Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Platinum era for TV?

I've been listening to a fun CD, "Designs in Music" by Ben Vaughn. It is a witty, whimsical series of sets that recall music from the end of the golden age of television. Remember "Secret Agent" and "Hullabaloo" and "Get Smart"? It is offset by ingenious touches, such as the professional whistler on a few of the pieces. (Note: if only I could reincarnate as a professional whistler...) But back to that golden age I was referring to. Are we in another one? Last night while socializing with friends and fellow culture fiends, I couldn't help but notice how animated the conversation became when it fell on programs such as "House", "NipTuck" and "Lost". As someone who did not own a TV as an adult until I was almost 30, and who would do anything to avoid having to sit in front of the boob tube, I've found myself actually enjoying some recent programming. No doubt the quality of some of the dramatic shows is impressive. TV as an entertainment medium today operates on a different set of assumptions, it seems. Actors navigate their careers between television and film now, whereas back in the day they were pretty well segregated in one or the other. Cinematography is now present in TV, as is serious acting and writing talent. "Appointment TV" is back and movie theater attendance is down. I think when HDTV and home media centers hit a tipping point, we'll see a further explosion of creativity and choice in programming. Anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that the quantum leap in quality of HDTV and its ability to transform the TV viewing experience is such that it is far more addictive than analog. Add to that the rapid growth in amateur video, and the high degree of comfort young people today have with digital visual technologies, and suddenly it seems like open sky possibilities for the medium. Could we be at the cusp of a Platinum Age of TV? What will the music be like?


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