My favorite show of the moment is a British delight called The Detectorists – now on Netflix. It is an amazing slice of life piece, with Pnin-like victories for simple and simply charming folks with the interesting and quirky hobby of metal detecting.
I recall Ricky Gervais making a statement several years ago about 2 or 3 years being the maximum life span of a good TV show. And that’s with the 8 or so episodes expected of a BBC show. Contrast that to the 7+ seasons most US shows squeeze out and consider the value. American TV is focused on franchise development and delivering the familiar (see Top 40 Music) ad nauseam. These BBC shows, however, leave you desperate for more.
So what’s better? Knowing your trite sitcom character so well that you can practically predict her monthly cycle as she pines for the elusive heartthrob, or diving into your imagination and wondering what the future holds for Lance.
Seeing how Ricky Gervais has brilliantly revitalized his David Brent character in the past year suggests that the entertainment industry doesn’t have to make the big cash grab all at once – iron hot or not – but then, where’s the artistic value in being patient?