There are few quality dramas on television. With the over saturation of forensic/law enforcement glorification shows and various offshoots, many of these dramas tend to blend into one another. Big networks like ABC and NBC have high turnover rates that do not allow for their programs to develop, with some exceptions like Lost and Heroes. However, amongst this sea of regurgitation, two networks currently reign supreme in terms of decent programming; AMC and HBO. This article compares and contrasts the networks.
What makes this network so appealing is that all their programming is quality. Mad Men, which tells the story of advertising in New York, has won numerous awards and deservedly so. Breaking Bad, arguably the best among all the shows on AMC, juxtaposes the drug trade with law enforcement and paints a very human picture of both parties. While somewhat fantastical is some respects, this is AMC’s most quality show to date. The Walking Dead is about a zombie apocalypse. The story is one of struggle for life, the importance of children and conquering the desire to give up hope. The newest show, Hell on Wheels, involves the railroad industry and contrasts the poorest workers with the economic elite who benefit from their labors.
All shows on this network seem to follow a pattern. Symbolism plays a vital role. Often times, at least one of each season is extremely bare. This is demonstrated in the critically acclaimed and common man loathed episode of Breaking Bad entitled The Fly; 45 minutes about a subtle contaminant. I’ve noticed a tendency to lean on character development in all these shows, sometimes impeding the progress and drawing out what could be accomplished in three episodes to a whole season.
For my money, this is the best network on television for drama. There are very few flops. Shows are canceled not because of lack of quality but due to cost, as in the case of Rome, which told the story of Julius Caesar and his successors. Deadwood was my favorite series of all time. It was extremely vulgar, historically accurate (where it counted) and tastefully violent. The Wire was one of the most complicated stories ever to grace the television screen and is totted by fans an critics alike as the best show shoe ever. HBO has released copious other shows, all of which are quality and entertaining. Boardwalk Empire is the latest hit and follows similar in suit.
This network is more keen on telling the story rather than being so insistent on the individual roles of each character. Naturally, the characters develop, but not at the expense of the shows progress. I believe this is a much more effective way to keep the viewer involved and interested. Because of this, HBO reigns supreme as the best network. AMC could benefit from taking note on how to perfect television dramas.
Look forward to my future analysis of both AMC and HBO shows. I will soon be following this article with critiques of the current seasons of The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels and Boardwalk Empire.