Amazingly enough, I think that books and TV are compatible. If you were to ask my wife she would nod and agree as well, as she reads through most TV and enjoys the ambience. There are some fantastic TV shows out there that not only inspire, but they are also written not unlike a novel.
Generally a movie has to take a book and cut out every second page, in anything longer than a short story they often just take the title page. In this manner, they can squeeze all the wonder and joy of a novel into 90 minutes of unrelated drivel. TV doesn’t run for 90 minutes, it has much longer to develop characters, story arcs, plot, and in-jokes that you wonder about enough to read the director’s blog to understand what the hell is going on. As a result TV and the novel can have a lot in common.
I say that TV can have a lot in common with a novel, not that it always does, as that would be assuming that a novel writer could get away with a procedural crime drama that is always solved by identifying semen left at the crime scene. So the shows that do actually rise to great heights tend to be few and far between, or they get cancelled by a network executive who realises that the show may actually be interesting – yes Fox, I’m still pissed about Firefly!
So what are the good TV shows I’m talking about? Well, let’s go with a list, shall we?
Read the short story that Justified is based upon here.
Now I could go on and add other shows I like (Leverage, Firefly, Daria, Family Guy, The Simpsons before they sucked) but this really is enough to illustrate my point. Oz was an amazing show with such a diverse range of characters. Justified is so good that Elmore Leonard not only approved it but came on board to write some episodes. Deadwood was so good the censors felt obliged to leave in the occasional curse word used. The Wire attracted some of the best crime writers to the production team because they saw the depth and intricacy this show had.
So the entire point of this blog post may have been an excuse for me to write something other than my novel while I grab the next episode of Justified, but that doesn’t mean that quality TV and quality novels don’t have a lot in common – bloody good writers who don’t get paid nearly enough. I’ll leave you with two links to an interview with David Simon, the creator of The Wire. Fascinating stuff!