Archive for December 14th, 2009

Aught Lang Syne: The Golden Age of Television

Probably the best illustration of television’s place in the culture at the beginning of this decade are the routes taken by its most prominent auteurs to the field.

David Chase, the creator, head writer, and executive producer of The Sopranos, settled for a career in television when he was unable to break into film; when Fox didn’t pick up the pilot, Chase planned to re-edit it and release the first episode as a film. Aaron Sorkin, creator of The West Wing, was a screenwriter for plays and films; The West Wing was actually developed from unused plot elements from his script for 1995’s The American President. Joss Whedon, creator of cult hits Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and others, originally wrote Buffy as a film. Friday Night Lights, of course, was developed loosely from the film—and book—of the same name.

And, of course, David Simon and Ed Burns, the creative duo behind The Wire (as well as The Corner, Homicide, and Generation Kill) came directly from the subject matter they would be writing on: Simon as a crime reporter for the Baltimore Sun and Burns as a homicide detective, and later a school teacher, in Baltimore.

In short, good TV was something that seemed to happen by accident. Accidentally or not, though, the television produced during the Aughts was better than anything that came before it. Continue reading

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Monday Medley

What we read while looking for a more suitable sponsor…

  • We almost always recommend something from it, but consider reading this week’s NY Times Magazine cover to cover: It’s the 9th Annual Year in Ideas Issue and it features an interview with eminent University of Chicago Philosopher Martha Nussbaum.
  • When we read Russian lit–and you know we do–we do our best to procure the translation by the husband and wife team of Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. The Millions recently did an interview with the pair about their methods, philosophies, and future projects.