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The Emmys, The Fall Season, And TV Now

The Emmys are awarded — we look at what makes the best TV now, and the new season.

This publicity image released by AMC shows Dean Norris as Hank Schrader, left, and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in "Breaking Bad." (AP/AMC)

This publicity image released by AMC shows Dean Norris as Hank Schrader, left, and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in “Breaking Bad.” (AP/AMC)

Emmy night last night in what’s being called a new golden age for television.  Breaking Bad and Modern Family right up top in the TV awards.

Lot of talk from the stage about all the new ways we’re watching.  Everybody at their own time, in their own way.  Binge watching Kevin Spacey and the latest from Netflix.  Streaming on all kinds of devices, right down to smartphones.

A new season breaking right now – some good, some bad, lots of talk.

This hour, On Point:  the Emmys, and where TV is headed in the new season and beyond.

- Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Willa Paskin, television critic for Slate. (@willapaskin)

James Poniewozik, writes Time magazine’s Tuned In column on pop culture and society. (@poniewozik)

From Tom’s Reading List

Time Magazine: Beyond the Usual Suspects: 5 Emmy Races to Watch Out For – “TV is still largely a producers’ and writers’ medium, but the contributions of directors has gotten more critical and fan attention lately, and you can credit much of this group for that. But if there’s a single show among TV’s current crop that has made directing one of the stars of the show, it’s Breaking Bad, thoughtfully composed and visually imaginative, like a one-hour Coen Brothers Western aired once a week.”

Slate: Oh Great, Another ‘Equal Opportunity Offender’ – “Dads, a show about two annoying grown men’s extremely fraught and contentious relationships with their two unbearable fathers, is sourer than fermented lemonade, and that’s before it turns acrid with the taste of casual racism. If, in this new, subpar TV season, describing a show as one of its “best” is not that complimentary, describing a show as one of its worst means something special: Dads is the worst new comedy in quite some time.”

The Washington Post: Hey, TV critic — how’s that new fall 2013 TV season? (You’ll be sorry you asked!) – “We are now at a multimedia moment where the concept of a ‘fall season’— with its emphasis on advertising, ratings and a flood of new shows all premiering within days or weeks of one another — seems like an ancient and outdated ritual. That it happens to be the way many, many millions of people still ingest television doesn’t mean that it will be for much longer. The market is changing fast.”

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  • Shag_Wevera

    Too bad the Walking Dead falls victim to artsy fartsy snobbery. I think it is tremendous.

    • TFRX

      I’m having trouble parsing your words “falls victim to…snobbery”.

      Is the show lapsing into artsiness, or do people who don’t watch it think it’s too highbrow-artsy (too ambitious, too “MadMenny”?) and therefore some TV viewers miss out on a really good show?

      • Shag_Wevera

        Nah. I get a lot of blowback because WD is a “Zombie” show. I don’t think it gets the credit it deserves for developing great characters who constantly face an wxistential threat.

        • TFRX

          Thanks for clarifying.

  • Mike

    I am sure I am not alone… I seldom watch TV anymore. It seems most well made, high quality shows now feel they must meet a quota of obscenities and foul language. TV has also began to blatantly push political and moral agendas that so many people find offensive. Many many people are tuned out. (House of Cards, the Sopranos, The Living Dead, Breaking Bad, Glee, Modern Families, THe Newsroom and the like won’t be seen on any device my family uses.) I don’t watch a show on my own if I wouldn’t watch it with my teenage children. There are a few quality shows I feel comfortable with, but not many.

    Will the TV producers and financers realize this? There is a huge market not being touched.

  • Mike

    I am sure I am not alone… I seldom watch TV anymore. It seems most well made, high quality shows now feel they must meet a quota of obscenities and foul language. TV has also began to blatantly push political and moral agendas that so many people find offensive. Many many people are tuned out. (House of Cards, the Sopranos, The Living Dead, Breaking Bad, Glee, Modern Families, THe Newsroom and the like won’t be seen on any device my family uses.) I don’t watch a show on my own if I wouldn’t watch it with my teenage children. There are a few quality shows I feel comfortable with, but not many.

    Will the TV producers and financers realize this? There is a huge market not being touched.

  • mairelena

    “Golden age of Television”. Really? Violence, vulgarity, car crashes, gun fights, lawlessness. . . All the good shows are coming from the BBC. Thank g-d for Netflix (and I’m not religious).

  • Eric A Stratton

    How about the introduction of the writers for best variety show. The Daily Show and Colbert Report intros were incredible!

  • Emily4HL

    Oddly, reality television seems most successful now at getting viewers to watch in real time. I don’t know anyone watching old seasons of The Bachelor, DWTS, or America’s Got Talent. But people want to be up to date with all the gossip and who got eliminated. It’s hardly compelling after the fact, but lots of people still want to discuss with friends the day after.

    • Kathy

      I don’t know about real time. We watch sometime the same week though and I can’t imagine watching old seasons.

  • Mike

    I am sure I am not alone… I seldom watch TV anymore. It seems most well made, high quality shows now feel they must meet a quota of obscenities and foul language. TV has also began to blatantly push political and moral agendas that so many people find offensive. Many many people are tuned out. (House of Cards, the Sopranos, The Living Dead, Breaking Bad, Glee, Modern Families, THe Newsroom and the like won’t be seen on any device my family uses.) I don’t watch a show on my own if I wouldn’t watch it with my teenage children. There are a few quality shows I feel comfortable with, but not many.

    Will the TV producers and financers realize this? There is a huge market not being touched.

    • methos1999

      What’s wrong with The Newsroom? I’ve watched both seasons now and have seen no nudity, no violence and very little foul language. It’s similar to The West Wing in many ways in terms of the optimistic, high minded approach favored by Aaron Sorkin – usually need to watch an episode twice just to catch everything the characters are saying.

      And actually, you’re not alone – I agree that many shows seem unable to have excellent writing without putting in sex & violence.

      • Mike

        I have never seen it but I read that it is pretty much a paid political broadcast fr the left. I guess I should withhold judgement however until I have tried it.

        • methos1999

          Well I guess it would depend on how far to the right you lean and how sensitive you are to politics. The main character (Will McAvoy) on the Newsroom is a Republican who feels it’s the duty of the news & journalists to educate the electorate.

          The part that probably makes people think it’s a show by & for the left is because McAvoy is not an uber conservative far right Tea Party member. So McAvoy spends a good chunk of time exposing those who are homophobic & xenophobic, which often means said Tea Party types.

          However, season two did have some coverage of the OWS movement, who McAvoy basically called stupid – so he does go after liberal/progressive types, but it just happens that they liberal progressive types have far less targets.

          Politics aside, I happen to like The Newsroom because it’s about earnest, intelligent people trying to make a positive influence in the world. And I say politics aside, because it’s not always about politics, it’s about educating the public in order for us to make informed decisions – and sometimes the characters come into conflict with the corporation, such as covering the Casey Anthony Case; it’s tabloid journalism and they don’t want to do it, but if their ratings sink too low and the audience goes away, they won’t be able to do important stories.

    • https://www.facebook.com/kyle.rose Kyle Rose

      You are part of a shrinking demographic, Mike: people clearly like the grittiness of modern TV shows, as viewership demonstrates. Broadcast mediums only work for popular media, because broadcast is costly in terms of licensing and hardware costs. The internet is the only thing that will satisfy the specific desires of the long tail, so I’d look there for the programming you want: it works for niche music, so why not for visual entertainment?

      • Lori Cerny

        The Walking Dead has the highest viewership and it only has mild profanity and no obscenity. It does have graphic violence, though, but no more than what is shown on the evening news.

  • homebuilding

    I’d like to direct the conversation, briefly, to so called teee veee ‘journalism.’

    Simply, it’s just getting worse:
    –rank speculation
    –preoccupation with the ups and downs; winners/losers; political implications of everything
    –perpetual looping of file footage, without any meaning or message (the most recent example is of the fire trucks parked on the streets outside of the Navy Yard shootings: NO information; NO meaning; NO context (no identification as to if it was live or file tape–it could have been any ‘emergency’ anywhere in the world in the last ten years)
    –maps and meaningful graphics are rare, and when they are prepared, THEY REMAIN ON THE SCREEN FOR MERELY SECONDS !

    We are at a crisis point, and the revenge of the twenty year olds in the control room simply isn’t working

    Go ahead, hold the graphics and the maps continuously–narrate and draw circles on it, but cut the fever to be ‘on camera’ every second–it’s unbecoming and rarely, rarely meaningful. Actually, it has cheapened the product, dramatically

    • J__o__h__n

      That would be like complaining about the state of newspapers during a show on new novels.

  • Mike

    Golden age??? Not if you don’t want a lot of gratuitous offensive language, violence and sexual content in your home.

    • Kathy

      Some of us want shows that reflect reality and aren’t censored or dumbed down. That’s a big part of what makes TV so good today.

      • Mike

        Reality? Drug dealing teachers? Zombies? Bad language and gratuitous sex? I don’t see any of that in my reality but it fills the screens.

      • Jon

        Quite the contrary. Never has there been such a gap between TV and reality. Crime is down to early-60s levels, schools promote anti-bullying programs, the air is much cleaner since the CAA of 1970, parents nurture their children and are involved in their education at unseen levels. And yet, TV is filled with imaginary horrors and grotesque acts one can only associate with Berlin between the wars.

        I think we need to ask ourselves what this says about our culture.

  • creaker

    One byproduct of Netflix – I don’t want to wait until next week for the next show – over, and over, and over.

    I don’t watch a lot of TV – as such there are many series I haven’t watched – and I really don’t want to start them until they are complete. I can decide how many to watch and when – it’s fun to go through a good series like a bag of popcorn – and I know before I start whether the series was abruptly cancelled, rather than investing 3 years only to be left hanging.

  • gemli

    Broadcast TV is a vast wasteland, loaded with “paid programs” that are little more than ways of duping the ignorant out of their money. The entertainment shows are tepid, ironically afraid of offending the delicate sensibilities of the viewer while egregiously offending their intelligence. I can’t help thinking what it would be like if broadcast TV put something on worth watching. All the hand wringing by network execs would vanish overnight if they stopped worrying about an occasional dirty word or adult situation and concentrated on intelligent drama and real, complex emotions. Those viewers who found it too intense for their delicate sensibilities should turn to another channel, or watch Mary Poppins on DVD.

    There is WAY too much local news on broadcast TV, presumably because it’s cheap and easy. WBZ (in Boston) can’t wait to break in to tell us that it’s raining, or that it just rained, or that it might rain in the future. The near-hysterical overpromotion of new weatherman Eric Fisher was ludicrous, and the ubiquitous pseudo-glamorous news “babes” on every station can’t be a coincidence, but simply reflects pandering to an audience who can’t tell the difference between journalism and swimsuit modelling.

    If broadcast TV goes under it will be the fault of the people who are paid to keep it afloat. We’re 13 years into the 21st century. This can’t be the best we can do.

    • Mike

      You are right – we can do better. But, perhaps some viewers can only be stimulated by offensive language, violence and sexual content. I guess it takes drug dealing, naked, cussing, deviant zombies for some to feel “stimulated” or challenged.

  • Unterthurn

    Highly recommend – If you can get it Australia has some has had some great series this year:

    “The Time of Our Lives”

    “A Place To Call Home”

  • Lori Cerny

    Possibly the worst On Pint episode ever. Your guests were all petulant and immature fanboys of one specific T.V. show. So disappointed in the dialogue.

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