The Future of Television?

About 90% of the tv shows I watch these days are either from DVD or downloaded torrents. I really like watching what I feel like watching when I feel like watching it. Downloading shows has let me check out some new shows that might not ever be seen on Finnish TV (like UK Channel 4's bizarre comedy Green Wing), or things I missed (like Steven Bochco's Murder One). I just finished watching the first season of Murder One tonight. It's was a really good series, but because the first season dealt with only a single case it was hard to catch up if you didn't start watching from the very beginning (like me). So they changes the structure for the second season, and that still didn't find a big enough audience, so it got dumped. There's an interesting article in Slate from last year that makes the argument "How $2 downloads can revive network television." It makes a lot of sense. If people can easily download the episodes they can catch themselves up, and there will be less need to fill-in audiences or "reboot" plotlines. That should also make for more interesting and creative story arcs, and concepts like Murder One. For me, I'm more and more becoming a fan of the "boutique" style series of 8-12 episodes favoured by British and cable networks, rather than the network mega-series. Shows like the BBC's Life on Mars, HBO's Entourage and Showtime's Weeds are definite favourites, and much more rewarding than that 300th episode of Friends or Seinfeld.

While we're on the subject of shows that didn't quite work, Amos and I watched 'The Best TV Shows That Never Were' last night. It's a great run through of TV pilots that never made it. Most of them for very good reasons, and a few that I would have watched. Amos had the idea for a network that would only show these old pilots, but maybe it would work as a pay-per-download service (or even a torrent archive). Seems to have worked for Global Frequency, at least.

Posted on August 7, 2006 and filed under Television.