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February 1995, Week 2


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Ulf Dalquist <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 10 Feb 1995 16:52:06 CST
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
Matt McAllister wrote:
>I hope David Desser doesn't mind me spinning off a related issue from his
>initial post about the quality of movies vis a vis TV.  I've been noticing
>for awhile now, in my opinion, that comedy is much better on TV than at the
>movies.  It seems like I get many more laughs in a good half hour of The
>Simpsons, or Seinfeld, or Fraiser, or Roseanne, than in an hour and a half
>of any movie I've seen in the past three years.
>Is this because (1) It's easier to sustain comedy in a half hour format
>than in a longer format?; (2) Because characters are already established in
>a half hour series format its easier to use these characters and their
>relationships for humor?; (3) Given the plot driven/action orientation of
>films these days, writing has been devalued in films over the last 20
>years, and because TV is more of a conversational medium it has
>concentrated on dialogue more than film has, thus attracting better comedy
>writers?; (4) My expectations for film comedy are higher than TV because I
>have to shell out $6 for the films, or $2 for the video?; (5) I'm totally
>wrong so why don't I just shut up?; or (6) Some other reason???
>Thanks for listening (reading?)!
I think you're right on all counts - 'xept (5). I'd just like to add to (6) that
the fiction TV programs tends to be less offensive, easier to follow and
generally less "difficult" than film. Since my english wouldn't do his theories
justice, I can just recommend John Ellis' (1982) 'Visible Fictions' London:
Routledge, a magnificent comparison between film and TV narratives.
This is *not* intended as an insult, I've become more
tolerant/interested/fanatic with easy-going TV comedies over the years. Guess
it's got something to do with alzheimers'...
Cheers, (quite a good comedy as well...)