In contemplating the comparison of film and television, I find that there are similarities and differences depending on the quality and level of each. The length of each represents an important factor. A television series by nature allows the focus to be more spread throughout the characters. Each episode can focus on one person or group within the show and could follow with a completely different approach to the following episode. Films differ in that they are closed. Only in series films, like Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings films, do you find a more episodic tendency, and that tendency arises from the fact that the movies come from a series of books. The films are, in effect, long episodes.
Like all forms of art, there are differing levels of form. Last week we watched Mad Men, a television series targeted at an older, more educated audience interested in the advertising world of the 1960’s. This week’s viewings were “Freaks and Geeks,” “Skins,” and “My So-Called Life.” Each of these shows addressed high school in different manners. In “Skins” I found it fascinating the struggle Cassie went through each day, and looking at her home life one can see why she felt no one cared, despite the attempts of her friends to get her to eat. I think the anonymous text messages are a manifestation of her subconscious wanting her to get better against what the rest of her body and mind are telling her. “My So-Called Life” embodies the awkwardness of high school, from the sense of not belonging to the desire for what we cannot have. “Freaks and Geeks” also addresses the awkwardness of high school, but more from the perspective of a tiny child dealing with bullies and a girl searching for herself after the death of her grandmother.
I always think it’s interesting when awards shows come up, like the Emmy’s or the Golden Globes. The only movies nominated are those that are dramatic and have a deep, thought-provoking plot, and often they are not particularly pleasurable to watch. Brokeback Mountain, for instance, while critically acclaimed, was also controversial in its subject matter, and many people probably saw it only once, maybe twice at most. On a lower level, a movie like Knocked Up (featuring a grown-up Seth Rogen from “Freaks and Geeks”) is watched over and over again because it does not require as much thought and provides entertainment. This may be entirely my own opinion, but in choosing a movie to watch, I tend to lean towards the less ultra-dramatic films, and my choice in television are no different. For instance, the three shows I mentioned at the beginning of class were Entourage, Friday Night Lights, and America’s Next Top Model. While entertaining, these shows are not considered particularly intellectual in subject matter. I believe film and television can both be looked at critically, despite the different formations, because they still attempt to discuss the same or similar issues. The biggest difference that I see is that there are so many varieties of television that it makes it more difficult to find the higher level through the clutter, but television may still be viewed through a critical lens.