TV is better than film

0

Comments

Add +

It’s Time Out’s film month, but TV critic Alexi Duggins reckons cinema is obsolete and TV is where it’s at. Here are his ten reasons why

Read Film Editor Dave Calhoun's retort.

1. TV takes the time to go much, much deeper

At a real stretch, film directors have four hours of footage (excluding the possibility of a money-grubbing sequel or two), whereas TV directors can have anything up to 22 hours for a series. The movie industry cannot match the long-running subplots and subtle elucidation of characters’ personalities in a series like ‘Six Feet Under’, or the exquisitely paced novel-like intricacies of ‘The Wire’. Don’t believe me? Two words: ‘Brideshead Revisited’.

2. TV’s comedy track record is far better than film’s

Post-‘This Is Spinal Tap’, it’s hard to think of any mould-breaking film comedies: meanwhile the sophisticated use of cartoons pioneered by ‘The Simpsons’, the aggressively nonsensical meeja parody of ‘The Day Today’ and the intrusive camerawork of ‘Peep Show’ have led the way. What can the past decade of cinema hold up to the wit and understated hilarity of TV programmes like ‘Brass Eye’, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’, ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘The Thick of It’? Film versions of the last two, that’s what.

3. Documentaries simply don’t work on film

Audiences heading to the local multiplex pick and choose their viewing, so their chances of watching something they’re not interested in are minimal. As a result, documentaries on the big screen are preaching to the converted, so their educational scope and ability to change society is limited. In contrast, TV’s social impact even over the past few years has been astonishing. In 2003, ‘The Secret Policeman’ and its exposé of racism within the police prompted a shake-up of anti-racist policy within the force, and more recently, programmes like ‘Jamie’s School Dinners’ have actually driven Government agendas.

4. TV unites the nation, film just divides

By screening sporting fixtures, concerts such as ‘Live 8’ and events including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, television allows for shared experience, bringing the country together. Head down to the cinema, however, and a couple of hours in sticky-floored darkness is your destiny, where any attempt at human interaction will result in a narky film-buff hissing at you.

5. TV is far greater value for money

Compared with the £10-ish a pop for a single trip to most London cinemas, £150 gets you a Freeview box and a TV licence – providing the public with hundreds of hours of programming a day. Unrivalled value for money, not least because…

6. Shelling out for TV is money well spent

By stumping up the cash for a licence fee, you fund the BBC’s commitment to taking risks and making challenging, rewarding programming. Whereas a trip to the cinema just enables Brangelina to buy another kid.

7. Thought-provoking work is intrinsically harder to find in film

Box office crowds are dwindling and cash-desperate Hollywood execs are increasingly pandering to the masses. As a result, we get so many sequels that the dead horse isn’t so much flogged as sandblasted. There are examples of worthy major-release films trying to buck this trend (‘Frost/Nixon’, ‘Gomorrah’), but most of the silver screen’s thought-provoking artistic works rely on small independent cinema showings. Seeking them out is far harder than finding a hidden gem in a post-iPlayer world of TV.

8. Film’s day has ended, whereas TV is still coming into its own

With programmes like ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘The Sopranos’, television continues to create programming held up as the greatest work in its field to date. However, increasingly it’s hard to think of contemporary films which are bona fide all-time works of greatness. Just look at what many herald as the greatest film of all time: ‘Citizen Kane’. What did cinematic visionary Orson Welles do as one of the final works of his career? Voice Unicron in the ’80s cartoon version of ‘Transformers: The Movie’. And that’s essentially a long TV programme.

9. TV is far less guilty of false advertising

There’s a popular belief that while film is somehow a worthy and highbrow medium, TV is visual wallpaper, the purpose of which is to numb the minds of the masses. Sure, there are plenty of reality TV and quizzes on the small screen, but 90 per cent of any artform is drivel. In the box office top ten for Oct 10-12, we find ‘How To Lose Friends and Alienate People’, ‘Righteous Kill’ and ‘Mirrors’. These are films variously described by our team of critics as ‘bland, old-fashioned and largely mirthless’, a ‘dispiriting affair’ and ‘without question the dumbest horror movie of recent years’. At least TV doesn’t have to put on airs to con people into attendance.

10. TV allows the viewer a more satisfying emotional experience

Escapist long-running soaps like ‘Coronation Street’ allow the viewer to develop a relationship with a character over decades. As a result, the emotional ties developed with characters make for a far richer viewing experience than anything film can offer – despite Harrison Ford’s best nonsensical fridge-nuking attempts at reprising Indiana Jones.Agree? Fuming? Leave your comments below

Read Film Editor Dave Calhoun's retort.

Author: Alexi Duggins. Photography Rob Greig



Users say

25 comments
Bonjour,La pre9paration de la deuxie8me e9dition d
Bonjour,La pre9paration de la deuxie8me e9dition d

Bonjour,La pre9paration de la deuxie8me e9dition du festival vient de coemcnmer, nous ne pouvons pas vous donner pour l’instant la liste des films des se9ances scolaires.Bien entendu, les informations sur les films se9lectionne9s seront disponibles sur notre site de8s que possible.Pour vous donner une ide9e de notre programmation, voici la liste des films des se9ances scolaires de la premie8re e9dition :Nympheas, le grand reave de Monet (2006) de Jean-Paul Fargier, 52’Piero Della Francesca (1993) d’Alain Jaubert (Se9rie ab Palettes bb), 59’Gustave Courbet, Les origines de son monde (2007) de Romain Goupil, 52’Le myste8re de la teate Henri IV (2010) de Ste9phane Gabet et Pierre Belet, 72’Le Cri des murs (1976) de Denis Chegaray, 56’14Nous n’avions alors se9lectionne9e que des films documentaires. Pour la deuxie8me e9dition, nous programmerons e9galement les films de fiction.Par ailleurs, toutes les propositions des enseignants sont les bienvenues. Bien cordialement,

Egg
Egg

I know this is old hat by now, but I'm doing a film project on the subject and came across this. I hear what some of these article-bashers are saying, but I think it's because the points were written too vaguely. In terms of art I firmly believe the film to be superior, but artful and inspirational films are not what's being featured in theatres today. For the average, entertainment-minded audience who wants to enjoy something contemporary, watch HBO and Showtime instead of pointless sequels, re-makes and other franchise-humping abortions. In terms of films that received mass-theatrical release, Scorcese is the only one in a long time who has brought anything remotely good to the table.

slatter
slatter

Thanks for such an excellent point George, I think some of these posters have indeed lost the whole point of this article and are so intent on disagreeing with the article that they may be largely ignoring the great points it makes. George Lucas said something similar 3 and a half years ago after his final (supposedly) Star Wars movie came out in movie theaters, that he felt that the days of the big blockbuster movie were over and that everything would be television based. I disagree wholeheartedly with that statement and what I think motivated him to make it (greed, ego). I think, whether you prefer TV or films or like me enjoy both to an extent, the point of this article is important. Even moreso if you are an artist who entertains the idea of being part of the entertainment world. Many other people I have spoken with over the years echo many of the same sentiments both for and against the points here. I believe both film and TV are still evolving as an entertainment medium. I believe there is still a long way to go before we reach the artistic pinnacle of either and I'm also very thankful for that. I believe that this article resonates on a theme of frustration with what seems like more of a slump in films than a decline.

George
George

The writer of the last comment should stop trying to hijack the cool bus and just get back on the irony plane. Obviously the comment of some nancy-boy pinko trying to denigrate the medium of the working man. He clearly doesn't understand the thrust of the article which is pretty well reasoned.

Josh
Josh

Alexi Duggins is, once again, misguided, self-riteous and downright pernicious. He needs to take a good look at himself.

taxfreetv
taxfreetv

TV especially British is rubbish. Some Americian dramas are fab but I tend to buy the series and watch them like a movie without commercial breaks. I think the TV tax should be abolished. Does anyone know how I can legally avoid paying this draconian tax (I could spend the cash on some decent American drama)

Jim
Jim

The best things I have seen over recent year have all been TV Shows. Sopranos, The Wire, Curb, Flight of the Conchords etc. I struggle to think of more than five films of the same period that are really that greta

Tomass
Tomass

What a load of shite. Film is the young art and has so much to devlop.It has sooo much more impact than even the biggest tv.Anyway who wants to watch the Queens Golden Jubile. hey. lets all stay at home and watch boxes all our life,

majestic
majestic

This article is laughable. There is no comparison to tv and film. Film is inspiring, creative, unbelievable and thought provoking. Film is where the experts lie, not in some gimmick ridden tv show. I have never preferred watching tv to film, ever. Most of the time ill be watching a film on tv and think, what a waste of time when i could just watch this without the commercials. Now, yes, there are tv series that i liked, but honestly i have never gotten into a series because of what it is....a series. Gimmick ridden and lacking any meaning in unoriginal after unoriginal episode, writers struggle to create anything worth watching, and thats the point, nothing is worth watching when its so drawn out, so fabricated, such garbage. Thats half this guys argument right there, that you care more about the characters due to how much time you spend watching episodes....aka shitty shitty shitty shitty mini films. I have never cared more about characters in tv than in film. Film is profound, an experience, leaving you laughing or in tears. Everybody loses interest about characters in a tv show because its so fake, no ones life is pure excitement in a formula that happens for an hour, no ones life is like that, and it comes out as pure shit again and again. I cannot see how the person writing this article truly feels that way and is just either ranting about the poor quality of films ( still better quality then a made for tv...tv series any day), a popular thing to do, or the the person is just that emotionally numb. tv series are lies and film is truth, there is no comparing them.

Eric
Eric

What is a freeview box and a TV license?

Paul P
Paul P

The other thing about film (at least in the cinema), is that you leave the house. Watching a film is an event - you can make an evening of it, with friends. Whereas with TV, most people simply switch on, slump on the couch, and vegetate their lives away. Film is more like the theatre than TV, with all the advantages it holds in getting off your arse and socialising. Except that in film, unlike the theatre, anything is possible. Also, because you've paid to get into a movie, and you're sitting in front of a huge screen in the dark, you are more likely to invest your interest in the subject. I saw Kenneth Brannagh's Hamlet (which is over 4 hours) on the big screen. There's no way I'd watch that at home, with all the distractions - even over two or three installments. Because there's no threat of the viewer skipping channels, a movie doesn't have to be constantly exciting or throwing up plot twists. You say that long-running soaps allow the viewer to develop a relationship with a character over decades. As a result, the emotional ties developed with characters make for a far richer viewing experience. I think you're more likely to find that people who watch regularly are simply more likely to be forgiving of poor quality drama. Can you think of a single episode of Eastenders which, if it were a film, people would pay to see on the big screen? I think you'll find that a great many people (not all) simply watch TV because they have nothing else to do, and so will watch just about anything, so the TV companies will give them anything. Sure, occasionally there's a good series made about something, but there are 48 freeview channels. Over 24 hours, they pump out 1152 hours worth of viewing. I doubt that much of it is worth watching. I haven't owned a TV for over a year now. I find the internet far more informative and entertaining. I still go to the cinema though.

slatter
slatter

Good article. Here's the thing, whether you agree on the points here or not, it raises good questions. Should film continue the way it is? Has it run its course or is it simply time for the next evolutionary step forward? I think there is still room for film to grow. On the other hand, c'mon can you really say it's that much fun to spend the same amount on say November 7th to see large screen version of what you'll get on DVD sometime in March or April? Do we really get a superior presentation going to the dark theatre to see these films? Let's just throw the story arc issue out the wiondow because you are now comparing apples to oranges, the 2 hour movie is inherently a different creature than the 18 hour story arc of shows like 24. To me, a season of 24 is a REALLY long movie, not so much a TV show, it simply happens to show on TV. I think it comes down to the producers and directors making the most of their tools to draw the viewership or fill seats. Now a word to those of you who disagree to the point of insult, I think the point of this article was to present a viewpoint and comparison, admittedly biased as it is, of the two mediums and to get people thinking about what was said, the writer did after all encourage commentary, do you not believe this person deserves our respect and even our thanks regardless of whether you agree?

Krakak
Krakak

This article is absurd.

RebelDog
RebelDog

This article is utter nonsense. For a start TV and film are not really like-for-like. Different types of entertainment to serve a different emotional / entertainment need, it is ludicrous to compare two things simply because they both happen to be watched on a screen. TV is often lame, low budget, packed with adverts, and many of us waste more time channel hopping than actually watching something. Works of brilliance on TV are probably as rare as works of brilliance in film, music, literature, and art. Film is a very different beast, often lavished with big budgets and world class creatives who provide a self-contained "experience" for the senses. When was the last time TV came up with something as good as The Dark Knight or as exciting as Terminator 2 (at the time)? Nope. TV comes second place matey. Soap operas are utterly rubbish and the lowest form of on-screen entertainment and comparing a long running soap like Coronation Street with film is futile in the extreme. Anyone want to go see Eastender the Movie? Nah, thought not.

Chris
Chris

Rather poor arguments here, not the least of which is that length is somehow comparable to worth. I personally don't watch 'Lost,' but nor have I been under a rock shouting with my fingers in my ears for the past few years, so I know that one common complaint lately is that it's being dragged on to the point of becoming asinine; and as for long-running non-serialized television, the decades-old Simpsons has been wallowing in stale meta-humor for almost ten years. By the logic of length being proportional to quality, 'The DaVinci Code' is better literature than, for example, 'The Great Gatsby,' 'Fahrenheit 451,' or any other short novel. Furthermore, just because a character is long-established doesn't mean they are well established. Do any of us really feel an actualy, emotional connection to Bart Simpson beyond amusement at his childish antics (if the reader can even count oneself among the remaining fans of this long-stale show)? Nevermind the fact that almost no films are actually mentioned in the argument. This also falls foul of the belief that new cinema is crap because so much of it is bad; but history always shows the really good films survivng, while the trash sinks. I'm sure there was plenty of drek churned out in the 1940s, but most of it is lost. Also, and this is just vindictively personal, and probably negates the rest of my argument, but I always felt the sacred cow of pretentious TV fandom 'Arrested Development' to be intensely overrated. Not bad or unfunny, mind you, but also not the pinnacle of comic genius so many people flaunt it as.

lucas
lucas

here's what kills TV: time constraints, commercials breaks, and content rules. movies are free to run as long as they want, are paced appropriately, and can say "fuck" and show tits if they want. obviously, HBO and Showtime can escape these boundaries...

Derek
Derek

I agree 100% with this article. for the past year or so i've been saying that tv nowadays is way better than films for the exact reasons that have been stated here. i'm glad there are more people out there who share my point of view on this subject (something i am very passionate about). and thanks for mentioning the wire, which is probably the most underrated show of all time

Joe
Joe

I actually agree with this article. I still think the best of film is better than the best of television, but television is consistently better... even with the commercials.

Mental Floss
Mental Floss

I agree and disagree.. I also really love the shows you mentioned and some more.. But I download them and watch them as .avi's.. No commercials.. and no weeks for a story arc to unfold.. I have watched the Sopranos in 2 months (3 tops). Not the 6 years it took hbo to air it.. I also agree that 90% of all movies really really suck and don't deserve to be watched.. But there's always a Stanley Kubrick, or Marty Scorsese, or David Lynch to really awe you with their work. And I also watch a lot of movies with friends.. You're always together in different formations.. Its really difficult to go in to a series like that.. Movies are more convenient for that type of viewing. And the 10 %(tops) of movies that do rise above the level of todays tv shows are really worth it.

Paul
Paul

The idea of television's being superior to movies is based on the assumption that you live alone, or at least don't have children. Watching a ten minute segment of a program without interruption is a near miracle. When I go to a movie, watching it is all there is to do in that place. No crying children. No dogs. No cats. No appliances running in the background. Paradise.

JR
JR

I agree with this article in the sense that I've always thought TV has the POTENTIAL to be something special, but sadly, it rarely if ever lives up to this potential. Maybe it's different in the UK, but here in the States, TV has to appeal to the masses, just as movies do, in order to survive, and the masses always have and always will prefer garbage. I personally consider the above-mentioned Arrested Development to be the pinnacle of TV comedy, but it barely lasted three short seasons, and that was only thanks to all the critical acclaim it was receiving, because not nearly enough people were actually tuning into it. As a result, the show faded away long before its time. There are countless other examples like this of brilliant shows getting snuffed out in their infancy, while reality TV and other nonsense continue to pollute the airwaves. Maybe the UK has a better track record, but in the States, television is still basically a wasteland compared to film. Furthermore, while you're right that movie theaters may be dying out, film itself is not. I think you'll find that many people these days don't watch movies exclusively (if at all) in the theater.

Tv & Film Both Well Loved
Tv & Film Both Well Loved

I think it's not a well thought out article. He's basically comparing apples to bannanas; TV and Films both have their good points and bad points. Oh, and by the way, I get irritated when someone talks loudly while I'm trying to watch television, so it isn't just people who want to enjoy films in the theatre instead some loudmouths self-important conversation.

Ragesaint
Ragesaint

Good article. I agree with most points. I've been watching TV on DVD for nearly a decade now (I don't watch aired television), and I find that even the best theatrical films leave me wanting more. Character development and storytelling via television (when done properly) are simply unmatchable by film; regardless of the effort.

Namless
Namless

You know some people dont have the time or comitment to watch a tv series for weeks, with a movie you get it all in one sitting and the special effects are better, Tv is just stuff in between adds

FilmChampion
FilmChampion

Ridiculous to say that television is better because it can carry on for years (Oh, and Coronation Street is really a pinnacle of television's achievement) but films are bad because they have too many sequels. TV is good, but films are great, and just beacause good films are hard to find (THEY AREN'T BY THE WAY) doesn't mean you should sit down and watch tv. And the comment about Brad and Angelina is stupid, it allows studios to make more films, just as a TV license allows TV companies to make more films. You are just trying to rationalize your own inability to cope with cinema.



Top Stories

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

Paul Thomas Anderson interview

The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.

Read the interview

Hilarious horror films

Hilarious horror films

Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.

Read 'Hilarious horror films'

What's your film guilty pleasure?

What's your film guilty pleasure?

Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.

Read 'Film guilty pleasures'

50 years of James Bond

50 years of James Bond

From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.

Read '50 years of James Bond'

Autumn horror films

Autumn horror films

We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.

Read about this Autumn's best horror movies

On the set of Skyfall

On the set of Skyfall

Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.

Read 'On the set of Skyfall'

When teen stars turn serious

When teen stars turn serious

Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.

Read 'When teen stars turn serious'

Bond: then and now

Bond: then and now

Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?

October film highlights

October film highlights

Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.

Sam Mendes interview

Sam Mendes interview

Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.

Sally Potter interview

Sally Potter interview

The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.

Daniel Craig interview

Daniel Craig interview

'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’

Tim Burton interview

Tim Burton interview

The director talks about his new film, 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.