Recently a succession of big budget T.V. shows such as Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Homeland have sought to threaten the dominance of movies in modern entertainment. In this article I will argue that movies are still preferable, and the five main reasons why.
The Cinema Experience
Whilst we all sometimes like to chill out at home in front of the T.V., it bears no comparison to the atmosphere and overall experience of the Cinema. To begin with the giant screen and deep, reverberating surround sound immerse you within the story in a way that a T.V. show never could. In addition there is the reaction of the audience; from the roar of laughter to screams of fright and sudden gasps of surprise. This sense of shared excitement and awe at a great movie makes going to the cinema an innately social experience.
There is a wealth of well-made and reasonably entertaining T.V. shows out there, but rarely is one produced that is controversial, thought provoking and unique. Usually they follow a similar format and, even with the recurrent twists and cliff hangers, are often quite predictable in their content. It is unlikely that you will ever see a T.V. show cause the international furor that Borat managed, or create controversy like the French film Irreversible. How often will you come across a twisted classic like Pulp Fiction, or an epic of the genius that is Once Upon a Time in America? Not to say there is no such example, but as a genre film clearly possesses an inherent artistic quality that T.V. shows do not.
One a Week
A frustrating aspect of a T.V. show is having to wait to find out what happens next. Some would argue that this adds to the suspense, and if the next episode were the following day then I would agree as the storyline is still fresh in the mind. Instead, a week later, the suspense has evaporated and the first 15 minutes of the show is simply a case of trying to recollect what happened the week before. In contrast a movie creates real, dramatic suspense. A well-made, intelligent movie like Inception will keep you on the edge of your seat, desperate to find out what happens next, without the anti-climax of being kept waiting for seven days. For those like me who prefer the uninterrupted thrill of a movie, having to constantly wait a week for the next chapter can easily result in a loss of interest.
Character Development vs. Excitement
One unavoidable advantage to a T.V. show is the greater wealth of content. One series may run for 24 hours so the storyline and the characters can be developed and engaged with in a way that is not possible in a 2-3 hour movie. Particularly in regards to adaptations of books, a T.V. series will stay far more true to the story, whereas movies often cut all but the most exciting parts. Game of Thrones for example sticks almost religiously to the book. There is a disadvantage to this though, as often after watching an hour long episode you are left disappointed as barely anything actually happened. In reality a series contains little more in the way of exciting and interesting moments than a film, they are simply dragged out over 24 hours rather than 3. Whilst this may allow a better development of the characters, it is certainly to the detriment of excitement, and can again be a catalyst for loss of interest.
Finally there is the simple problem of time. In order to follow a T.V. show it is necessary to invest a great deal of time watching it. One series may consist of 24 hours and there could be up to ten series. People nowadays lead busy lives and do not always have much time to relax. To commit to watching one T.V. show can limit the variety of entertainment you receive. You may have to limit yourself to one or two series at a time. In the same period it is possible to watch one film a week, but in 24 weeks you will have been able to view a much wider range of material. This surely adds to the entertainment experience, which of course is what it’s all about.