I've noticed over the last few years that television has been evolving. When it comes to screenwriting, I think the very best material you can find is on the small screen. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that, in television, the writer runs the show.

But there now seem to be two types of television shows. At least in the drama department. The first is the typical set-bound, artificial looking show. Then you have the shows that seem more open and movie-like.

For example, on the one hand you have Boston Legal, which feels very old fashioned to me (although I think it's well written and fun to watch), then on the other you have shows like Rescue Me that really have that hip, movie feel to them.

I'm not sure what the reason is for this, but it seems as if we're in a transition phase. I can remember back when we had shows like Mannix and Ironside, which had a completely different feel than the shows that followed a decade later. Then we moved into the era of Rockford Files, still very televisiony (I think I just made up a word), but brilliant nonetheless.

Now, with shows like Law and Order, Rescue Me, Deadwood, 24, The Black Donnellys, Heroes and Lost, the movieization (another made up word) of television seems to be well underway.

Until we hit a throwback like Raines.

Don't get me wrong. I love Jeff Goldblum and am a huge Frank Darabont fan, and I think the show has a lot of potential. But it feels like old-fashioned television to me. Too "safe" maybe.

What do you guys think?

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I think cinematic TV is an answer to public realization that "traditional" TV is not realistic. Honestly, this may be an owed to 9/11 and later disasters - the idea that there is no neat cleanup; the effects of something catastrophic, be it a murder or the death of a child or what have you, last a long, long time.

I would put Law & Order, incidentally, under the "traditional" mantle. Despite the dates on the episodes, the entire case is still resolved within an hour - often in a positive way. This may even be one reason why the show jumped the shark recently. On the other hand, shows like "The Shield" and the others you mentioned have season-long arcs that often refer back to prior seasons.
I loved Raines. And not just b/c I love Jeff Goldblum and have missed him all these years. I thought the premise was hip and though not original (Monk meets Ghost Whisperer), I felt it had more depth than the average crime show. Maybe it's the writer/detective aspect. Instead of taking to the characters in the books he wanted to write, he works out the crime through the victims. Old-fashioned? Probably, but I've been around a while, and though I noticed that it was somewhat old-fashionesque, it didn't bother me. I give it a thumbs up.
I think this has been going forever. There has always been (and may always be, who knows?) the "tradiontal" TV dramas. They cater to a certain demo that buys certain products. And that's what TV always comes down to - the ad revenue.

A show can stay on the air without huge ratings, so long as it nails a certain demo. JJ Abrams' FELICiTY and ALIAS never won their nights, rarely even won their time slots, but they kicked ass in one particular demo, and the WB and ABC made fortunes selling to advertisers for that demo.

Don't believe it when you hear a network telling you they're sticking with a show simply because it's so good. If they're not hitting at least some demo well, they will kill it. The days of Brandon Tartikoff are long gone.

Oh, and I said I think this has always been going on - this transition. Look back at what the Tinker/Paltrow/Milcho/Bochco group did to TV with ST. ELSEWHERE, and then HILL STREET. Then Mann change the way everyone thought you could do TV with MIAMI VICE. Simon and Fontanan's HOMICIDE spawned an entire style of filmmaking for TV - one that Milch and Bochco take credit for, but it was HOMICIDE.

RESCUE ME is nothing more than a male SEX AND THE CITY, but it convinces people it's something more because of the firefighter aspect. THE SHIELD, I think, was more of a genre-bending show. The fact that FX allowed what was supposedly a lead character to be killed in the pilot was HUGE. It shocked the industry. Les Moonves said it would kill the network. What it did was make it the single most successful basic cable net in history.

TV evolves like everything else. There will always be ebbing and flowing, new shows pushing the edge from what we've seen because that's just how life is. Technology changes, cars change, housing changes, and on and on.
Personally I'm getting a little too tired of the shows that take themselves too seriously, or are more of the same old, same old. (I have been a longtime L&O SVU fan, but frankly, if I miss it, no biggie. Overload, I guess. And who can slog their way through CSI whatever version?)

I watched Raines, and while I thought it was well acted, (and count me in with the JG fans) I didn't think it was anything I would go out of my way for. In other words: would I bother to set the DVR so I can watch it while I work out, do the dishes, etc?

I'm not sure I watch enough TV to comment on movieiaztion or whatever. I just want to be entertained. And if they are doing the same old, same old, then give me fresh characters that bring something to the screen that make that same old seem new and exciting. (Can you say: Veronica Mars? House?) For good old pure entertainment, Monk, Psych.

And for my latest most awesome, how can anyone not be watching it? BBCs ROBINHOOD. This show has it all. Crime, murder, politics, and best of all, despite the seriously good acting, it does not take itself too seriously. Great, great show.
The sexier shows have a continuing story line which provides for a more driving narrative if they're any good. I would contend that Rescue Me is different from Sex and the City because Tommy is truly a tragic figure as are other characters on the show. Although it does deal too often with male sex lives.
I am growing weary of having to invest so much in these shows. If you miss an episode, you're out of the loop. But the other ones do seem very old-fashioned. I think there is room for something in the middle-with a long narrative arc but individual storylines.
I think there's very much a blurring between large and small screen right now. The market is shifting. There's more competition from new areas, like the internet, as well as from more competing channels, especially ones that focus to a certain demographic like Lifetime catering to women and romance (Blood Ties) or the Sci-Fi Channel, which has found success in reimagining old shows (Battlestar Galatcica). I think you're seeing a lot more experimentation now than ten or fifteen years ago.

Not to say that, as Guyot put it, the ebb and flow hasn't always been going on. There's always going to be experimentation and there always has been. But I think right now there's a lot more of it than in recent times. And I think there's always going to be the "traditional" shows as well as the more experimental ones.
I think there's a lot to say for the first point. A big difference between television and movies is the fact that the writer is in charge in tv.

Can anyone tell me how long this has been the case? It would be interesting to see how this developed. Was there a time when it wasn't the case?
I say we invite Robert Ward and ask him. When I interviewd him a few months ago he was very gracious with his answers and always in depth & informative answers.
Yes and no.

There are quite a few film directors that also handle writing duties, or at least co-writing.

I would also guess that there are plenty of TV shows in which the stories are dictated by the producers, then left to the writers to flesh out.

I would agree with Stephen's statement that there is a blurring of lines between the big and small screen.

Digital cameras have had a huge impact on the look film and television.
In TV, the producers ARE writers. Every time you see a producer credit, 9 1/2 times out of 10 you're looking at a writer.
"A big difference between television and movies is the fact that the writer is in charge in tv."

Only to a degree. One trend that counters this is the networks' ownership of shows. ABC owns "Lost," and the producers have admitted in interviews that they don't control when the story ends. This means that they'll drag out the mystery as long as the viewers will stand for it. That's one reason why the show's been disappointing to some; because they've no intention of resolving any of the mysteries until they have to.
I don't know how the money works in TV (Guyot will probably say this comment is off-base, and he'll be right), but in my experience, shooting anything with a "look" is more expensive than doing straight storytelling camera work, on top of which, interesting composition and shot flow is more expensive (because of the planning involved) than shooting straight coverage.

So maybe this is as much a budget issue as anything else. But as I said, I don't know how this works in TV.


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