Wednesday, September 03, 2014

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

Here's an interesting piece* in Slate: "Why 1994 Was One of Network TV’s Last Truly Great Seasons." That "One Of" weakens the claim so much it's hard to argue, but it is true that network TV has not been the main place to go lately--cable and companies like Netflix tend to offer the most exciting fare.

But was 1994 that special?  Okay, you've got Friends, My So Called Life, ER and Party Of Five, not to mention the continuation of some fine shows, but all told, was this so much better than what was available in the years since?  Let's concentrate on new shows, since they keep each new season vital.

I'd say a year as recent on 2004--the year Friends ended--was more exciting.  What was new then on network TV?  The big new hit was Desperate Housewives, which introduced something different. Then there was Veronica Mars, a new show on a relatively network.  You've got House, truly something different (though the troubled hero has become a cliché on network TV since).  And above all, you've got Lost, still the most influential TV show today, and maybe the only network hour that could compete with the great cable dramas for compelling characters and storyline.

In fact, my guess is ten years from now we'll start seeing articles about the golden age of network TV in 2004.

*As soon as I saw "1994" and "Truly Great" I thought it would be about cinema. That was a pretty good year.  The hit films were pretty good--The Lion King, Forrest Gump, Speed, The Mask, True Lies, Dumb And Dumber, For Weddings And A Funeral, etc.  Other titles include Bullets Over Broadway, Chungking Express, Clerks, Crumb, Drunken Master II, Eat Drink Man Woman, Ed Wood, Fresh, Heavenly Creatures, The Hudsucker Proxy, The Last Seduction, The Madness Of King George, Muriel's Wedding, Once Were Warriors, Quiz Show, The Shawshank Redemption, Swimming With Sharks and Vanya On 42nd Street.  And above it all, my favorite film of the decade, Pulp Fiction.

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