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Post-Television



The first five episodes of Doctor Who's Series 7 are airing this month worldwide. In much of the press for the new season, the creative forces behind the program haven't been shy about wanting to tell us how "cinematic" and "epic" the new episodes are/will be. Anyone with half-a-mind not to trust everything that is told them tend to yawn in reaction to such hype, yet I find the whole 'it's like a movie!' trend in television to be a curious thing.

The decision to have television programs look more like movies has been fairly obvious for at least a decade, if not longer. I'm sure there are reasons for why this was done, but it's often left me scratching my head a bit. Perhaps it's an antiquated notion but, for me, movies are movies and television is television. I've not felt the need for TV to look more cinematic. It's true that with widescreen TV sets, it's more sensible to film shows in widescreen format, but that's about it.

I remember watching a new set of episodes of a favorite program, Midsomer Murders. This was a few years ago, and suddenly the program's beginning changed noticeably. Instead of the theme song playing over the opening credits each episode, now the stories began simply with the title card flashed briefly on the screen, followed by the credits being displayed during the opening scenes, not unlike in a film. I missed the theme music. Thankfully, after a couple seasons, they put it back.

Now with Doctor Who, we have the production team outwardly proclaiming that their intent is to make the program look more like a film. Why? What's wrong with it just being a TV show? Other programs are doing the cinema-look thing, too: Luther, Copper, The Walking Dead, Boss, Mad Men Hell On Wheels, etc. It's baffling. Are people such fickle viewers -- so demanding of being entertained by style over substance -- that they require a more 'cinematic look' to their televisual programming?




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