Last week, Indiewire partnered with Sundance Channel and their new original drama “Rectify” to present “20 Years of TV,” a series of five articles exploring the past 20 years of television and its effect on the current “Golden Age.” Here’s a look at and links to all five.
20 Years of TV: How ‘ER’ Was the Last Great Drama in Which the Show Itself Was the Star
Long-running series used to function like long-running Broadway shows, a reflection of the shared history between early television and live theater, which was as much aesthetic as it was practical. A TV show, much like a stage show, was an entity greater than its component creative parts; actors could be replaced with great frequency, with new characters written in. “ER” may be the last great TV drama of this model.
20 Years of TV: How the DVR Changed Our Relationship With Television
VCRs afforded TV viewers the opportunity to record shows and watch them at their own convenience. However, the self-contained nature of most TV episodes, combined with the need to buy fresh video cassettes as the image and audio quality suffered with repeated re-tapings, meant that the impact on TV-watching culture was relatively low. It’s the next major advance in recording technology, the DVR, that would have far greater influence.
20 Years of TV: How HBO Paved the Way for Television to Be Taken Seriously
By the 1990s, HBO was increasing its amount of original programming, launching the likes of “The Larry Sanders Show,” starring Garry Shandling, which mercilessly satirized the entertainment industry. 1997 saw the premiere of “Oz,” a searingly intense prison drama featuring graphic sex and violence of the kind rarely (if ever) seen on the small screen before. Despite these shows and the enormous success of “Sex and the City,” the artistic apex of the channel was reached through two other drama series, the first of which debuted in 1999, the second in 2002. These are “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”
20 Years of TV: How Cable Opened Up the Television Landscape to a Chorus of New Voices
MTV consolidated its power in 1992 with “The Real World,” which calculatedly combined the then-burgeoning trend of reality TV with youth culture’s obsession with “authenticity.” In contrast to the near-Brechtian artifice of Fox hit “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “The Real World” purported to show the unvarnished lives of actual young people. In those early years, the show hewed closely to that intent
20 Years of TV: How Television Has Caught Up to Film In Terms of Quality and Ambition
It’s safe to say that, in terms of culture, the last 20 years have seen a paradigm shift in the medium of television. It was also two decades ago when broadcast networks dominated TV in both ratings and prestige. Now almost all of the prestige and an ever-increasing share of the ratings belong to cable. Of course, measuring standards have also changed, especially since a considerable segment of the viewing audience watches via DVR or on streaming sites.
Indiewire has partnered with Sundance Channel and their new original series “Rectify” from the producers of “Breaking Bad” (series premiere Monday April 22nd at 9pm.) This startling drama follows Daniel Holden, who is released after 19 years of complete isolation on death row. As he adapts to life outside, anger is reignited in the small town to which he returns. Daniel Holden may be free, but the battle for his life is far from over.
Learn more about “Rectify” here. http://www.sundancechannel.com/series/rectify
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