Thursday, May 11, 2006

TV Gets a Bad Rap

I work in the world of theatre. And in that world, a lot of young playwrights look down on television writing. It's not as "pure" an artform as writing plays. People who go to the theatre shouldn't enjoy's beneath them.

However, you'd be surprised at how many successful playwrights write for TV. And there is some damn good TV out there.

Without a Trace" tonight, for instance. This episode has a black teenage boy and a white teenage girl disappear at the same time. It lays out pretty clearly the vicious cycle of institutional racism. The white girl gets all the media coverage, thus creating more leads for her case, thus forcing FBI resources to focus on her rather than the boy. The scenes between the two mothers are quiet and poignant. And the strife between the head of the department (played by Anthony LaPaglia) and his good friend and colleague (played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste) is fascinating. She tells him, "you were too arrogant to believe that this wouldn't touch you. This touches everyone."

The episode ends with the revelation that one teenager is dead and one is alive. Anthony's character walks up to both mothers to break the news...but you never find out who died.

I think there is real art in television. Not in every show, but it's out there.
There...I said it.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

While I didn't see this episode, I do agree with your belief that there is quality writing to be found on television. I've always thought that it's harder to be creative "in a box". It's one thing to be experimental and iconoclastic in the world of indepent film or theatre, but to write witty. provocative, moving, intelligent dialogue within the structure and constraints of television, especially network television, requires tremendous talent.

I love it when I come across a gem of a show on television. I then keep my fingers crossed that the powers that be don't cancel it because it's too witty, provacative, moving and intelligent. (sigh)