Those were the charmed substances that some years ago were felt to contain life-preserving properties.
And every single thread in this "Sopranos" episode builds on events from previous episodes and continues on through the rest of the season and beyond.
If narrative threads have experienced a population explosion over the past 20 years, flashing arrows have grown correspondingly scarce. But the "Hill Street" innovations weren't all that original; they'd long played a defining role in popular television, just not during the evening hours.
Over the last half-century, programming on TV has increased the demands it places on precisely these mental faculties.LUCY: Skin's jaundiced. Reality programming borrowed another key ingredient from games: the intellectual labor of probing the system's rules for weak spots and opportunities. Shows like "E. It may be drawn toward the sensational where content is concerned -- sex does sell, after all. Meanwhile, the Web has created a forum for annotation and commentary that allows more complicated shows to prosper, thanks to the fan sites where each episode of shows like "Lost" or "Alias" is dissected with an intensity usually reserved for Talmud scholars. Shows that may not be morally appropriate in the eyes of some viewers, may show more reality than having a facade of a moral world and require more cognitive attention Johnson Conventionally, narratives demarcate the line between texture and substance by inserting cues that flag or translate the important data. That's why the water-cooler conversation about these shows invariably tracks in on the strategy displayed on the previous night's episode: why did Kwame pick Omarosa in that final round? Draw a map of all those intersecting plots and personalities, and you get structure that -- where formal complexity is concerned -- more closely resembles "Middlemarch" than a hit TV drama of years past like "Bonanza. Blue," "E.
To make sense of an episode of "24," you have to integrate far more information than you would have a few decades ago watching a comparable show. And yet multi-threading is only part of the story. To make sense of that last "AB" line -- and the look of disbelief on Carter's and Lucy's faces -- you have to recall a passing remark uttered earlier regarding a character who belongs to a completely different thread.When people talk about the golden age of television in the early 70's -- invoking shows like "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "All in the Family" -- they forget to mention how awful most television programming was during much of that decade. The economics of television syndication and DVD sales mean that there's a tremendous financial pressure to make programs that can be watched multiple times, revealing new nuances and shadings on the third viewing. The show doesn't offer a clear distinction between dominant and minor plots; each story line carries its weight in the mix. Popular entertainment that addresses technical issues -- whether they are the intricacies of passing legislation, or of performing a heart bypass, or of operating a particle accelerator -- conventionally switches between two modes of information in dialogue: texture and substance. And every single thread in this "Sopranos" episode builds on events from previous episodes and continues on through the rest of the season and beyond. Televised Intelligence Consider the cognitive demands that televised narratives place on their viewers. A "Hill Street Blues" episode complicates the picture in a number of profound ways. Indeed, it might be just as helpful to have a rating system that used mental labor and not obscenity and violence as its classification scheme for the world of mass culture. Charted graphically, an average episode looks like this: Critics generally cite "Hill Street Blues" as the beginning of "serious drama" native in the television medium -- differentiating the series from the single-episode dramatic programs from the 50's, which were Broadway plays performed in front of a camera. As each show discloses its conventions, and each participant reveals his or her personality traits and background, the intrigue in watching comes from figuring out how the participants should best navigate the environment that has been created for them. Just as important -- if not more important -- is the kind of thinking you have to do to make sense of a cultural experience. And yet you almost never hear this story in popular accounts of today's media. The most ambitious show on TV to date, "The Sopranos," routinely follows up to a dozen distinct threads over the course of an episode, with more than 20 recurring characters. But the mind also likes to be challenged; there's real pleasure to be found in solving puzzles, detecting patterns or unpacking a complex narrative system. But the "Hill Street" innovations weren't all that original; they'd long played a defining role in popular television, just not during the evening hours.
The modern viewer who watches a show like "Dallas" today will be bored by the content -- not just because the show is less salacious than today's soap operas which it is by a small margin but also because the show contains far less information in each scene, despite the fact that its soap-opera structure made it one of the most complicated narratives on television in its prime.
In a sense, this is as much a map of cognitive changes in the popular mind as it is a map of on-screen developments, as if the media titans decided to condition our brains to follow ever-larger numbers of simultaneous threads. What devious strategy is Richard Hatch concocting now?
It's something you share. The final round of the first season of "The Apprentice," for instance, threw a monkey wrench into the strategy that governed the play up to that point, when Trump announced that the two remaining apprentices would have to assemble and manage a team of subordinates who had already been fired in earlier episodes of the show.
Charted graphically, an average episode looks like this: Critics generally cite "Hill Street Blues" as the beginning of "serious drama" native in the television medium -- differentiating the series from the single-episode dramatic programs from the 50's, which were Broadway plays performed in front of a camera.