CC2K

The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Television Collision: Why TV Is (Sometimes) Better Than Movies

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer


Image Because today is my birthday, I want to celebrate with you the birth of my precious, little column as well and therefore present you the first entry I ever wrote to kick off the Television Collision back in the Summer of 2009. Here I confess I am a television junkie and why I like it that way.

I love TV. Ever since my childhood, when my best friend and I would hurry home from school to catch the triple feature of Baywatch, MacGyver and Star Trek TNG on German station Sat. 1, I have loved that square box bringing stories and people into my living room.

I watch an insane amount of current shows (thank God for TiVo!) and I am constantly catching up on old ones (thank God for DVDs!). I even went to university to earn a degree in TV studies and although it included a degree in film as well, I find myself frequently drawn to topics of TV when I think about writing for this lovely site.

Yes, I am with unashamed abandon a TV junkie. I don’t even discriminate against bad television. After all, we wouldn’t know the good without the bad and if the movie theaters have room for summer blockbusters and harmless entertainment, then our TV schedules have room for summer shows and Grey’s Anatomy.

And since the world of television — past, present and future — is colorful, diverse and endlessly entertaining, I have decided to write a weekly column all about TV, set to run here at CC2K every Tuesday. I present: Television Collision.

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Why would anyone do this to a dear friend?

Now, let me get into more specific reasons for my undying love for television. These are, of course, based on the best case scenario. There will always be shows that don’t meet these criteria. Generalizations are conditional by nature.

What I love most about good television is the fact that for the better part of my year I have characters I get to see every week. Over time you grow attached to them, you love them, love to hate them, feel with them and are genuinely delighted to welcome them into your home once a week. They become companions of your every day life in a way a character from a movie never could. I couldn’t imagine not seeing Greg House, Seeley Booth or Barney Stinson every week.

Of course most shows have their limited run time and eventually you have to say goodbye to the characters, but over the seasons you can grow with them, laugh with them, even fall out of love with them. Their personalities are revealed to you gradually and every week you get to learn something new, almost as if it were a friend you sat down to dinner with once a week.
If a show is written well, it can even break your heart by killing off a character. (Like Joss Whedon once said: “If you kill someone off and no one cares, you haven’t done your job.”)

I realize of course that characters on TV are a poor substitute for having actual friends, since they do not talk back at you. This is where another reason of why I love television kicks in:
you can share the experience with friends. Remember those Sex and the City sit-ins women used to have back in the day? Where they would gather around a TV and watch the show together, all the while creating their own banter and witty repartee in the process?

Now, correct if I am wrong here, but in a movie theater you wouldn’t be able to do that. Sure, you may gather all your friends to go to the first showing of The Dark Knight and discuss it afterwards, but you could not throw jokes at the screen while watching, for a moment ignoring how the scene goes to share a similar story with the people around you.
(You could, however, do this when watching the DVD of a movie with friends, but that is not exactly the same, is it?).

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Dangerous torturer or tortured soul?

And then there is the years and years of sharing after a show has aired. Depending on how long they run, TV shows simply acquire a much longer runtime than movies could ever have, thus providing exponentially more items for discussion. In certain cases, shows can even be so influential as to change the way we talk to our friends and fellow fans by giving us slang, inside jokes and endless geeky quotes. To this day my friends and I crack up every time one of us is moving and we have to carry big bulky pieces of furniture or boxes down staircases, because someone sooner or later will shout out “PIVOT!” just for the hell of it.
Not to mention that I excuse myself by saying “Sorry for the latetitude”, when I arrive my usual ten minutes late to appointments.

Television is also the best school for writers to learn how to create characters with depth. Where in a movie you only have a few scenes of exposition to establish who your lead characters are (unless you have one of these “coming of age” or “life crisis” storylines), on TV writers get the chance to slowly reveal to the audience who they are watching on screen. Not everything has to be as it seems, maybe there is a reason why a character is so harsh or unfriendly. Examples of this slow and steady deepening of characters are of course shows like LOST, especially the first three seasons. But even a show like House, bemoaned by some to be repetitive because of its “one patient a week” formula, over the years has delved deep into character study. Of House, of Cuddy, of Wilson, of Foreman… Every week we learn a new piece of the puzzle and we never stop uncovering more, just like in real life we are never done “learning people”.

With a great and well-balanced set of characters there is no story that could not be told. And instead of having to get used to new characters for every new story, as I would have to with movies, I get to see people whom I already “know” deal with a plethora of life’s choices, which ultimately hits that much closer to home at times (and no, it’s not a proximity issue because of the TV set being directly in my living room while the movie theater is down the road).

Television is a little like my security blanket. Without my shows (and I use this term loosely, as the amount of shows I have seen is constantly growing) I feel naked, alone and missing something. So until all my current first loves return this fall I will tide myself over with summer flings like Burn Notice and Nurse Jackie and by writing this column. Good TV, bad TV, new TV, old TV; the stories are never-ending.

Author: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

Born in Germany, lived in the US, now in the UK. Always taking my love for TV and writing with me. Life participator. Blogger. Gaming enthusiast.

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