The film world has followed the same formula for several years now. Around the last six to eight weeks of the year, in that precious time right before awards season, we’re usually treated to some pretty great film fare. After that healthy period of good movies and awards-giving, though, the dumping ground that is January through March begins when films are released with little to no expectation and very little appeal.
After the first quarter comes summer, and in the last few years in particular, this period has been dominated by too many sequels, remakes, superhero adaptations and painful-to-watch movies like Grown-Ups. While there will always be great movies to see, it seems more and more like studios are only releasing two months worth of quality films and ten months worth of subpar films. The level of excellence doesn't seem as consistent as it once was.
There’s plenty of excellent work being done on television. Big cable networks like HBO, Showcase and AMC are providing some exceptional television programming that can rival some films in terms of great script writing, superb acting and even impressive special effects. Shows like Glee, True Blood, The Killing, and Mad Men have all received better reviews then some major studio movies. Television shows are not immune to poor audience turnout and drivel either. Great shows like Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, The Chicago Code and Pushing Daisies were critical successes, but failed to draw strong and steady viewership and were cancelled well before their time.
Part of the problem is that reality TV is dominating the airwaves and television viewers are tuning in en masse to see “regular folks” doing “real, everyday things,” which is funny given that reality TV shows are as authentic as the scripted, fictional shows that viewers aren’t tuning into. Luckily, smart, sophisticated and entertaining programs like The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Dexter and Breaking Bad are around to more than compensate for the excessive “reality” on TV.
So which industry is winning the battle? I think the film and television industries are shifting tides pretty evenly. There have been good, quality films in theatres (Inception) just as there have been good, quality programs on TV (Community), and there have also been box office bombs (Gulliver’s Travels) and television shows that have been cancelled before a complete first season has aired (The Event.) Each industry is bound to experience ebbs and flows in terms of excellence and commercial success. As long as the good continues to outweigh the bad, we movie and television fans can keep the faith that plenty of excellent work will continue to be done by filmmakers and television networks eager to keep the battle very much alive.
This is part one of a three part look at the correlation between film and television. The rest of the series will be posted on the dates below:
Part II - Actors doing double duty in film and on TV (Wednesday July 20th)
Part III - Television a proven springboard for movie stardom (Monday July 25th)