July: T’is the Season for Television Shows

from clipartheaven.com

I love television shows.  Before this past year, during which I’ve had more free time than I honestly know what to do with, I never watched much television during the actual season runs.  I had tight schedules, lots of homework, part time jobs, etc.  So I watched things on syndication during the summer, or on hulu (and now, thanks to a friend I can add Netflix to the list of things that enable my addiction), or I bought the dvd collections.  In fact, a quick glance at my dvd shelves will tell you how much I love television (and that I’m a complete dvd whore).  I have more tv show season box-sets than you could shake a stick at.  A very very BIG stick.

I love television shows for a lot of reasons but the biggest reason is the same reason I love long book series: the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a world/character’s life for a long period of time, and watch characters and situations develop, grow, fall apart, pick themselves up again, etc.  I’m an in-for-the-long-haul kind of person, so I sometimes get very frustrated with shorter stand-alone novels (or short stories) and mini-series that get me just invested enough in the characters and then STOP.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of very good stand-alone novels and mini-series that I like and I don’t avoid them or anything, but I so often find myself wanting MORE.  Hoping the mini-series will get picked up for a full series run.  Hoping the author will write a sequel or two or three.  It’s the way I am.  So a television show with a decent running length makes me very very happy.

That, and of course, when the plots/characters are well done, tv shows are just plain FUN.

I will admit, however, that I don’t always watch a huge variety of shows.  I mainly watch scifi/fantasy (shocker, I know) and crime shows.  A few sitcoms here or there (though mainly older ones), and very little in the way of straight drama.  Partly its just a matter of taste, and partly its because I don’t have enough time to watch EVERYTHING, so I have to stick with the ones I know I’ll be able to keep up with.  (I do take recommendations from friends though).

Another thing I like about tv shows is that while I don’t know the first thing about writing specifically FOR television, the basic important story-telling elements remain the same no matter what medium you’re working in.  The important things: character, plot structure, tension, dialogue, attention to detail, and so on, all remain the same.  So I can learn and appreciate a lot about story telling in general while watching television.

As it so happens, July is the big month for kicking off new summer tv shows.  There are a TON of premieres in July, including (but not limited to): Torchwood, Eureka, Warehouse 13, The Closer, Rizzoli & Isles, Alphas, Curb Your Enthusiasm, etc… And so it seems fitting that for the month of July I’m going to focus on talking about televisions shows.

Of course, I don’t know the first thing about writing specifically for television, though (like I said) the basics of storytelling remain the same.  So, I’m not coming from a writer’s pov but from a viewer’s pov — from the pov of someone who enjoys a good story, complex characters, and snappy dialogue (and like’s to share that with others when possible).  I am obviously restricted to the shows I actually watch regularly (so expect mainly scifi/fantasy and crime shows).  This allows me to talk about something that I love, that is still at least tangentially connected to writing, and which is, I hope, of some interest to others (‘cause seriously, who doesn’t watch at least one or two tv shows regularly?).

So, what are you favorite tv show genres?  What’s your favorite tv show of all time?  Are you a big television-watcher or do you just have a few favorites you keep track of?

Check back on Friday for a discussion of dialogue in television and why it’s so damn important.

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12 thoughts on “July: T’is the Season for Television Shows

  1. I love TV shows and dislike most movies. I prefer to get wrapped up in characters and follow their journey over a few years rather than a few hours. I tend to love cancelled TV shows, which is sad. I wish the world could have more Flash Forward. I loved Brothers & Sisters on ABC, such a great family drama, but it just got cancelled. I suppose my favorite genre is drama because they feel more character based to me than say, crime shows which I’ve never been able to get into.
    Great post, I’ll check back on Friday! 🙂

    • Yeah, there are quite a few really good shows that I loved that were cancelled way to fast. Actually, I think I may devote a post to that…

      I know what you mean about drama being more character-based, however, I’d argue that plenty of the really good crime dramas, even though they obviously focus alot on the crime/mystery of the week, can still have very complex, nuanced characters who directly influence the way things play out. And those are the ones I really love.

  2. I get hooked on TV shows, but have such a different schedule every week I have to wait till they’re on dvd and rent them from the library. I got hooked on Dexter, Desperate Housewives, Weeds, Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Big Love, and I unabashedly watch old seasons of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman. That’s right, I said it.

    • I haven’t seen most of these because I don’t have any of the premium cable channels. But I do like the Sookie Stackhouse books upon which True Blood is based.

      And I watched Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman ALOT when I was a kid. That, MacGuyver, and The Equalizer. Oh, and Kung Fu, and Kung Fu: The Legend Continues.

  3. I’m… incapable of watching television. I’m never able to sit down and just watch a show, and I never seem to catch the second episode, even when I find a show I really like!

    My tendency, therefore, is to become hooked on shows that have already run their course and been cancelled. It’s sad in a way, but on the other hand, I can shamelessly watch the DVD’s at my own snail’s pace.

    The show I love most… And probably will love most, until the end of time… is Firefly. You knew that was coming. It’s the characters, it’s the rustic futuristic setting, it’s Joss Whedon’s writing abilities… The show just seems to me to be one of those amazing things that can’t be duplicated.

    • Lol, yes I know, you do not watch tv on a normal person’s schedule. Of course, when I’m in school I don’t either, so that’s okay. It’s only been this past year that I’ve really been able to watch each episode each week as they come out. As soon as the semester starts in the fall, I’ll be back to catching things on syndication or going to netflix and hulu to get my fix.

      And yes, I also knew what was coming. Firefly is an awesome show. I don’t think I could call it my all-time favorite, but its definitely high on the list.

      Now, you just need to keep watching Doctor Who!

  4. Amanda, have you read my blog? I’m addicted to TV! So much so, I write about it every Tuesday and Wednesday! 🙂

    My favorite shows include Chuck, Bones, all the CSIs, Supernatural, the Vampire Diaries, Survivor, Big Brother, The Closer, Psych, White Collar, Burn Notice, Rizzoli and Isles, Criminal Minds…do you really need me to go on?

    My favorite show of all time? I don’t now….I never missed a Miami Vice, Crime Story, Twin Peaks, the original 90210 and Melrose Place, Monk…again, do you need me to go on.

    I’d love for you to check out my blog! You’ll see that I’m not lying….

    • I lot of those are favorites of mine as well! Bones, Supernatural, The Closer, Psych, Rizzoli and Isles, Criminal Minds… All completely awesome! You seem to like crime dramas, so if you haven’t seen it yet you NEED to watch In Plain Sight. I’m obsessed with it!

      Thanks for the comment and I hope you’ll stop be again! I’ll definitely check your blog.

  5. I have to limit myself with TV – otherwise, I’d get wrapped up into shows so tightly, I’d never escape long enough to do anything else. 🙂

    I was a big fan of LO: Criminal Intent – mostly because I loved VIncent Donofrio.

    Apparently, I am the kiss of death to shows. If I start to love it, it goes away. Firefly, Sports Night, Rubicon – all shows I really loved that had very short lives.

    • Oh, poor Firefly… that show was MURDERED I tell you!

      But yes, I know what you mean. I have to be careful sometimes or I’d end up so wrapped up in tv shows I’d probably forget to eat.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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