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Is this the Golden Age of TV? Zack takes a look…

July 13th, 2012 by Zack Mandell 1 Comment

TV has had many highs and lows, but recently it is having a run unlike anything seen before. Will this be remembered as the Golde Age of TV?

If you ask film scholars what was the golden age of cinema, you are liable to get differing opinions, but those opinions will be split into two camps for the most part: Defenders of the 40s and defenders of the 70s. Indeed, good arguments can be made by both sides. One side has Citizen Kane and Casablanca as prime examples, but the other side has The Godfather and Taxi Driver.
There’s not going to be these kind of factions when pondering the golden age of pop music. A minority of hipsters may say the 90s, but the general consensus seems to be the 60s. It really is hard to top the era of The Beatles, The Stones, Dylan, Hendrix and Joplin. Literature is such an old art form that to pinpoint any one specific golden age would be simply impossible.
Television is not such an old form.
There really aren’t any regularly scheduled television shows that predate the 50s. In the time that’s spanned since the advent of the tube, there have obviously been many exceptional shows, like MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Hill Street Blues and Seinfeld to name a few. But many critics argue that chronic television surfers should be happier than ever, and have ascribed our modern times as the golden age of television. While it’s hard to fathom such a merit because of deplorable reality shows like Jersey Shore, the fact of the matter is that there are so many spectacular shows on the opposite end of the spectrum. Here are the best of the crop as far as I’m concerned.

Mad Men
Many critics would contend that the departed HBO show The Sopranos was the forerunner to this supposed golden age, so it’s only appropriate that the best show on television right now was created by a writer from that show. Week after week, Matthew Weiner and crew produce a rich, riveting and always surprising program. This AMC show, about employees in an advertising agency in 1960s New York, candidly depicts the era, an era that played host to much social change. The ensemble quite simply ranks as one of the greatest ever assembled for a television show, and the production values are nothing short of impeccable. This show has style to burn.
Watch the trailer here

Breaking Bad
Remember Hal, the goofy, eccentric father from Malcolm in the Middle?  Bryan Cranston, the actor that portrayed him, seems to not. At least there are no shades of him in Cranston’s current role as beloved high school teacher cum tenacious meth kingpin Walter White on the AMC show Breaking Bad. Cranston is the MVP of modern television. He displays the brutal avarice of man, but he continually finds tender moments to make us empathize with his situation. Apart from him, the show is still pretty phenomenal. The other cast members are uniformly excellent, and the writers seem to possess an endless amount of surprises up their sleeves. Whenever this show is on, I become well-acquainted with the edge of my seat.
Watch the trailer here

Modern Family
Yes, there are great shows that are not on AMC, and yes, some of these shows aren’t so, um, depressing. ABC’s Modern Family is the prime example. This uproarious sitcom, about an extended family in southern California, is wickedly clever, expertly performed and oftentimes as touching as it is funny. The writers of this show are famous for using incidents from their lives and translating them to the weekly scripts, which provides for family dynamics that feel very real. And given the hijinks that can occur on this show, it makes you wonder what kind of lives these writers lead.
Watch the trailer here

As I said, this is arguably the golden age of television, so there are wonderful shows aplenty, many of which get rewarded at Emmy time and by critics on top ten lists. These three just happen to be the most golden of this golden age in my opinion…

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Zack Mandell is a movie enthusiast and owner of and writer of movie reviews. He writes extensively about the movie industry for sites such as Gossip Center, Yahoo, NowPublic, and Helium.

  • Christopher Williams

    With a lot of movie stars turni g to tv more money is being put into production value and we are getting better shows out of it. Speilberg’s Falling Skies is a great example of money being poured into tv to make it even better.

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