Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Lifetime TV Movies

It is amazing how much better TV shows are than movies. It is also amazing ho wmuch better cable TV shows are than network TV shows. Using the transitive property, that means that x=3. Or something. I didn't really pay attention in match class.

Movies are ridiculously expensive, and there is never a guarantee that a) they will be good or 2) you will enjoy them. But if you don't enjoy them or they suck, you won't get your money back. The popcorn ALWAYS sucks, and yet it costs $20 for a small bowl. And the drinks...basically a giant cup of ice with a splash of soda. For $10. Does anyone else think that is ridiculous? Apparently not, because the line for snacks at a movie theater is always long.

Anyways, back to the point. Movies are not very good these days. And they are expensive. And if you wait just a few months, you can have Netflix send you the movie. Do you realize that the monthly cost of Netflix is basically the same as a ticket/snacks for one to a single movie? Why wouldn't you wait those few months for the movie to come to DVD? You can watch it like you watch your TV shows, with better popcorn, cheaper soda, in the comfort of your own home, while in your underwear. What, just me?

Movies in the theater used to be a weekly or bi-weekly occurence, but no longer. They are too expensive and too many of them are horrible. Now, we need hard proof that the movie will be good before we shell out our hard-earned cash to see it. We need to know the movie is good in the cockles of our hearts, maybe below the cockles, maybe in the sub-cockle area, maybe in the liver, maybe in the kidneys, maybe even in the colon. Which usually means we need a friend to play the role of guinea pig and see the movie and give us their scouting report.

But even if Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair tells you that a movie is a can't-miss prospect, outside of going on a date (unless you're me, who goes to the dollar theater to see Ransom), or a movie that everyone talks about so you have to see it to feel a part of the human race (like Avatar), there is no point to seeing a movie in the theater. None. At all. Besides all the reasons listed above, these days, TV shows are just plain better. Better scripts, better acting, better plots, better everything. TV shows can actually play out a story line and not gloss it over because they only have 90 minutes to get the entire story in. TV shows can get you to fall in love with multiple characters, not just the one or two big names. When you watch a movie, generally speaking, you leave saying you really liked [insert actor's real name] and [insert other actor's real name] did a great job, but when you watch a TV show, you talk about what Sawyer and Kate and John Locke and Hurley and Jack all did in the last episode.

Granted, there are plenty of duds when it comes to TV. But the great thing about the duds - you didn't pay specifically for them. You watch an episode of some new show and it stinks, no skin off your back, you just won't watch that episode again and your tivo will thank you. But you go to see a movie and it stinks, you ain't getting that $12 back.

Network television obviously have their shows, and they market the heck out of them. But you know where you can find the highest percentage of winners? Cable television. After Tony Shaloub and Monk became popular, being a big name actor on a cable television show no longer was uncool. Although Monk's run came to an end, USA Network now has White Collar, Psych, Royal Pains, Covert Affairs, Burn Notice and In Plain Sight. NBC even sent Law and Order, Criminal Intent to USA. TNT has Leverage, Rizzoli and Isles, The Closer, Dark Blue, Hawthorne and Men Of A Certain Age, among others.

Why does cable have a higher percentage of winners than network channels? For one thing, the expectations are much lower. A cable show doesn't have to pull in 14 million viewers an episode to be successful. One would think that cable channels were just the network channels with beer goggles, going after any crappy tv show to put on their air because it was past midnight and you felt lonely. But that is not the case.

Cable channels, again, thanks to Tony Shaloub and Monk, go after big stars and put great casts around them with great writers and producers, probably good grip people as well (whatever that job means) and more often than not, they make great television. Because it's cable and the only thing on other than original shows is grown men in spandex pretending to hate each other while actually hitting each other in the back of the head with metal chairs, the channels can then replay the bejeezus out of their original shows, giving We The Viewers multiple chances to watch and/or tivo said shows. They don't worry about competing with the big boys and girls on network tv. They say "hey, you can go watch their show during primetime, but we'll leave the light on and the door open when you come back home at 1:00 a.m."

I think the growth of the cable shows has made the network channels stand up and take notice. I feel like even the network TV shows have become much better. Which makes it much easier for us to say "I don't want to go out to a movie tonight, let's stay home, make some popcorn, grab some sodas, and what all the shows we have on tivo."

Like college football, I would assume that the movie-television battle is all cyclical, and that eventually movie companies will start putting together a higher percentage of better movies. Even if they do that, though, for them to start bringing in higher crowds, it might be time to lower the prices. Theaters are no longer the place to go on a Friday or Saturday night. For one, most people have a big screen tv with HD, or at least know someone who do, so watching TV or a Netflix movie is just as much fun as going out.

Especially since home means better popcorn, cheaper drinks, and underwear.

None of you? Seriously?

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