Are We Living In Television’s Golden Age? I Think So. Do You?

Over the last year or two I’ve mentioned to a few people that American television’s Golden Age — by which I mean its greatest era in terms of scripted series — is now. In my humble opinion, needless to say. I said it just last week to my pal Gene as we were munching on our lunches in a café near to where I lived, many moons ago, in Philadelphia’s University City section.

Yes, I know that the Golden Age title long ago was bestowed by some on 1950s American television, because it was in that decade that the small screen came of age in the USA. But let’s face it — when it comes to quality, 1950s American TV doesn’t deserve to wear the crown. And speaking of America, it’s that country’s products that I plan to talk about in this article, since I know not much more than diddly-squat about television’s offerings from elsewhere.

Getting back to Gene and me: Our conversation, as always, was all over the map. Part of the time we talked about television, about series from TV’s earlyish days, such as Have Gun Will Travel and The Twilight Zone. They, and plenty of other shows from the 1950s and 60s, not to mention less-ancient decades, are in repeats on an assortment of networks. And some of those series hold up. The Twilght Zone, for instance, will mess with your mind and emotions nearly as much now as it did when it was originally on the air (1959-1964). Overall, though, a pretty high percentage of elderly shows don’t seem so good anymore.

But Gene and I didn’t have too much to say about the tube’s post-2000 scripted fare. That’s partly because neither of us, especially me, has seen a lot of it. I used to watch quite a few series. But, for reasons I’m not too sure of, that mode of behavior became very sporadic starting in the early aughts. When Sex And the City hung up its high heels in 2004, followed by NYPD Blue’s closure the following year, my series-watching came almost to a halt.

But despite that, I’ll assert once again that we are in the midst of American television’s greatest era. (And let’s define that era as starting around 15 years ago). I’m certain of this because I keep up with reviews, and I’ve never read as many good reviews of scripted shows as I have since the early 2000s. It’s often one rave after another. Far more excellent shows have been birthed in the aughts than in the 30 years that preceded them, substantially because there are way more networks and other outlets (Netflix, Hulu et al) airing original material than ever before. Take these examples of series from our present century: The Wire, Breaking Bad, 30 Rock and Homeland. From what I gather, hordes of people would say this about each: “It’s the best series of all-time.”

And I’m certain because my wife Sandy clues me in on the programs that she watches. Currently she’s in love with, among others, This Is Us, Elementary, black-ish, Better Things, I’m Dying Up Here, Modern Family and Homeland. And she swooned over The Middle, The Good Wife, Boardwalk Empire and many more whose plugs have been pulled.

And how about these high-quality programs that are churning out new episodes and which Sandy hasn’t (yet) added to her menu? — Killing Eve, Atlanta, Westworld, Dear White People, The Chi . . . the list goes on for distances too lengthy to travel. Maybe that’s why I watch so few of them: There’s just so much good stuff, the multitude of options is intimidating.

It’s not that I don’t turn on the television. I do, though usually for only an hour and a half late at night when my usual pattern is to flip from sports show to talk show to news show to whatever. And it’s not that I haven’t seen any scripted series at all. I have. In the last three years, for instance, I’ve watched various episodes of five: Blue Bloods, Modern Family, Everybody Hates Chris, Curb Your Enthusiasm and Lopez. The first two, which are still in production, I catch now and then in repeats. Ditto for EHC, which was cancelled in 2009. And I wouldn’t have missed even one installment of Curb’s latest arc (from 2017). Curb Your Enthusiasm is hilarious.

As for Lopez, I was one of about eight people who knew of its existence. I liked its adorably quirky characters and went into a mild depression when I learned a few months ago that it wouldn’t be returning for season three. I hope that George Lopez reads this article and, out of the goodness of his heart, decides to cast me in whatever his next series might be.

Of all the many, many series that I could be tuning into, how’d I come up with those five, only two of which (Modern Family and Curb Your Enthusiasm) not only began in our Golden Era but meet its high creativity standards? Well, it’s just one of those things. So, yeah, I need to up my series-watching game. I mean, I’m not an anti-TV snob. These days, sadly though, I allot too many hours to contemplating my navel. You would too if yours alternated every 30 minutes between being an innie and an outie, as mine does. Very distressing. Yes, spending more of his time with an increased number of primo TV series would be a far better way for what passes as a grown man to behave.

Readers, am I right or wrong about American television’s Golden Age? What current shows do you like, and why? Which of them do you consider to be top-notch? Which are guilty pleasures? What are the best series of the last 15 years? Or of any time? Etc., etc.

And let’s open all of the above questions to series that are not of American origin. What’s the state of affairs, TV-wise, in countries outside of the States?

I’m awaiting your responses eagerly. This, for me, is a learning exercise. One’s never too old to learn, after all. And one’s never too old to grab hold of good entertainment.

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108 thoughts on “Are We Living In Television’s Golden Age? I Think So. Do You?

  1. viewfromoverthehill June 29, 2018 / 12:42 am

    Gosh Neil: I don’t even have cable anymore. but I like Netflix. I get to watch some fabulous shows no one else is interested in (according to their rating system) but then I’m weird. The one about the first emperor of China, in Chinese with English sub-titles, is the one I’m crazy about right now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 10:11 am

      I haven’t heard about that one.
      Maybe you’re the only person watching it!
      Have a real good weekend, Muriel. Bye for now.

      Like

  2. Candice June 29, 2018 / 12:42 am

    We love The Walking Dead and Brooklyn 99, among others. We find that there are so many good series nowadays, that we can’t possibly watch them all.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. endardoo June 29, 2018 / 5:28 am

    I agree there are some marvellous things, like The Wire and The Sopranos, Mad men and Breaking Bad but really, in order to please many, there has to be a lot of not so good stuff in there as well. They maybe serve to make the great stuff stand out

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Deb June 29, 2018 / 7:52 am

    The major networks all seem to have a slightly different version of the same general TV genres- a comedy, a cop show, a romance of sort, something sci-fi-ish, etc.
    While I enjoy some of those as a distraction I’m not sure I would call them great TV. And those “new” remakes of series I used to love have left me flat.
    I stick mostly with originals from Netflix or Amazon and will always be a PBS fan. British TV has been a winner for me as well.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 10:18 am

      Hi Deb. Do you get HBO? They’ve had an amazing number of series over the years, many of them very good.
      See you —

      Like

  5. Rob June 29, 2018 / 8:08 am

    I’ve read (and noticed myself) that reviews of music albums are much less “critical” these days, with far fewer negative reviews. I suspect the same is true of TV and movies, in reference to your statement that you’ve never read so many good reviews of shows since the 2000’s started. I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but it is something for us all to take into account. That said, I think there seems to be more experimentation and more range in what’s available on TV these days. (Said as someone who watches very little TV…but from what I’ve read there seems to be a lot out there! 🙂 )

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 10:26 am

      Hi Rob. Right, experimentation and range have expanded a lot, on animated series too. It’s a goldmine out there!

      Like

    • Pazlo July 3, 2018 / 2:45 pm

      There’s a huge problem with reviews on the internet. It’s cheap, if not downright free, to write all the reviews you want. Some folks hire out as positive-review writers.
      Back in the days of paper publishing, it took a lot to get to be a critic to begin with, and then to get published. Sure they could be swayed by “lobbyists”, but when it was in print, your name on it, in a magazine that pays you to do this, and only a once-a-month or once-a-week opportunity to do so, I believe there was more legitimacy and honesty.
      Also, reviews on the net have a tendency to be directly associated with or sponsored by the reviewee. All the reviews on the “I Love Walking Dead” fan site are likely to be positive.
      Do you think ABC, NBC, HBO or Netflix have suddenly become morally committed to honesty, or do you think they’re still in the business of making as much money as they can?
      So, you may see a token bad review in there, but who is making the cuts?
      As Bela Lugosi asked in Zombie Island, “Are we not men?”
      Are we children, or sheep, that will simply believe everything we read?

      Pazlo

      Like

  6. Laurie Graves June 29, 2018 / 8:41 am

    You are absolutely right! So many terrific shows to watch with good actors, good stories, and good production quality. Right now we are watching the very quirky, creative Atlanta. The Wire is the best. Ever. I am going to go out on a limb here: television has gotten so good that it eclipses most movies.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 10:30 am

      Hi Laurie. You know, I’ve never seen The Wire, though I’ve read about it many times. And I’ve never seen Homeland. They are two of the greatest shows ever, from everything I hear. I did see many episodes of The Sopranos, though. That show was awfully terrific, and may have ushered in all the great stuff that started appearing in the 2000s.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Laurie Graves June 29, 2018 / 2:21 pm

        Yes, yes! Well, you can catch up whenever you’re in the mood.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter June 29, 2018 / 9:47 am

    Of those you mentioned I watched all of Sex and the City and The Good Wife (to start with as a crossover from SATC because Chris Noth was in it). I also followed Frasier and House to the end. I liked Mad Men but when it switched to a channel I don’t subscribe to I didn’t miss it. I just seem to have lost interest in TV so no idea what is good in U.K. terms these days. I know people watch a lot of Scandinavian noir but i’ve never got in to that. Sorry for such a boring answer!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 10:31 am

      Not boring at all! For instance, I never knew about Scandinavian noir.
      Thanks for adding your thoughts, Anabel. Appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Annika Perry June 29, 2018 / 10:23 am

    I’ve always enjoyed watching TV and grew up on the ‘cop’ shows from the ‘80s. ‘Starskey & Hutch’ was an all time favourite followed by so many more. Nowadays we watch Netflix and love watching series, an episode a night. Our son took us through Brooklyn 99, Chuck and we all enjoyed Friends. My guilty pleasures have included Designaged Survivor and the brilliant brilliant Aytpical! From UK Call a Midwife, The Crown and Death in Paradise are fun to watch. More of an endurance I’ve seen The Killing and The Bridge! Bet you wished you’d never asked me!! 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 10:35 am

      Annika, I’m glad to have all of your info.
      My wife is a real big fan of Designated Survivor. I’ve thought of turning on Brooklyn 99, because I liked Andy Samberg a lot when he was on Saturday Night Live.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lynette d'Arty-Cross June 29, 2018 / 11:35 am

    I like HBO and here in Canada, CBC. We also watch a lot of Netflix – we enjoy series from UK and Europe. I would agree that tv is better – there’s a much wider variety. But there’s a lot of drivel (or is that dribble? 😉 ) too. Some of those “reality” shows are about as real as moon cheese, although again, a reality series such as Alone can be quite good.

    Great post. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 1:26 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Lynette. Reality shows are popular, I guess, but I find them to be unwatchable. There’s a million of them on the tube. “Survivor” might have been the first of the so-called reality shows. I think it’s still on.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. greenpete58 June 29, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    To answer the question in your essay title, Neil… in a word…”No.” The golden age of TV was the late ’50s through the mid ’70s. I’ll add that, in my opinion, too many Americans watch too much television (both good and bad TV), and it’s not doing our society any favors. A little bit of TV is fine. Not you necessarily, but fewer people read books, or take in nature these days. We’re losing the capacity for sustained concentration, critical thinking, and an appreciation of true beauty. TV is like sugar candy, and too many people are relying on it for their entire diet. The BEST television is on PBS, but few people watch it! (And when we reach a point where we’re now promoting primetime TV stars as our political leaders… God help us.)

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 1:33 pm

      Hi Pete. There’s a lot of truth in what you say. But you know, I get the feeling that many people might not watch a lot of TV, but what they do instead is stare at their phone screens or iPad screens — playing video games, sending text messages, surfing the web, etc.
      There is an addiction to screens of all sizes in our world. All of that, to some extent, takes people away from the natural world and from one another.

      Liked by 1 person

      • greenpete58 June 29, 2018 / 10:54 pm

        I think you’re right. The screens are everywhere! It’s the visual age. It’s hard to even get a full weight lift circuit at the Y. People will do one set, then sit on the bench for 5 minutes playing with their toy. Sometimes I want to scream!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. barrydjd June 29, 2018 / 2:03 pm

    The whole problem with series is they only show up once a week or less. As my age advances – usually with little advance warning – I tend to pay less attention, so a week later I’ve forgotten entire scenes and begin to wonder what the hell is happening. To remedy the problem we occasionally pick up DVDs from the local library and binge watch shows which have high ratings. Usually the first couple of years are okay and then they start to get slow and too talky. As that happens I begin to drift and pay more heed to the book I have at hand. Thus, in the long run I have no opinion since I’ve once again lost track of the TV series story line out of boredom.

    Liked by 4 people

  12. Ann Coleman June 29, 2018 / 2:37 pm

    I hate to admit I’m wrong, but after reading this post I realized that’s exactly what I need to do. My opinion had been that current television is mostly crap, based on all the reality shows that I can’t stand. But once you started naming shows, I realized that you are right: there are lots of good ones out there, and I just need to try harder to find them. These days, my default is simply to have HGTV on in the background while I work around the house. But honest to God, if I hear one more person say, “We need to get rid of these walls, so we can have open-concept,” I will scream.

    My own list of good shows includes Modern Family and Big Bang Theory as well. I’m ashamed to admit I used to enjoy Reno 911 quite a bit, too. And Curb Your Enthusiasm is great!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 3:45 pm

      Hi Ann. There’s lots of bad stuff on the tube, for sure. In this article, I limited my focus to scripted shows, of which there have been many really good ones.
      But, reality shows? Ugh!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ann Coleman June 29, 2018 / 9:32 pm

        I know! And I’d allowed myself to get so distracted by the reality shows that I was ignoring the very good scripted shows that are also one TV. Thanks for the reminder!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Cindy June 29, 2018 / 3:40 pm

    I’d have to say I agree with you and Newton Minow, FCC Chairman in 1961, who said that, with a few exceptions, network TV is a “vast wasteland.” These days, if it weren’t for PBS, Netflix, and Prime TV, I’d have little motivation for ever turning it on. And the laugh track has to be one of the worst inventions ever!

    To paraphrase another great thinker: “Tune out, turn in, drop off” (to sleep)!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 4:09 pm

      Right, there’s a lot of junk: reality shows, and programs on the order of Dr. Phil, and many others I’m barely aware of. But — in the last 15 or so years there have been a ton of really good scripted shows. And there are plenty of good documentaries on various networks (PBS, the National Geographic channel and others).
      I’m with you on laugh tracks. They’re really annoying!

      Like

  14. Aunt Beulah June 29, 2018 / 5:12 pm

    I agree with your comment above about the Sopranos being terrific. It hooked me on series again, though I haven’t found many that equaled it. Fargo was great and I like the Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul. Like your wife, I enjoyed Boardwalk Emperor, and I think Justified never got the attention it deserved with its outstanding writing and appealing characters.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 7:44 pm

      Evening, Janet. My wife Sandy agrees with you about Fargo. I’ve got to start watching some of these series!

      Like

  15. JT Twissel June 29, 2018 / 5:30 pm

    If there’s not a good movie on then I watch Sherlock Holmes or some such thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Alyson June 29, 2018 / 6:50 pm

    There is an awful lot of TV should you wish to partake BUT best to be selective and seek out the best – For me, this side of the millennium, that’s been The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and Mad Men. The young no longer watch real time telly, just Netflix and YouTube but I still have fond memories of watching light entertainment shows with my parents, when the whole family sat down on a Saturday night together – Just doesn’t happen any more which is sad. Interesting that my favourite shows are American despite me living in the UK. Far too many reality TV shows – scraping the bottom of the barrel there, although someone a tad orange in hue did well out of it!

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Fictionophile June 29, 2018 / 6:52 pm

    I agree that the quality of television series is on the uprise. We watch a lot of television and our favorite shows are numerous. We watched every episode of the Sopranos, Justified, Bloodline, House of Cards, Damages, The good wife, The killing, Saving Grace, etc. (to name just a few) Not only American TV, but British TV as well. I am an avid fan of British crime drama which IMHO has quality and acting second to none. I’m thinking of such series as the British ‘Cracker’, Prime Suspect, Broadchurch, The fall, Doctor Foster, Scott & Bailey etc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 29, 2018 / 7:53 pm

      Hi Lynne. I’ll tell Sandy my wife to read your comments. She might want to add some of the shows you mention to her viewing schedule (if our cable system gets them). Thanks for the info. Enjoy the weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Still the Lucky Few June 30, 2018 / 12:33 am

    I agree, there are a lot of good shows out there, and I’m relieved that several of your readers think reality TV is the dregs. I’m afraid that television takes a back seat these days for me. Since I limit my time watching it, I choose carefully. I do regret that I don’t have HBO—maybe I should make the effort!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2018 / 7:04 am

      Morning, Diane. HBO carries a commentary program by John Oliver, who is a very bright guy. He rips into Trump mercilessly.

      Like

  19. andrewcferguson June 30, 2018 / 2:39 am

    Neil, sadly, like you, I don’t find enough hours in the day to take in a lot of tv – and that’s a choice. However, I get the strong impression you’re right that this is now the Golden Age, probably because of the increased competition between channels. We’re still working our way through series of House we can track down through DVD collections at one or other charity shop. Hugh Laurie is just astonishing.

    And although we get a lot of US imports, to pick up on a previous comment, Scandi Noir is definitely a thing at the moment. If it ever makes it over the Pond, I can recommend a Scottish crime thriller in the same vein, Shetland. That’s one we actually stayed the course for.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2018 / 7:02 am

      Hi. House was one of Sandy’s fave shows. Not sure if Shetland is on any of the networks we get. Maybe it is — the Public Broadcasting System in the USA carries some British fare.
      Have fun this weekend, Andrew. Bye for now.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. joyce hamilton June 30, 2018 / 9:02 am

    Great article…..great shows ! My favorite of all time is I Love Lucy.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Robert Parker June 30, 2018 / 10:43 am

    I watch very little TV, but being uninformed is no reason not to express an opinion, right?
    When my parents have shown me clips from shows they liked, pre-cable, “Bob Newhart” “Taxi” “Barney Miller” “WKRP” a lot of it is still funny as hell. Then when I’ve poked around archives on YouTube some rainy days, and found “F Troop” “My 3 Sons” “Happy Days” “Brady Bunch” etc. etc. etc. it seems like very definitely a vast wasteland of inane trash, just like more recent horrors “Jersey Shore” Kardashians, all the “reality” sludge. I was a history major, and The History Channel turned out to be a huge disappointment, incredibly tedious.
    But series like “Breaking Bad” “Cracker” “The Wire” “Foyle’s War” “Big Bang Theory” “Sherlock” “Boardwalk Empire” etc. show people can produce & appreciate good stuff today.
    And of course there’s more diversity – the sophisticated humor of “South Park” and weirdness of “Portlandia.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2018 / 11:30 am

      Hello there.
      Robert, thanks for all these thoughts. I used to be a big fan of Taxi and Barney Miller, but haven’t watched them in repeats in ages. I’m not familiar with Cracker or Foyle’s War, but I’ll let my wife know about them (she’s much more the TV-viewer than I am).
      Have a great rest of the weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. alhenry June 30, 2018 / 10:55 am

    My husband and I are always saying the best writing around is on TV these days–it used to be in indie films but the quality and quantity of those seems to have dried up. A lot of dreck and fewer gems now than in the 70s, 80s, and 90s.

    But back to TV. I was shocked–fetch me the smelling salts!–not to see Netflix’s “Stranger Things” on your list. Sci-Fi meets Horror with a GREAT cast, especially the 4 young teen boys and the “alien” girl in the starring roles.

    For great writing, I don’t think you can beat Foyle’s War or Endeavour (the Inspector Morse prequel), and I’m a big fan of Vera (Brenda Blethyn). I also loved the 9 seasons of “Spooks” (known in the States as “MI-5.”)

    Must run now and look up all the series mentioned in your post.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2018 / 12:03 pm

      Speaking of indie films, I recently saw one that I liked a whole lot. I’m not sure why it’s titled American Animals, but it is. The movie is based on a true story. It’s probably my fave movie of the year so far.
      Bye for now, Amy. Many thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. selizabryangmailcom June 30, 2018 / 1:49 pm

    It’s a relief that TV is in the rise. Don’t forget the limited series True Detective! Although we only saw the first season with McConaughey (guessing at sp.) and Woody H. They were both amazing. We really liked Stranger Things too, season one. The second season the kids’ dialogue seemed to be more forced, like they were saying things kids wouldn’t really say. We used to enjoy House of Cards because it was like watching Bill and Hillary “shenanigans” in Washington. I think when it became status quo for movie stars to appear on TV, that was a big plus. I wonder if anyone remembers the short-lived Rome from a while back. Production costs too high, audience not big enough. But it was great while it lasted.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger June 30, 2018 / 2:52 pm

      My wife tells me that Patrick Melrose, another limited series, is very good. It’s on Showtime. Benedict Cumberbatch is in it.

      Thanks for all the info and good comments about TV. Much appreciated, Stacey.

      Like

  24. Benn Bell July 1, 2018 / 9:21 am

    There’s a lot of good stuff on now but I still don’t think it compares to the actual golden age of TV in the 1950s I would say rather we’re in a silver age.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2018 / 10:47 am

      Morning, Benn. Back in the 50s though, there weren’t all that many shows — because there were only a few networks. There was plenty of good TV then, of course. Jackie Gleason show, Sid Caesar show, I Love Lucy . . . But I think there are far more really good shows today than there were back then.
      I appreciate your stopping by. Take care —
      Neil S.

      Like

  25. Typewriter Girl July 1, 2018 / 3:52 pm

    Well you gave us Mad Men ..in my mind, the best series ever😊 The Bridge from Denmark/ Sweden would be up there too. And Engrenages from France (Spiral in English) is highly watchable too😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2018 / 5:08 pm

      Hi. I’m glad to hear from you. Thanks for the info. I hadn’t heard of The Bridge or Spiral.
      See you —
      Neil S.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Carol A. Hand July 1, 2018 / 5:25 pm

    Sad to say I stopped watching TV in my early high school years. That was almost 60 years ago, and honestly, I really haven’t missed it. Of course it meant I couldn’t look a little less like a nerd in conversations but I learned to live with that. Now, I do have the luxury of watching Netflix and can choose from a huge selection of commercial-free movies, series, and documentaries at my convenience. It’s hard to name favorites, although I love the chance to learn about other cultures and other views of history and nature. I guess I’m still a nerd at heart…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2018 / 5:52 pm

      Hi Carol. Thanks for the visit. We get a load of channels on our cable system. But we don’t have Netflix or any of the other streaming services. I think it’s inevitable that eventually we will. They are the present and the future!
      See you.

      Like

      • Carol A. Hand July 1, 2018 / 7:11 pm

        Netflix is so much cheaper than cable TV, Neil, at least for the moment. Who knows what will come with the end of net neutrality.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2018 / 8:05 pm

      I understand. I don’t watch the tube a whole lot either. I’ve never seen many of the shows that I mention in this story! (And yet, I know that they are good!).

      Liked by 1 person

  27. Browsing the Atlas July 1, 2018 / 7:42 pm

    I’m among the reality-television averse. I can’t stand watching people show their stupidity. But there are so many good shows and documentaries these days. My DVR is always full.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. ralietravels July 1, 2018 / 8:28 pm

    Although I might not agree on specifics, I agree in general. There is a great deal of good creative writing out there in the wasteland. Recently, however, I have watched reruns of “Have gun, will travel” and was startled to find some [not all] of those scripts were also surprisingly creative. They also often feature actors in bit parts or as villains who went on to starring roles later.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2018 / 9:15 pm

      “Have gun — will travel. Wire Paladin, San Francisco”

      HGWT was a cool show!
      Thanks for visiting my humble website. I appreciate that a lot.
      Neil S.

      Like

  29. awritersprime July 1, 2018 / 9:05 pm

    I think some TV shows have gotten good and some have gotten terrible lol i.e. spongebob and the simpsons and a lot of soap operas (to me they used to have better story lines). I think now with media service providers like Netflix and with people being able to stream movies and watch YouTube that TV has lot a big chunk of the market in how people watch entertainment. So sadly, I think the golden age of TV is over, even if the writing may have gotten better, if younger people aren’t watching as the older people get older less and less of the majority will watch TV perhaps…I do love TV though 😦 Great blog post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 1, 2018 / 9:31 pm

      Hi there. Many thanks for stopping by.
      I was using the term “television” in a broader sense, to include the programs from Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. Between the “normal” networks and the streaming services, there have been a really large number of fine quality scripted series this century. You’d have to watch the tube for 18 hours a day to begin to keep up with them!
      You make a great point about demographics. I guess that time will tell how all of that plays out. I think that people will continue to watch scripted series, though.

      Like

  30. camparigirl July 2, 2018 / 7:25 pm

    My current faves are Fauda on Netflix and CB Strikes on Cinemax. Patrick Melrose was also good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 2, 2018 / 8:22 pm

      Hello there. I’m glad to hear from you. I know about Patrick Melrose, but haven’t heard of the others. There are so many good shows!

      Like

  31. Anonymous July 2, 2018 / 8:12 pm

    Sorry to take so long to response to another of your great essays. Something is wrong with my TV. I tuned in the comedy channel to watch The Three Stooges and only two of them showed up. Go figure. All the best. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Pazlo July 3, 2018 / 3:34 pm

    Well, Neil, I wouldn’t say we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum here, but I have some reservations about today’s “small screen moving picture industry”, or the SSMPI (a term which should suffice to cover off-air, conventional cable, satellite TV, on-line Televison services, and streaming to one’s cell phone).
    Not to short any of the writers that have put together compelling story lines and developed complex characters. Nor will I discount the many artists and craftspeople that are needed for a production company, including cinematography, set design, continuity, wardrobe, editing, Foley, etc.
    But they seem to follow a formula, and much of the formula seems to be eye candy in that subliminal way we used to be paranoid about.
    In the 1970’s, the first Steadicams were developed (a harness and rig a cameraman wears, which enables the camera to “float” in the mount as the cameraman walks, climbs stairs, rides in cars, etc. Prior to that, folks shot all kinds of things hand-held, for that first-person perspective. You watch that now and you can’t believe the vibration and shaking of the image, yet they considered the footage cutting edge.See: the bus chase scene in “Dirty Harry”) Fast forward to Hill Street Blues, NYPD Blue, Homicide: Life On The Streets, and any number of shows from that era and you begin to see this “documentary style” photography: the camera is never steady, but looks like amateur hand-held video. The jump cuts are constant, with some cuts on the screen a half second or less. Then as you watch the show, you’ll notice this constant prompting, this hypnotic eye candy, that makes your brain continually watch the screen. No take is longer than two seconds. You can sit and watch almost any show now, and count. 1-2, jump cut, 1-2, jump cut, 1-2, jump cut. If the image changes every two seconds, your brain will constantly follow the changes, trying to keep up. It’s hypnotism.
    So, why did we develop the Steadicam, Vibration Reduction and Image Stabilization for cameras if we’re just gonna swing it around like a VHS camcorder at a wedding?
    Personally, I find the style annoying and the “subliminal” hypnotism manipulative.
    Also, it’s tough to find shows that don’t throw a variety of voyeuristic scenes in your face. Nothing’s worse than trying to watch a show with your ten-year-old granddaughter, and suddenly, out of nowhere, the characters are lustily thrusting their tongues down one another’s throats and disrobing. (Do you remember the Big Deal it was when we saw Dennis Franz’s naked butt on TV?)
    If you want to watch other people make out, I guess that’s your deal, but back in the old days if you weren’t in a “special theater”, these things would only be allowed after 11 pm!
    Now it’s all about freedom and what we can get away with and trying to beat the next guy to the next buzzworthy episode.
    What happened to good old fashioned escapism and suspension of disbelief?
    Where are the shows where we can watch the Hollywood version of life?
    Where clothes are always clean and the dog is always friendly.

    So, Golden Age of TV? I dunno. What’s the criteria? The quality of writing, regardless of the subject matter? What impressions are we making on young people? It’s cool to cook crack? It’s cool to be lascivious? To be an insolent smart-ass like Bart Simpson is good? (Don’t fly off now. I love Bart’s character, too, and the rest of the show, but it does demean things like parents. Same with South Park. This is America, and I support going against the grain, freedom of speech, and political/social sarcasm. But social commentary disguised as a cartoon seems almost Orwellian!)

    Is it the sheer number of shows, episodes or fans?
    Positive on-line reviews?

    I guess I wouldn’t feel so strongly if I didn’t think this applies to about 95% of what is coming out of Television City.
    I just want to sit down and escape with and episode of Sergeant Preston Of The Yukon.

    My forty cents (allowing for inflation),

    Paz

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 3, 2018 / 4:36 pm

      Hi Paz. Yours are the best comments that anyone ever has posted on my website. Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts here.

      As you know, I say in the story that I don’t watch much TV these days. So, in a sense I wrote the piece to open up discussion on the subject of television, to see what other people think. But I still think I’m correct about the last 15 or so years being unusually good in re the number of high-quality scripted series. A lot of them are very open and graphic and show sides of life and ways of thinking that maybe weren’t shown on the tube too much before. To me, that’s a good thing. But there also are many current shows that are very similar in design and orientation to those that were on TV in the past.
      Anyway, once again I thank you. Be seeing you —
      Neil

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pazlo July 5, 2018 / 8:59 am

        I don’t disagree with you, entirely. The competition among channels (i.e. channels of distribution) and the number of networks (including NOTA (not over the air) such as HBO, Netflix, BBCA, etc.) has rewarded the consumer with increasing numbers and steadily-improving quality of programming.
        Still, I miss Mayberry.

        I love a good debate.
        Thanks for a great topic!

        Paz

        Liked by 1 person

  33. The Snow Melts Somewhere July 3, 2018 / 4:27 pm

    Over here in Finland (Northern Europe), we watch American TV shows but the variety isn’t enormous. The local, Finnish shows, are mostly reality shows and bad sketches, produced low-cost. I rarely watch any TV, and when I do, I do it online, some shows you can view for free on the channel’s website. I’ve been watching The Walking Dead because hubby got me into it way back in season one… my favorite show of all times was Friends, which never gets old. Which is good because they still show re-runs around here! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 3, 2018 / 5:15 pm

      Hi. I thank you for stopping by. Friends is still in repeats on various American channels. Some of my favorite shows of all-time are: NYPD Blue, Northern Exposure, The Rockford Files and Hill Street Blues. I’m forgetting a bunch of others!

      Liked by 1 person

      • The Snow Melts Somewhere July 4, 2018 / 12:58 am

        There used to be a bunch of cop shows which I liked, too, but I can’t remember them now. ER was also good back in the 90’s, with Clooney 🙂 Thanks for the chat and the interesting post!

        Liked by 1 person

  34. theburningheart July 4, 2018 / 5:11 am

    As a child, and as a young man my love was the movies, until they went downhill in the eighties.

    I was a late comer to TV specially to American programs, not until I was almost 30 years old, and it took me for a while, specially the old shows, then it kind of got awfully repetitive, and bad, and only watched PBS, until couldn’t receive the signal anymore, since cable companies got greedy, and decided you couldn’t watch TV without paying them, and I couldn’t get the signal even buying a little box converter, and couldn’t watch PBS, when their transmission tower, was a few blocks from my place, outrageous!

    Didn’t want to sign for cable, so I tried Netflix for a while, trying to watch a movie made me go to sleep in 10 minutes, so cancelled my subscription, and threw out my TV set, and video recorder with it.

    Now my computer it’s my only window to the Universe, and consider it a blessing, since it’s not a passive sit, and watch whatever they will offer you, granted they give you a menu with many choices, but limited to what most people want to watch, a lot of shows do not make it, just don’t get enough ratings, not because they are bad, but because they do not appeal to a majority, but since when a majority has good taste?

    I rather myself, pick my fare, and decide exactly what I want, and it’s right at my fingertips, and doesn’t have to be a show, or entertainment, but what really interest me personally.

    I guess that also make me a bore when talking to people, and they start commenting about the last show they are following, and I got not an idea of what they are talking about, but frankly I am not that interested, also since Newspapers become a waste of time, and do not care to watch the news on my computer, I am the last to find out when something really big happens.

    So Neil, I will take your word we are having a TV Golden age, since I know you are a thoughtful man, and I will be the first to agree with you, when you say in your post:

    ‘A pretty high percentage of elderly shows don’t seem so good anymore.’

    Same thing happens to me, when seldom I watch an old movie for nostalgia sake, maybe I lost my youthful sense of wander. and become an old, tired cynic!

    Realize my comment it’s too long, I get carried away, blogging, and reading , seem to be the only stuff I really care anymore, because it’s creative, rather than passive, so let me apologize for it,

    Best regards. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 4, 2018 / 7:43 am

      No apology necessary! I find your thoughts to be very interesting.
      I suppose that many people, including myself, find themselves in patterns that maybe they hadn’t expected to be in. I watch TV shows, for example, but far fewer than I used to — I’m not sure that I would have predicted this, 20 years ago.
      I spend quite a bit of time surfing the web, looking at various articles from online publications from around the world. The internet has changed the world!

      It’s very good to hear from you. Take care —
      Neil

      Liked by 1 person

      • theburningheart July 5, 2018 / 12:18 am

        Yes you are right, remember my days as a young person, going to the movies was as necessary as washing your teeth, every day. If you had told me, there will come a day, I wouldn’t be at a movie theater in over 15 years, I would thought you were nuts!
        When I thought of movies as a good, and necessary habit.

        Or for that matter than one day I will throw my TV set, and video recorder to the trash..! As I did.

        And you are right, as people we fall into patterns like on the day you went with friends to the movies, or with your girlfriend, or wife, like going out to diner. or seating with your family and watching TV

        Well, life change, and we do as well, and each mind is a world unto itself.

        Thanks Neil 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  35. K E Garland July 4, 2018 / 7:08 pm

    Good question…I’m thinking there are several golden ages. They kind of come in waves and I find it depends on how emotionally involved I am at that time. For example, shows like Alice, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, Different Strokes, and Facts of Life remind me of a Golden Age. However, you’re right…Netflix has opened up a new, more creative source, returning television to a new Golden Age. Black Mirror, 13 Reasons Why, 7 Seconds, are all shows that have helped to secure that moniker. Thanks for making me think about this a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 4, 2018 / 8:00 pm

      Hey there, Kathy. Late at night recently we were flipping the dials and came upon an episode of 100 Code. A station called WGN is broadcasting it. I’d never heard of it. It’s a European series that ran for only one season. The episode we watched was very good.
      There have been a very large number of quality series in recent years.
      Have a good rest of the week.
      Neil

      Liked by 1 person

      • K E Garland July 5, 2018 / 12:18 am

        Weird. WGN is out of Chicago, which is where I’m from and happen to be right now 😳 I’ll have to check it out!

        Liked by 1 person

  36. thehomeplaceweb July 5, 2018 / 10:14 am

    I worked a lot of evening shifts and if home prefer to read in the evenings so I don’t watch much TV, other than the 6pm news, but lately I have developed a taste for British Masterpiece, (Downtown Abbey, Poldark, Victoria etc). I love history and find the British shows are better written overall and the acting is excellent. There are entire decades of TV I have missed, other than the odd series here and there (ex Ally McBeal), so someday when I’m older and in a nursing home and have nothing else to do I will have a lot to catch up on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 5, 2018 / 11:27 am

      Hi, and thanks for stopping by.
      I know what you mean about the odd series here and there — that’s pretty much been my pattern for the last 10 or more years.

      Like

  37. George July 6, 2018 / 3:15 am

    I’m probably the wrong person to ask. Like you, I believe we’re living in a golden age of shows I haven’t seen.

    Liked by 1 person

  38. BUDDYBLOOM July 6, 2018 / 5:33 am

    Another great essay. My TV is on the blink. I tuned in the comedy channel to watch The Three Stooges and only two of them showed up. Go figure. All the best. Jerry

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 6, 2018 / 7:26 am

      Hi Jerry. Take a look at one of my responses above — I give the link to a photo of a Larry Fine mural in Philly.
      Take care.
      Neil

      Like

  39. pjlazos July 7, 2018 / 9:15 am

    I think you may be right, but it’s not because of the standard old boys network (CBS, ABC, NBC) but because of the newcomers (Netflix (stranger things, shameless), HBO (game of thrones, westward), etc. I still can’t sit through commercials which could be why I prefer the latter.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 7, 2018 / 10:16 am

      Thanks for the visit, PJ. I know what you mean about commercials. Somehow, though, I tolerate them.
      My wife likes This Is Us a lot. And black-ish, too. Both are on “regular” networks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • pjlazos July 7, 2018 / 1:20 pm

        My daughter loves This Is Us. I e never seen it, but I do get all my viewing tips from my kids. 🤓

        Liked by 1 person

      • America On Coffee July 9, 2018 / 11:29 am

        Thank you for doing so. What I should have stipulated is that the Golden Age of television was more innovative, because the tv media was a new platform. Today tv is full drama. News reporters view and portray themselves as celebrities and no longer deliver news as news.
        A crisis is a holiday for news reporters. The Golden age tv era no longer upholds strong family values as in its humble beginnings. I will stop here. Have a great week!!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 11, 2018 / 6:54 am

      Hi. I’d never heard of Dr. Blake, so I googled it. Sounds like a real good show.
      Enjoy the day. Be seeing you —

      Like

      • Pazlo July 11, 2018 / 8:43 am

        I follow Dr. Blake. It’s well-crafted, from TV Victoria, Australia.
        Reminds one of BBC productions, like The Midwives, another series I like.
        Both on PBS I believe.

        Paz

        Liked by 1 person

  40. jeanleesworld July 14, 2018 / 6:46 am

    Hmm. Well I can trust your take that this is a good TV age, but as one who has no cable or netflix and only watches the occasional YouTube show, I can’t say I’ve been so tempted by a show’s advertising to invest in Netflix/Cable to get it. I did like Hannibal, but that was it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Another Blogger July 14, 2018 / 7:56 am

      You know, there probably are quite a few people who watch few if any programs of any kind, whether it be on a television screen or a computer screen or a phone screen.
      My wife and I were talking about TV last night. We brought up a show we hadn’t thought about in ages. It was called “Family.” It was on in the 70s and/or 80s. It was a very good series.
      Enjoy the weekend, Jean. See ya —

      Liked by 1 person

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