Smart TV

In the early 80s a film production company founded in 1961 called Merchant Ivory Productions popularized Period Pieces. This company owned by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant made adaptations of novels and short stories by revered writers like Henry James and plots with stories about the Edwardian England era cool. These two men possibly didn’t have a clue when they made their first movie that they will be coining a new genre phrase. To this day and probably until the end of the cinematic era any period movie set on British history with lavish sets and disillusioned genteel characters who live tragic lives yet still pounder on the frivolous societal norms will always be called a “merchant-ivory film”.

For some of us who were born in the 80s and grew up in the 90s, Steven Spielberg would be a perfect example of someone we are familiar with who redefined a genre. Through his vision, suspense thrillers like JAWS became a cultural phenomenon. Just as recent as last year his latest installment of Indiana Jones ranked in millions at the box office and earned him a new allegiance of admirers especially from the young generation of film makers. Of late more and more writers and producers are redefining genres in television as well. In this generation, writers and filmmakers are bringing sexy intelligence back in an interesting way. It's no longer about the physical aesthetics these days it’s sexy and cool to be smart. After-all the richest man in the world is a "geek".

This are the 3 most innovative and genre defining cultural phenomenon tv shows that have stood out for me recently


                six feet under

When I first saw SIX FEET UNDER I really didn’t like it yet I couldn’t stop watching it. Of course by the end of it’s last season it was and still is one of my favourite shows of all time. We are all fascinated by death one way or another but most commonly we fear death. The show, created by Allan Ball, managed to make mortality less mystical. Each episode hurled death provocatively, one might add, on the viewers’ faces. The plot consciously reminding us that death is a certainty that we all live with. The show brilliantly evoked our consciousness to the fact that sometimes the lines between life and death can be blurred in such a way that the dead can seem to be having a more livelier existence that the physically living. Oh and let’s not forget the sex in the show, damn only OZ could compete with it when it came to that : ) . 3 golden Globes and 9 Emmy awards later the show that denoted the term dramedy ended its Season 5. I for one was not ready to let it Rest In Peace!! My consolation was that the shows lead actors went on to be on my other favourite shows, Rachel Griffith (Brenda) is now on Brothers & Sisters, Peter Krause ( Nate) is now on Dirty Sexy Money and Michael C. Hall ( David) is now the loveable serial killer Dexter
   desperate housewives
Like a thief in the night, another show swept in and blew us away; Desperate Housewives. At first the plot seemed a little too “perfect” and unrealistic. I refuse to believe that there is a place somewhere in the world not even in “perfect” America where you could find gorgeous skinny women all living in one street. Still, the show is a mega hit and has become a cultural phenomenon now. Everyone, even if they have never seen the show, has most likely head the name Desperate Housewives. I won’t say much about the show because I’m still peeved by Marc Cherry’s decision to keep it going till Season 9 which I think would be a mistake. Thanks to DH we now know the adorable Eva Longoria, Teri Hatcher can now pay her bills again and Nicollete Sheridan is the reigning sex kitten after dethroning Kim Catrall. DH is on my list because it has the best team in the business in terms of writting. The perfect blend of comedy, drama and tragedy than runs effortlessly through the plot every season is a testament to the brilliance of the show’s writers. It’s unique, witty, funny, engaging… I could go on forever. No wonder the awards panel always struggle to categorise it.


                Damages cast

Forget about Miranda Priestly, Wilheminah Slater or any of those tv and film superbitches, there is a new seductive duplicitous uber fabulous diva in a tv near you and she is smart, her name: Patty Hewes and she is on a show called DAMAGES. This has to be the most intelligent tv show of all time. Glenn Close, heading a stellar cast, as Patty is so captivating that sometimes the distinctions between her as an actor and the character Patty get obscured as I watch her. DAMAGES is a switch your phone off, put the kids to bed, make sure you’ve finished all your chores and focus kinda television show. You cannot, I mean can NOT, miss a second of this show people, literally. If you move and miss just one scene or one line in the episode you could loose the plot and it may take you a while to catch up. I love this show. The suspense in this show is mind-boggling. You never know who the hero or nemesis is and who's on who's side. Every episode, you are either more confused with the storyline or already anticipating the next episode because you can’t believe what you have just seen. Law has never this fun. The entangled story lines in the plot, brilliant acting, overflow of contradictions and the time jump to the future-present-past-future are all seething throughout this show so put your thinking cap on and go grab yourself a dvd of this series if you haven’t seen it

We’ve had dramas, we’ve had comedies and legal shows before but this above mentioned shows have redefined their respective genres. For that I say kudos to the creative minds behind these shows. Now I can only wish that Mzansi’s commission editors and producers could nurture the creative talent in this country by giving them opportunities and maybe, just maybe, we might produce shows of this calibre in future

There are other great informative shows, I cant mention them all, like Criminal Minds; who knew a dull job like criminal profiling could be so interesting and entertaining. And then there CSI, forensic investigation has never been this cool. 

PS: If you are interested in cinenatic history and are not familiar with Merchant Ivory films go rent out "A Room With A View". It's an awesome period piece.

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