I’ve been a dedicated follower of both sorts of ‘screen’ entertainment we have – television and film – for a few years now. I’ve consumed far more TV as compared to films, and I mean the format not just the medium. I believe the kind of most recent (that is, in the last decade) commercial cinema is – it doesn’t even begin to compare with the quality that can be seen in television. I suppose most of you will agree with me here. Hereon, by “cinema” and “films”, I mean commercial cinema and films.
Previously, the best talent could be found only in the film industry for the most part. Now this is no longer the case. That the TV actors are starting to get more spotlight and social media attention than their cinema counterparts is well-known. Now a Kit Harrington is as recognisable as a Christian Bale, as almost as drooled on by the fairer sex. The gargantuan commercial successes enjoyed by TV series produced by HBO and AMC, particularly with flagship shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, has only improved things for television.
I find this change refreshing, being an avid television viewer myself. And I can venture a guess as to why all this might be happening. I feel the reason is simple enough. People are beginning to realise that the television format, with episodes broadcast in a series, is a better medium to tell a story. A Song of Ice and Fire series, on which Game of Thrones is based, would never have been possible as a series of film. The costs, it being a large screen adaptation, of special and visual effects would have exceeded beyond the wildest imaginations, and dividends would have likely been minimal. Films need immediate success. Television is a little like books. It may rely upon word of mouth publicity. It does not depend necessarily depend upon the numbers of viewers during its first broadcast.
But when I say better, I don’t just mean that television is easier to adapt from a series of books. After all, most TV series are based on original stories. The second, and clincher for me, advantage of television is that it also allows comfortable, relaxed storytelling which filmmakers have no choice but to shun owing to timing constraints. Most modern films clock under two hours, while television series go on and on.
Of course you might eventually lose interest, but then there are so many options to choose from. The episodic format allows TV shows to develop plot and characters more believably and also to build up slowly to the exciting climax (or season finale or series finale). This makes for more enjoyable (at least for me) and immersive experience. Films, on the other hand, have to be exciting and action packed and dramatic almost every fifteen minutes. This is why I’ve always wanted the films I like to go on endlessly. They don’t, and it is sad, but here is where television comes into the picture.