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The Evolution of Television Dramas and the New Industry of Re-imagining

By Edited Jan 17, 2015 1 1
The Evolution of Television Dramas and the New Industry of Re-imagining
Credit: Opensource

I've been watching some of the old 70s television shows on Hulu and Netflix. I love to watch episodes from that era because it takes me back to a time when television plots were simple and often comical, even the dramas. This light hearted approach produced some of the best television shows.

However, there are some things that stick out when I watch certain shows like cop dramas with lots of car chases. Many of these chases were filmed in the 70s before independent suspension on automobiles was common. If you do not know a lot about cars, independent suspension is a term used to describe a suspension system that allows each wheel on the same axle to move vertically independently of each other. So when cars hit a bump or turns a corner, the entire car is not affected.

The Evolution of Television Dramas and the New Industry of Re-imagining

How can you see this in old tv shows?

Well, whenever you see a car chase going down in Starkey and Hutch or the Rockford Files, watch how the cars sway from side to side when they turn a corner. The entire car tilts to one side. You wonder how people were ever able to drive those land yachts. 

Television programming used to be very primitive, for lack of a better term. You can see it in everything they did from the intros for every show to the previews before a show began. Each show had to have a long drawn out theme song where they showed all of the names of the actors with their faces, something you never see now. Think about that for a minute. Shows simply do not have intros anymore and they only show the names of the actors during the opening scene when a show begins. If you are a youngster and want to see what all of TV used to look like, watch an episode of the reincarnation of Dallas on TNT. I was glad to see that they brought the old intro back when they rebooted the series a couple of years ago. Another reboot in recent years, Hawaii 50, also has the original theme song and I love it.

Someone figured out finally that if you got rid of that 60 second intro with a theme song, you could sell 2 additional 30 second commercials. While that might have been a boost for the revenue of a network, I think we all lost as viewers. Some of those intros were great, especially some of the themes by Mike Post. He had a hand in everything from the Rockford Files to Magnum P.I. 

One of the funniest things to me on those previews at the beginning of every show was how they basically told you everything that was about to happen in that episode. Honestly, it was worse than the upcoming movie previews they show you at theaters now. Some were worse than others, like Battlestar Galactica or The A Team, both created by the same men, Donald Bellisario and Glen Larson. 

Eventually the soap opera dramas like Dallas and Dynasty started showing a recap such as "Last time on ..." but it was just about what happened on the very last episode. Never mind that someone might be tuning in after missing a few episodes and might need a broader catch-up, particularly if the current episode was going to address something that happened earlier in the season.

Remember, this was way before DVRs, and VCR recorders did not start to arrive in a lot of homes until the mid-80s. I remember we got our first one in 1985 and I recorded all 18 hours

The Evolution of Television Dramas and the New Industry of Re-imagining
of North and South with Patrick Swayze. Using those tapes was so clumsy. I am a high use DVR viewer now, so I can't imagine life without one.

Whenever most television shows begin now, they show a brief recap of what happened on the previous episode to get you up to speed, but it also intertwines bits from much older episodes that are integral to the present episode you are about to watch. We take that for granted now, but it took them decades to come up with that device.  

The first show that I can ever remember doing that was "Previously on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in the late 90s. Don’t laugh, that was a great show. And considering it was created by the great Josh Whedon, it would not be hard to imagine that he came up with that new way of bringing audiences up to speed.

In any event, I miss some of the old tv shows. I have recently been on a Battlestar Gallactica 1978 binge. The original series that is, not that God awful "re-imagining” from Ronald Moore on the SciFy Channel in the mid aughts.

The Evolution of Television Dramas and the New Industry of Re-imagining

In fact, the best news I have heard recently about new movies is that they have given the green light for a new Battlestar Galactica movie and I am intrigued because the original creator, Glen Larson is going to be heading it. Apparently that reboot on SciFy left a bad taste in his mouth too. I can't wait to see that one. I would like to see them do at least a trilogy of movies, maybe more. Please, no more blond Cylons though. And please make Starbuck a man again. His relationship with Apollo was critical in the original series. Ok, I am done with that.

One final thought on this term “re-imagining” that I mentioned earlier. Re-imagining is taking someone else’s idea and making money off of it. That is my opinion. And yes, it usually involves screwing up the original. Again, my opinion. Look how they re-imagined Total Recall with that horrible remake a couple of years ago.

Yes, it is all legal because the originals have to sign off on it, but I wish they would stop with that nonsense. If you want further evidence that Hollywood is out of ideas, look at all of the re-imagining going on these day, from Star Trek reboots, to a Spider-Man reboot in less than a decade since the originals, to how far the studios are dipping into the Marvel Universe.

Ghost Rider was a relatively minor character in the Marvel Universe so did he really deserve his own movie? And to my surprise I saw the other day where there was a sequel in 2012.  They are scrapping the bottom of the barrel on that one.

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Final Thoughts

Re-imagining and recycling old ideas is the big trend in Hollywood right now. I am not a big fan of that trend. However, I have to admit, there is one re-imagining I am in favor up just because the original owner lost his mind with the franchise. I am looking forward to the new Star Wars movies now that George Lucas has relinquished control to Disney. Lucas should have quit while he was ahead with episodes VI, V and VI. Those prequels he did in the late 90s are unwatchable, especially Star Wars The Phantom Menace. That was more like a Disney movie. That is one franchise that needed some re-imagining from fresh eyes so I applaud that decision

However, if you ever want to laugh your head off, pull up some of the old shows on Hulu. Television has come a long ways since the corny dramas of the 70s and 80s with their simplistic plots and over-the-top intros. If you are feeling nostalgic  you can find many of the old tv shows on DVD.

Still, they are fun to watch and remind you of a simpler time when the world did not seem so complicated and whats on tv tonight wasn't so dark and dreary. There were no DVRs or internet with the capability to stream tv online free. You just had to be there to watch it.

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Comments

Jun 27, 2014 1:34pm
BeanKeeper
Interesting read. Good thoughts. Thanks.
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