. The solution is always competing currencies.

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    Posted on July 26th, 2013 at 11:27 am Reply | Quote
  • Thales Says:

    “(I’d add Deadwood.)”

    Al: Invisible messages from invisible sources, or what some people think of as progress.
    Dan: Ain’t the heathens used smoke signals all through recorded history?
    Al: How’s that a fucking recommendation?
    Dan: Well, it seems to me like, you know, letters posted one person to another is just a slower version of the same idea.
    Al: When’s the last time you got a fucking letter from a stranger?
    Dan: …bad news ’bout Pa.
    Al: “Bad news.” Tries against our interests is our sole communications from strangers, so by all means, let’s plant poles all across the country, festoon the cocksucker with wires to hurry the sorry word and blinker our judgments of motive, huh?
    Dan: …you’ve given it more thought than me.
    Al: Ain’t the state of things cloudy enough? Don’t we face enough fucking imponderables?

    — Al Swearengen on the cultural revolution of the telephone

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    It’s the closest we have to a contemporary Shakespeare.

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    fotrkd Reply:

    People used to complain when Austen was compared to Shakespeare.

    [Reply]

    admin Reply:

    Times have changed.

    Thales Reply:

    Given that a premise of Deadwood’s dialogue is that many individuals learned literacy by way of Austen, I’d say we’ve arrived at something here, but I’m not sure what.

    Candidly, Swearengen’s final line there is of great utility — I often find myself thinking it when admin starts questioning reality. Merely “kicking the stone” seems inadquate “refutation” by contrast.

    Posted on July 26th, 2013 at 1:55 pm Reply | Quote
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