Quality Over Quantity in TV

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A Haven For Quality Writing

At cable’s inception, there was CNN for news, ESPN for sports, HBO for Movies and Cinemax for movies with boobs in it. That was pretty much the deal. Time and channel expansion have changed that.

For a time it seemed like the expansion to 400 channels would make the world of cable even less appealing and the quality would be thinly spread. It sure was throughout most of the 90’s.  For a show to have realistic dialogue and action, like the Soprano’s, it was necessary to put it on a pay channel. The direct result of that trend was to open up a breeding ground where the best writers and show-runners could tell great stories over a longer arc than maybe they could in a film.

Also, the tendency of networks such as HBO and more recently Showtime, is to have a more hands-off approach with producers than a network gernerally would. When you don’t have advertisers to answer to, the network executive’s first thought becomes “Is this show going to entertain and absorb an audience?,” rather than “Is this show going to sell Brawny’s absorbant paper towels?”

For quality examples of this freedom, try these programs.

Old School
-The Larry Sanders Show
-The Sopranos

New School
-The Wire


September 19, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. The quality of television or the lack of it has caused me to tune out. I can not deal with another reality show which brings out all the negative behavior in our society. People live in reality why do they have to STOP and watch it.

    Comment by lorihdarp | September 28, 2008

  2. i grew up without cable in my mom’s house, and for the last 3 years of highschool, basic cable and “whoops, how did i get showtime?” cable at my dad’s. i would have to make “cable dates” with friends just to be able to watch sex and the city. look at how different this show, for example, is on the WB at 12:30 AM vs. HBO. the show is called SEX and the city, for the love of god. but it loses all its goodness when it’s on a station that anybody could watch… though i’m not sure HBO shows are your top concern if your kid is up at 12:30 AM watching the WB. i admit, some programs on cable are a bit oh my god-ish. i watched californiacation at a friend’s house the other day, and david duchovny was doing to a woman something i never thought i’d see scripted on tv. after i got over my yow-za moment, however, i realized that this was more like reality than even “reality” tv is. and how does one go back to “desperate housewives” after watching a couple episodes of “big love” or “curb your enthusiasm”

    Comment by teeveehaha | October 28, 2008

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