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August 24, 2003

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Grumpy McNohbo

Q:Why is television called a "MEdium"?

A:Because it is neither rare, nor well done.
HA ha.
I don't have HBO. I cancelled it in 1983 when they stopped showing "Super Fuzz" 3 times a day and started showing all those Gallagher specials and I've never looked back. What Am I supposed to do in order to impress my sophisticated New Yorker friends? I know everything on HBO is automatically wonderful, but is The Wire *really* any good? Would I like it? It looks an awful lot like when TNT promotes "The Shield"- or "Nip/Tuck". Maybe that's TNT trying to look like HBO, well to my untrained eye, it has worked. I liked "sex and the city" (which I enjoyed by renting the dvd box set), but I am not gay enough to pay for "queer as folk". That redhead girl in Six Feet Under is pretty, and I have heard the show is very well done. But I still don't feel like forking over loads of money every month to the cable or satellite company just to sit in front of the tv every night and try to get hooked on HBO dramas, so I can feel like I'm getting my money's worth. I wasn't too impressed by The Sopranos (of which I watched the first few episodes)- it just seemed like a familiar mafia retread. You call it a modern american myth, I call it a cliche. The westerns and the sci-fi genre have been done well, poorly, been spoofed, etc. I don't know why you consider the crime drama any more "uniquely american" than say, the western, or the superhero genre. I will grant you that the pay-tv format allows for something more closely resembling a novel in terms of character development, due to its lack of commercials ( and needing to "hook" and tease and recap for viewers before and after these breaks). Plot can flow more intuitively. But these HBO shows with all this development are also sort of off-putting. There is so much continuity built up that the uninitiated have to wait for the DVD to catch up, unless they devote their whole life to the show, or if they have a tivo I suppose.
I suppose I could set up a pirate satellite dish for a few hundred bucks, and then enjoy having all the channels for a while, and sample HBO, knowing that I won't need to pay for it ever. That might be okay. But unless they introduce A mini-series-version of Alan Moore's "Watchmen",HBO isn't getting any of my money.
I sit on my ass all day at work, and I sit on my ass far too much at home watching tv. I understand that you are just trying to "class up" everyone's viewing habits a bit, not increase overall viewing. But come on, you like EVERY HBO Show! You are asking your readers to give up all their nonwork waking hours, it sounds like, for what is probably good and possibly great tv- but still just tv. I assume you are on the payroll of HBO or getting kickbacks from Tivo or something.
HBO used to be about second-run feature movies and racy comedy specials and sitcoms. I guess there's no market for that anymore.
I am sure HBO has high quality tv, and that you get what you pay for. But at what cost? At what Cost??

Eric

I hear ya dude. I just don't watch much other non-HBO stuff other than the Daily Show so the couple hours every Sunday night doesn't exactly put me out personally, but there's only so much time, you're right.

I was only saying that non-Mafia Crime Stories are the main American genre now. You're right. IN the past it has been WEsterns etc. You could also make a case that serious superhero films are becoming the pre-eminent American genre nowadays I suppose.

I really do think that the Best of the original HBO programming is better than the vast majority of theatrically released feature films which you'd have to pay 10 bucks to see so I don't think the cost is that unreasonable. Its not all great. I aree that the Sopranos is overrated, but its not as cliched as you make it out to be either. Six Feet Under is intermiittently great. People also tend to underrate their original non-series movies,like "Normal" which came out recently and is one of the better movies I've ever seen. And don't forget K-Street and Carnivale are coming up. Don't tell me that prospect doesn't raise your hackles.

As for your Watchmen dream project. Anything's possible. They've greenlighted some pretty ambitious risky shows that have gone on to great success.

Grumpy McNohbo

Well, It is encouraging to hear that there is at least *some* quality tv being done somewhere today. Sunday nights used to mean futurama, simpsons, family guy and king of the hill for me. But FOX dumped the two most clever ( family guy and futurama) and kept the uneven but steadily popular simpsons and king of the hill. Both of the edgy cartoons ended up on the Cartoon Network's adult swim, and are enjoying great popularity.
So Cable is the way to go for anything that isn't mainstream,lowest common denominator entertainment, I suppose. Cable, tivo, and kazaa are all part of a larger trend- of tailoring and time-shifting entertainment to suit not the demographic as much as the individual viewer.
I just draw the line at paying for HBO's "premium" service. I can't imagine it is worth THAT much more. I may just be cheap, what do I know?
If you want to spend your sunday nights watching HBO, fine. I'll watch the cartoon network or kazaa-downloaded shows, and we can agree to use different methods of catering to our superior enrtertainment tastes.

Never ever ever ever ever wrong (especially on subjective subject matter)

"the best drama in the history of American television"

Are you insane?

The Wire is decent enough but is ludicrously overhyped.

A poor man's NYPD blue and not a patch on the Sopranos.

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