Golden Age

September 30th, 2013 Comments Off on Golden Age

Emmy 1

By now, most of us have realized that television’s “golden age” is happening right now. Last weekend’s Emmy Awards (not the awards show itself, but the work nominated) demonstrated how clearly that is the case.

In category after category, there was an embarrassment of riches. Jon Hamm, Kevin Spacey, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Bonneville, and Damian Lewis in a category (lead actor, drama) won by Jeff Daniels. Similar wealth of talent, and fine performances, were evident in all the other acting categories.

Whether it was the sustained excellence of shows such as “Breaking Bad” and “Modern Family,” or the one-time excellence of “Behind the Candelabra,” big-time talent and some dazzling risk-taking resulted in an astonishing diversity of first-rate programming.

It used to be fashionable to refer to the TV set as the “idiot box,” but that attitude is anachronistic today for more than one reason. The box is gone, and if the idiocy can still be found there, so can some of the most impressive creative work in the nation today.

My own favorite program of the year was the BBC/HBO adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s “Parade’s End”—screenplay by Tom Stoppard, and with fantastic performances by Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall. The novel—actually four novels—is a great favorite of mine, and adaptations of one’s literary favorites more often disappoint than they please. However, Stoppard’s treatment was so acute, and the performances so compelling, that the miniseries became my personal touchstone for excellence this past year. But when those nominated (Ms. Hall was overlooked in the nominations) did not win, my disappointment was greatly reduced by the sense that so much great work was on display that any selection of a winner had to be a bit conditional. As they say in football, on any given Sunday . . .

In any case, seeing the solid lineup of excellent programs being honored, I was reminded of what a privilege it is to be involved in educating students for careers in TV and other communications fields.

And as we are constantly adapting to new technologies and business practices, we take heart from the ways the rise of new approaches (cable TV, online distribution of shows like Netflix’s “House of Cards,” and so on) open the door for new opportunities for creative folks to entertain, inform, and enlighten us all.

It’s nice to live in a golden age.

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