In the shadow of giants

Television is now overshadowing movies in popular entertainment

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In a nation where movies are often heralded as the epitome of visual entertainment, it is interesting that television shows seem to be receiving all the buzz as of late.

The power of modern television really began when movie stars began working on TV. The series “24,” starring Kiefer Sutherland, was the first program to feature an actor known primarily for his film work. Premiering in 2001, “24” set a new standard for television drama. Aside from its plot device in which each moment occurred in real time, the show broke the mold in a number of ways.

The trend has gained momentum ever since.

Today, the appearance of movie stars on the small screen is so ubiquitous that it has become par for the course. Some of TV’s most popular shows feature big screen actors: “The Blacklist” (James Spader), “True Detective” (Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson), “The Following” (Kevin Bacon), “House of Lies” (Don Cheadle) and “State of Affairs” (Katherine Heigel), to name just a few.

Not only do viewers like seeing big stars on the small screen, the actors like it as well, largely because it is a steady job that allows them the time to build their character, something that a two or three hour movie doesn’t allow.

However, all these actors bring with them a star power that television stars just don’t possess. Although viewers enjoy seeing popular movie stars on their TV every week, other shows tend to suffer as a result — shows that might actually be as good, or possibly better than, the star-driven shows.

Some programs do not suffer from this problem, such as “The Walking Dead,” which is a strong series comprised of mostly unknown actors — at least on American movie screens. But most of these shows comprise a slew of entertainment on the long assembly line of programs routinely considered interchangeable.

Obviously, this trend will not stop, but the only reason other programs suffer low ratings may be lack of interest in a show that might not carry star power with it. Perhaps viewers should not limit their viewing solely to programs that have big stars, otherwise, they might be missing out on something great. After all, many famous actors started out somewhere, several of them on TV.

There are many great writers out there who create programs that suffer for a number of reasons, regardless of their quality. One example is 2002’s “Firefly,” an arguably original and genre-bending sci-fi show that has built up a huge following despite its cancellation after only one season. Its popularity even allowed the series creator, Joss Whedon, to make a movie based on the defunct show.

There are a lot of great programs out there that may disappear as fast as they arrived because the great shadow of giants like “The Blacklist” may obscure them completely. As long as viewers keep their minds open and give other shows the chance to thrive, some real gems may be uncovered in the process.

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