We are, most people would agree, in the midst of a Golden Age of Television. Since the late-1990s, the programming that's been pumped into our homes has been as good as it's ever been -- and, in many respects, better than the movies that have long sat atop the Pop Cultural Quality Pile. But why aren't we also in a Golden Age of Genre TV? ...Read the whole thing. Bernardin offers three thoughts on the subject, namely that SF is too cerebral to slip past corporate suits without getting dumbed down, too pricey to produce properly in most cases, and too adored by fans who'd rather nitpick than promote it. Each of his suppositions has merit, yet I'd argue that Bernardin misses a more obvious reason: Genre TV tends to fail because it forgets the fundamentals of storytelling. Lost and The X-Files didn't fall apart because of a lack of funding or interfering executives. They collapsed under a weight of unfinished storylines and unsatisfying spectacle. Every sort of story succeeds because it contains engaging action in an interesting setting populated by relatable characters who reveal universal human experiences. If SF television can hew to those basics, I see no reason why the golden age shouldn't start now.
I'm talking great in the way that The Wire was great -- the universally lauded Best Show Ever To Exist On Television -- or The Sopranos or The Shield. Or the way that Breaking Bad or Mad Men or The Good Wife or Louie are killing it week-in, week-out.
Why are there no genre shows performing at the same level? Why are we not able to turn on the TV any day of the week and find something shiny to watch? Here are some theories ...
(Picture: CC 2008 by catchesthelight)