The Fifty Year Old Fan Girl

OK, well I’m not quite fifty … but soon. Interestingly, I seem to have had a huge fan girl resurgence for television. It’s kind of weird and I think something to do with the fact that I no longer drink. Aside from the fact that I’m actually awake in the evenings now, instead of snoozy from pre-dinner drinkies, I seem to get great pleasure from listening to endless TV storytelling. I currently don’t find that enjoyment in movies, yet as a teenager I was movie mad. From a writer’s POV I think there is some truly excellent work going on in television – so much so that I wish I’d had the opportunity to work in that medium. Not that I would ever leave novel writing permanently. My sanity wouldn’t allow.

Anyway, tell me what you all think. Is it just me, or has TV really gotten better?

  • I think TV right now is awesome! Fringe and Doctor Who are two of my dearest loves, and it excites me how much both are leaping ahead, getting better and better each season.

    TV seems to be celebrating good scriptwriting and allowing for much more interesting ensemble casts these days, whereas movies are more often about lone (male) heroes and special effects.

    The only movies of the last couple of years which have interested me are those with ensembles – Star Trek, Watchmen, the Harry Potter series. But none of them have managed to produce anything like the excitement and rewatchability of a quality TV show.

  • While I’m not sure that the average quality of TV has improved – for every Deadwood, there’s a Big Brother – there certainly do seem to be more interesting TV series being produced than stellar movies.

    Last week, I introduced a 14-year-old nephew to classic Trek, but first had to explain to him that the series had no story arc – the episodes were intended to be watched at random (and some probably shouldn’t be watched at all). He found this difficult to grasp, and I think this is one of the factors that has made many recent TV shows so good: they’re no longer constrained to tell a complete story in 44 minutes, but can give it as long as it needs. Movies, on the other hand, are still expected to run 90 minutes to three hours.

  • First, congrats on giving up the booze! Your children will thank you for it, and if they don’t, they should.

    And you’re onto something here – the sober mind must be more interested in the intellectual. I live with a fifty-something alky who actually reads books when he’s sober. Not so when he’s drunk. So yes, this could be why you’re more interested in TV now :-)

    I’m a different kettle of fish when it comes to genres: if I read it in books, I DON’T watch it on TV. Vice versa. I read speculative fiction, but I’m not interested in spec TV. Instead I watch my beloved animated comedies: Family Guy, American Dad!, The Cleveland Show, South Park, and Futurama.

    And now, I shall get offline for some bedtime spec reading ;-)

  • TV is definitely better than it used to be. Though I do wish they would move away from huge amounts of one type of programming.
    For a while there, there were far too many ‘reality’ shows. Then there was the DIY shows, then cooking shows, then cop shows, why can’t we have a little of each and less of the channels following each other around like randy dogs.
    Thank the powers that be for digital TV.

  • Stephen: I think you’re right about how TV has changed! Not all shows do the arc thing, but I realised when rewatching Xena recently how surprised I was not to get a proper build up towards a season finale – late 90’s TV was very different to what we expect now!

  • I just wish they would a) put these shows on a better times and b) bring back Firefly :)

  • Marianne

    Thanks for the comments everyone. It’s really interesting to hear what you think.
    Multi-episode story arcs have allowed the viewer an even greater chance to investment in TV stories. The movie format doesn’t seem to satisfy nearly as well. For example I absolutely loathed NCIS LA initially, but having watched a few episodes now, I’ve gradually gotten a little involved with the characters. Not enough to love it. But enough not to hate it. The wham bam impact of a movie can leave you so dissatisfied when they don’t get it right. Yet TV allows for second and third chances.

  • Chris

    Definitely agree. One that got me suckered is Supernatural. The early standalone episodes were pretty entertaining, but by the second season when the story arc really got started I was hooked. Same thing with Heroes too, although not enough for me to put the boxed DVD sets on my Chrissie and birthday wishlists.
    The DVDs make an interesting research exercise to see how the production team build the characters, story arcs and gotchas. I’m keen to use some of it in novel form to try to replicate the episodic feel, which I think could have a pretty large market. Not fanfic, but using the same kind of techniques in my own work.

Awards

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Peacemaker - Aurealis Award
Best Science Fiction Novel 2014

Curtin University Distinguished Alumni Award 2014

Transformation Space - Aurealis Award
 Best Science Fiction Novel 2010

Sharp Shooter - Davitt Award
Best Crime Novel 2009 (Sisters in Crime Australia) 

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