Worlds collide

Stumbling through the Canadian blogosphere today, I found this post by Maclean’s Jaime Weinman, responding to Rose’s post arguing that Classic TV is Bad TV. A trailer:

The TV drama era that started with Twin Peaks and culminated in The Sopranos really did bring a lot of viewers to TV, viewers who previously found TV too limited, corny, slapdash and beholden to advertisers. Even the greatest pre-Sopranos TV shows are obviously compromised, and you have to make allowances for that. (Homicide, for example, is obviously a more compromised show than The Wire – not to say that The Wire is necessarily better in an absolute sense, just that the bargains Homicide made with advertisers, network executives and ratings are right there on the screen for everyone to see.) Trying to argue for the classic status of an obviously compromised commercial product is not impossible, but it’s tricky.

On a completely unrelated note, I think I went to high school with Mr. Weinman.

Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.


  1. I hesitate (though never refuse) to use the word “absolutely,” but The Wire is superior to Homicide. In part for the reason he describes. But I don’t think that advertiser bargains are all of it. The other issue is that Homicide had to bargain with the audience itself. As a network show, it couldn’t get by with the smaller-yet-more-devoted following of The Wire.

    • Good points, though I don’t think Mr. Weinman was arguing for one over the other, he was just trying to set up the difficulties of arguing in favour of older shows.

      And I, too, think The Wire is stronger than Homicide (though I really enjoyed it when it came out).

      • Homicide was really strong at the outset. But as time progressed, they needed to bargain with the potential audience. “Okay, okay, fine, we’ll have a terrorist shoot up Police HQ.”

        • And we’ll replace Jon Polito and Ned Beatty with Hollywood-gorgeous women.

          It also didn’t help that Tom Fontana can’t write story arcs to save his life. The Luther Mahoney stuff was a complete mess.

          • One of my big things about cop shows is that the cops need to look like cops and not underwear models. This is particularly a problem for female cops. Melissa Leo looked the part, but Michael Michele did not (though compared to Kathryn Morris from Cold Case…)

  2. P.S. I just heard back from Jaime, and, yes indeedy, we went to high school together (not that anyone should really care).

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