It’s not TV

Kim and I are going to start watching The Wire Season 5 (first time for Kim, second time through for me).  It’s a little easy to pick on Season 5 as being clearly the weakest the Wire offers.  That, of course, still leaves is far better than most every other television show.  Thus, seems like a good time to link to this excellent article in Slate about how HBO is so responsible for truly raising the bar for quality television in the past decade.  A sampling:

>How different things are today. At the beginning of the 21st century, there is nothing sharper in the cultural firmament than American television writing. You don’t have to brave the multiplex or pay exorbitant theatre ticket prices to watch the most compelling drama, the most scabrous satire, the most committed actors. From the sassy 23-minute sitcom to the magisterially drawn-out series, TV as an art form has grown up. It is changing our habits, and our scale of values. The ultimate act of cultural immersion used to involve going to see a Polish mime troupe in a downtown warehouse that couldn’t afford its heating bills. Today, it is to sink into a DVD box set for an evening of home-comfort transcendence…

This near-miraculous transformation is almost entirely down to one company…

The truly radical thing about HBO is its commitment to quality…

Bloom would never have predicted that the flat-screen TV would come to the rescue. But he surely would have recognised that programmes such as The SopranosThe WireBoardwalk Empire, all produced by HBO, had effectively reversed the cultural trend that he wrote so despairingly about. Quality has become cool. The principal medium of mass entertainment is producing some of the most rigorous and challenging art works of the new millennium…

Anyway, more good stuff for you to read there for you fans of good television.  And if you’re not, you should be and this article explains why.  HBO is expensive, but since I’ve been out of grad school and have a decent salary I generally try and spend my money on quality when I can.  Thus, even though when it comes to my televised entertainment I’m actually pretty patient and could wait until HBO shows come out later on DVD, I like to support what HBO is doing (and I also like to have “real-time” conversations with other lovers of good TV).   Anyway, thanks to HBO I will enjoy re-watching The Wire tonight and am very much looking forward to Boardwalk Empire tomorrow.

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