“Our use of television now is different than in its first 50 or so years, because it’s saying to us now, ‘You do realize you’re alone in this world and that the sense of authority you had in the medium is not longer there. No one’s in charge. It’s not gonna be alright.'”
Hey! Anything good on TV? I know, right? Let’s listen to legendary film critic David Thomson as we celebrate his amazing new book, REMOTELY: Travels in the Binge of TV (Yale University Press)! David & I get into how TV has changed and how it’s changed us, the communal experience of going to the movies vs. sitting on the sofa, the ways his relationship with his wife deepened in front of the tube during lockdown (and why he gave her some of the best lines in Remotely), and the personal, political, & social implications of watching crap over a long period of time. We talk about falling into the stream of streaming, how advertising was the snake in American TV’s garden, BBC’s very strange exception for its licence fee, the courage in actually writing about what he’s watching (even though Remotely isn’t a critical guide), and what made Ozark special to him. We also discuss Clive James‘ transformation of TV criticism, the end of a golden age of TV, the importance of live sports events, the joy of seeing Barbie in a packed theater, how everything points to a world where no one is in charge, and a lot more. Give it a listen! And go read REMOTELY!
“I don’t think TV is affected by criticism. The thing about TV is: is it on or is it off?”
“Going to the movies was my first realization that I was living in a very crowded world.”
“While American entertainment is the fruit of money, and is out to make money, it does not treat the subject of money and how it changes us. Ozark does.”
“It’s a common experience that couples who’ve been together a long time learn to engage in a dialogue that can be sarcastic and teasing, but fond, and most importantly argumentative.”
About our Guest
David Thomson is a film critic, a historian, and the author of more than thirty books, including Disaster Mon Amour, Why Acting Matters, and The Biographical Dictionary of Film. He lives in San Francisco, CA. His new book is REMOTELY: Travels in the Binge of TV.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Zoom PodTrak P4. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of David by someone else. It’s on my instagram.