I was on Current Affairs’ podcast, where Nathan Robinson interviewed me on Charlie Chaplin and The Twilight Zone. Listen to it below, or on your preferred podcast app:
Entering The Twilight Zone
Despite the near-constant refrain that this or that season of television is really more like a “ten-hour movie,” the birth of TV as a medium is tied much closer to radio than cinema. Genres that developed on the radio jumped to TV, from sitcoms to soap operas and game shows to police procedurals. Like radio, early television drama was broadcast live, often performed twice, once for the East Coast and again for the West Coast. “Like a child in hand-me-down clothes, television inherited the best and worst that radio had to offer, from the Ed Wynns and Jack Bennys, who made millions of Americans laugh every week, to the blatant commercialism that drove the system,” Jeff Kisseloff writes in the introduction to The Box, his oral history of early TV. “Television did it all, but radio did it first.”
I wrote about The Twilight Zone for Current Affairs. You can read it here!
TV Was Always Good #2
The last time we decided to shine a spotlight on some of the classic TV shows we’ve fallen in love with over the last few years, we were motivated in part to push back on the idea that TV only “got good” relatively recently, with The Sopranos, and then shows that lived up to its sophistication followed, mostly from HBO, other cable networks and then streaming services. But that’s a myth, one that HBO has been capitalising on for decades, and which the streaming giants are essentially trying to claim for themselves. Let’s hope they fail, because if not the recency bias people already have toward TV is gonna get dragged up to, like, Breaking Bad becoming a global hit on Netflix at the latest.
That would be tragic, because TV has literally always been good, from the very earliest days of the medium to the present moment. It can be hard to feel that at the present moment when there’s more television being made than ever, but less and less television that stands out enough to make you think it might not be focus-tested and algorithmed into a bland tasteless mush. We’ve almost a year left before we help you sift through the slurry of contemporary TV for the handful of precious shows worth watching in the next Sundae TV Awards. But we’ve both watched a lot of different TV shows, from a lot of different decades, in a lot of different genres since the last time we defended the honour of classic TV.
Here’s some you should check out, to remind you of what makes television great:Continue reading “TV Was Always Good #2”