It’s no fun going home to your 25-inch CRT after watching movies on your buddy’s new 50-inch HD flat screen. It’s a concept most people are familiar with: try a product of higher quality, and the old stuff will seem like garbage in comparison. Alright, maybe not garbage, but the difference certainly becomes more noticeable than it may have been before. The same is true of the content you watch on that screen. I don’t mean half-hour sitcoms, or documentary programs that air on Discovery. I’m talking about the drama, action, and supernatural shows that usually have sixty-minute run times.
Thanks to channels like HBO, Showtime, and AMC, I’ve been exposed to a multitude of awesome shows, causing me to watch regular television with an even more critical eye. (And I was pretty critical to begin with.) The entertainment bar is being held insurmountably high by the likes of Dexter, with its fantastic acting and characters; The Walking Dead, complete with suspense, action, and special effects; and the superbly epic medieval fantasy, Game of Thrones.
I know that there are those who might disagree with me about The Walking Dead, claiming that there is room for improvement in the acting department, but I actually thought it was pretty decent. Sure, there was a character or two at whom I could point a finger, but really the action and cinematography more than made up for whatever thespian shortcomings there may have been.
Now there are shows on regular networks that I, and possibly others, unfairly brush aside. I probably could have enjoyed ABC’s Once Upon a Time once upon a time, but with my now refined palate I’ve sampled it, pooh-poohed it, and tossed it in the pile along with others like Grimm and Lie to Me.
I know, I know—not all programs have the budgets and special effects that the big guys do, so it’s not completely fair to put them all in the same bracket. And it is worth mentioning that the standout shows I mentioned all existed previously as celebrated written works. Nevertheless, the overall effect on me, the viewer, remains the same. In some sort of weird reverse-desensitization process, I’ve been left constantly expecting breakout acting, jaw-dropping plot twists, or scenes so gruesome that they make me go “Whooooaaaahhh!” and cover my mouth. Am I so wrong to be disappointed when, instead, I get shoddy green screen effects and evil knights who look like they’ve got helmets made from old Koosh balls?
Really, once you’ve seen the higher quality programs, the old stuff is ruined. You just can’t watch it without making comments and rolling your eyes at every scene. And if that’s not enough, the good shows are so good that viewers who don’t subscribe to the premium channels resort to Netflix and DVD rentals to watch a series like Dexter, getting hopelessly addicted and winding up going through an entire season in a lethargic weekend of binge watching. But who can really be blamed? Those shows are damn entertaining.
And so, to HBO and its friends I say both sincerely and sarcastically, thanks a lot!
Video: HBO via the Game of Thrones Youtube channel
Walking Dead image: AMC (screencap)
Once Upon a Time image: ABC (screencap)
Dexter image: Showtime (screencap)