Friday, January 2, 2009

The New Golden Age of Television Roars Back

Have you seen Heather Havrilesky's dyspeptic The year the small screen fell flat in Salon, subtitled "Lackluster pilots, slumping sophomore shows and the devolution of the serial drama. The golden age of TV suddenly looked tarnished in 2008."

Here's the picture she paints ...

2008 not only marked one of the worst years of TV in the last decade, but all of the momentum and promise of the past few years seemed to vanish in a haze of crappy, unoriginal new programming, lackluster sophomore shows, flaccid sitcoms and pointless cable comedies.

Some bloggers agree with this, at least in part. The Flaming Nose, for example, cites Dexter, Mad Men, and True Blood as exceptions to Havrilesky's screed, but calls it nonetheless "well reasoned".

But I don't know what picture, or screen, Havrilesky or the Flaming Nose have been looking at.

The past year - 2008 - brought us one of the best seasons of Lost, a cut-throat knock-down legal thriller in Damages, the best episodes ever shown of Law and Order: Criminal Intent, outstanding seasons indeed of Dexter and Brotherhood on Showtime, and The Wire, In Treatment, John Adams, and, yes, True Blood on HBO and Mad Men on AMC, to name just a few.

And here's what we have in store this and next month of 2009: the debuts of new seasons of 24 (January 10-11) and Lost (January 21) - among the top shows ever to have been on television - as well as Battlestar Galactica (January 16), Big Love (January 18), and Damages (January 7), plus the resumption of Fringe (January 20), Life on Mars (January 28), Heroes (February 2), and The Sarah Connor Chronicles (February 13). And, come to think of it, of The Unit (January 4), The Closer (January 26), and Bones (January 15) - none of which I've yet reviewed here on Infinite Regress (as I have all the others), because I've not yet thoroughly caught up with the earlier parts of the current season, because they're not yet on DVD, and I prefer watching these great shows on my television not computer screen.

And, while we're at it, there's also The L Word, which is coming back for its final season on January 18, and I reviewed the first four episodes of here last week. Another fine show.

So, is the new golden age of television - as I called it in an op-ed in Newsday in July 2006 - "tarnished"? Only if you're wearing some kind of rust-colored glasses...

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