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Litchfield MN 55355

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Friday, September 25, 2015

The new golden age of television

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Many people say we’re in a new golden age of television.  While this era is characterized by darker adult themes instead of the chipper, family-friendly offerings of the original golden age of the ‘50s, the quality of the writing, acting, and production values are very high.  This new burst of creativity is partly due to the wide variety of ways television shows are distributed.  Beyond broadcast and cable, there’s Netflix, Amazon, other streaming services, web-based series, and DVDs.  Television shows can now appeal to just a segment of the population and still be successful, because there are so many outlets. 

Because people can often watch at a time they choose, people tend to treat TV series like novels now.  If you’re dying of suspense because of how an episode ends, you can keep going, if you’re watching on DVD or a streaming service.  We call it “binge-watching,” but is it really different than not being able to put a book down, chapter after chapter? 

Our library offers many television shows on DVD, something that is especially valued by our rural residents who can’t get cable, high-speed internet, or sometimes even a strong broadcast television signal.  Besides, subscribing to every available television service would be awfully expensive.

One TV miniseries available at our library is HBO’s Olive Kitteridge, which is based on Elizabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name.  The book is really a collection of related short stories about a small town in Maine, tied together by retired teacher Olive.  My book club at the library read this within the last couple of years and found plenty to talk about in this quietly profound book.

In the miniseries, Olive is played by Frances McDormand.  She just won the Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a limited series or movie.  Her co-stars Richard Jenkins and Bill Murray also won Emmys for lead actor and supporting actor, respectively, and the show won the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries, as well as the awards for directing and writing. 

The Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series went to HBO’s Game of Thrones. This fantasy series is based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire.  Peter Dinklage won the supporting actor Emmy for playing Tyrion Lannister, and the show won the awards for writing and directing, among many others.  Unfortunately, the season that just won the awards won’t be available on DVD until March!  The library does have seasons one through four.

The release date for season four of Veep on DVD has not even been announced yet. Our library does have seasons one through three.  The fourth season just won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, yet another win for HBO.  Julia Louis-Dreyfus won the lead actress Emmy for playing President Selina Meyer, Tony Hale won the supporting actor Emmy, and the show won the award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series.

Uzo Aduba won her second Emmy for playing Crazy Eyes on Orange is the New Black, a Netflix original series based on Piper Kerman’s memoir of the same name.  This time the series competed in the dramatic series category instead of comedy due to a change in Emmy rules.  The library has seasons one and two, but season three is not yet available on DVD.

The library also has the Emmy-winning TV movie Bessie and nonfiction series The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, as well as the documentary Citizenfour, which won an Emmy for Exceptional Merit in Documentary Filmmaking. 


As the sun starts going down a little earlier, bring home an interesting series or movie and enjoy the character development and complicated storylines that characterize the best of today’s television.