Six Feet Under
After watching the finale tonight, it really says a lot for the future of the media. I can't remember the last movie that had even anywhere near the same emotional impact as the finale (nor the past 2 or 3 episodes.) It's just the power of Television. Everyone makes a big deal about "It's because they have 42 hours as opposed to 1 and a 1/2," which is valid, but, I think there's more to it. First, it's piped into your home. These people are a part of your life, and 'live' in your house. That of course is amplified by the regularity of the shows. Secondly, and maybe more importantly and less obviously, the stakes on TV manage to be much higher and much lower, creatively. They don't have the massive theatrical release movie advertising budgets to accomodate for, especially on HBO or to an extent on the cable channels. They are expected to make back their budgets through either ad revenue, or 'subscriber loyalty' in HBO's case, but, with the lucrative DVD market, it's becoming less and less of a concern to the networks to make 'money-makers' in the short term, and more valuable to them to make money in the long run. Just wait till the Lost DVD's come out, and you'll see just how much money there is to be made in the TV on DVD market. The other benefit that a show like Six Feet Under has is the idea that it's a limited series. Alan Ball and Co. knew that the show wasn't going to go on forever, so it made the cast a bit more disposable. Things were never set in stone, and no one was ever safe. The biggest challenge facing most network shows is that they want to go on forever, or at least till the 100 Episode mark for syndication, so, they fall back on formulaic plots with no real stakes.
That's why a show like Law & Order has been on for what... fifteen years now? It's a decent show, even having moments of excellence back in the early seasons. The cast 'revolved' pretty much from day one, which to its credit meant that the loss of actors here and there had little to no effect on the overall feel of the show. But, to it's detriment, the show ends up feeling like there's a plexi-glass screen between the viewer and the characters. There is no connection, in part due to The Orbach's dry delivery, but, again, in part because there's no sense of change, no sense of meaning. Shit, even within just about every episode, months pass between the cop part and the court part, and yet, there's no feeling of change. Orbach sits on the stand as though the crime was done yesterday. I don't know. It just doesn't jive with me.
And then there's Six Feet Under. No matter how ridiculous the twist, no matter how over-stated or under-stated the emotion, it still manages to grab you, and twist the knife just enough to make you cry, and still want to come back for more.
The show will be greatly missed.