Saturday, July 26, 2008

A new golden age

Thanks to TiVo (I love you TiVo), we're watching more television than ever before -- but we're also watching better television than ever before. And lately it seems that there is too much good television to watch. Cable series like The Closer and Burn Notice have jumped the gun on the traditional fall season, and the justly-acclaimed Mad Men begins its second season tomorrow. Before long The Shield will open the curtain on its final season in about a month.

The struggle to fit all these entertaining and often masterful dramas into our viewing schedule caused me to have another crazy idea about popular culture's relationship to television in 2008. Have there ever been more outlets for scripted television? With basic cable channels like USA, TBS, FX, AMC -- heck, even ABC Family (we're enjoying The Middleman) -- filling their schedules with original series, creative types have more executives than ever to whom to pitch their series ideas. That's not to mention pay-cable stalwarts like HBO and Showtime, which have been airing original dramas in increasing numbers for more than a decade.

And the networks seems inclined to embrace shows that are unusual, edgy, or need time to build an audience. If I were a writer with an idea for a serialized story, I'd be thanking my lucky stars to be alive and working at the present moment.

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