The Revolution Will be Televised

You don’t need to be a regular subscriber to entertainment news to realise that the quality in filmmaking, generally, is not as high as it once was.

The days of excellent punchy storylines and acting that made the actor out to be nobody else other than the character they were portraying are becoming scarce. There is one industry however that is thriving on film’s disintegration and that is TV.

That’s right, television has burst back onto the scene in what is being heralded as its ‘second coming’.

That said, it is far from what we had been used to, with shows like The Office and Coronation Street being the only shows that dominated the ‘water cooler’ talk.

Nowadays we have a much bigger water cooler, a little social networking site called Twitter.

Twitter has been one of the major influences on TV’s rebirth. The ability to chat and discuss any show with thousands of fellow viewers has added an entirely new aspect of immersion.

The micro-blogging giant also helps the shows’ creators by giving them free access to people’s opinions, reactions and what they did and didn’t like.

It’s impossible to talk about the return of television without mentioning what is arguably the most prominent driving force behind it, Netflix.

As of April of this year, Netflix announced that it now has 36.3 million subscribers, with 29 million of those subscribers in the USA. Earlier this year it released what many have heralded as one of the best original series in television’s history.

House of Cards, an American political drama starring Kevin Spacey, claimed an enormous amount of plaudits for releasing the entire series all at once on Netflix. One of the major achievements of the show was the fact that it encouraged a ‘binge watching’ culture. So much so that it is now more than acceptable to spend a day (often more) enthralled by one of the tremendous recent series.

That said, it does not belittle the other achievement of getting an actor with the class of Kevin Spacey’s to play a starring role in it. A coup such as that could only be achieved by the enormous rise in quality in successful modern day television. Shows such as Hannibal and Breaking Bad manage to stir up an air of tension every week that any filmmaker would be envious of.

What is becoming an enormous lure of television is the ability of characters and actors to become idolised. Bryan Cranston (Walt in Breaking Bad) at this moment in time is considered almost god-like. While he is probably the most prominent of them all, he is not the only one who has developed a cult following.

Fans of Showtime’s hit new series Ray Donovan have also developed a love affair with the damaged would-be hero Ray, played by Liev Schriber (Defiance).

Television today is not the television of ten or even five years ago. Much like the Spotify model in the music industry, it seems that subscription based services have become the preferred choice for consuming media rather than owning it.

With this being one of the few drawbacks of TV’s new ‘golden age’ it is a very, very exciting time to be part of it. Shows like Game of Thrones have shown that the money is very much there and it’s only a matter of time before we see more and more of our favourite actors progressing rather than regressing to TV.

Michael Cogley

Image credit: Creative Commons

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