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Is USA tv far superior to BRITISH tv?????

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In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2012 20:45:25 BDT
Toxic Excess says:
Yes, UK audiences are far more critical. To put it bluntly, Americans (of which I am one) are far too overworked to have those glissades of sensitivity to something we regard as an appliance (TV) to care overly what happens as long as it entertains us in our very few spare minutes or hours of leisure. You must keep in mind that the vast majority of Americans only have two weeks of (non-contiguous) vacation a year and live by the clock in a way that I think you can't comprehend. We have very little leisure time. The rewards (swimming pools, etc.) may be great, but our schedules are brutal!

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2012 20:54:46 BDT
Toxic Excess says:
I agree... Monty Python, to my mind, is unexcelled, but American comedy in the end is supreme. We may not be the masters of irony, but (paradoxically) we've become the masters of absurdity. "NewsRadio" is just hysterical, even to my British and Australian friends. Somehow it became a cult fascination

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Jun 2012 23:53:14 BDT
Toxic Excess says:
Also, the best musicians are the Brits... It's completely incomparable to population. The culture breeds talent - and good judgement - in a way that nothing has done since the ancient Greeks. It's mysterious, but there we are!

Posted on 4 Jun 2012 00:10:00 BDT
Jan says:
English comedy is far better than any American produced series. Amircans just throw in 200 jokes a minute and they hope you get to laugh about one. English drama/cops/thriller or other productions are better too. They are more intelligent and much better acting. Sorry to say but the series mentioned in the first post are all a bit far fetched, unrealistic and in the end all the same. No way USA tv is better than British TV.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 02:24:42 BDT
Rsrchr says:
quoting ToxicExcess, "Almost 20% of any broadcast here on commercial TV is advertising":

"Hour"-long programs are now down to 41 out of 60 minutes of actual program in the US, which is just over 68% of time on programming, or just under 32% of time in adverts. This is a THIRD of the time!

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 18:35:16 BDT
Which means that during an episode of The Sopranos (they're usually an hour long), you'd have half an hour of ads... that's kind of a discouraging thought (though I suppose at least it gives you a bit of a break from the intensity of it).

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 21:44:18 BDT
jayd says:
Jan, Yes. The better comedies are better or to put it a better way. I like the great ones better then I do our own home grown. However, you're a bit unfair with your critique as I doubt you've been exposed to all we've done on our side of the water. It may not be to your taste of course. But the really good ones do not throw in 200 gags and hope one is funny. Tim Conway and the late great Charlie Callas are only two that come to mind. Alan King was another. The old Bob Newhart show was very funny and clever too. Julia Duffy was a scream in Wizards and Warriors. Now you may like or relate to what their routines were, but that doesn't mean they aren't the equal to anything you folks have produced. There are shows that have been done in the UK that I may favor and will agree are far better. Yes Minister and Prime Minister come to mind and there are others to be sure. What a shame we haven't done a show like that. Same with Faulty Towers. So I'm not one sided on the subject. But I have had a lifetime (at age 75) to have seen quite a bit that both countries have to offer. I also think a lot depends on what ppl become used to and anyway much is subjective. I can't speak about current dramas or thrillers, but I haven't seen anything to match House of Cards which was so brilliantly done by you folks. I have no idea exactly what show or shows you saw that had 200 bad jokes. Is it possible you missed something or maybe the culture difference. Some things just aren't funny to one people where they might be to another.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 21:49:16 BDT
jayd says:
Also, the best musicians are the Brits.
Really? Been a long time since I worked in the field but I'd be interested to know what you base that on. I always thought there were good and bad everywhere.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Jun 2012 23:03:31 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jun 2012 23:09:18 BDT
Rsrchr says:
jayd, "Jan, Yes. The better comedies are better or to put it a better way. I like the great ones better then I do our own home grown. However, you're a bit unfair with your critique as I doubt you've been exposed to all we've done on our side of the water. It may not be to your taste of course. But the really good ones do not throw in 200 gags and hope one is funny."

I am not the person whom you are addressing; however, as a person who grew up in the USA, I *have* been exposed to the best and worst the USA has to offer.

This entire discussion is down to taste, on all sides.

But I will take a stab at what I believe the poster whom you are addressing may have had in mind.

There is a marked difference in attitude and approach between the two countries, and a very different process of how projects get the green light; how casting is done; who is in charge and has ultimate control over decisions ranging from show format to what issues and language survive the creators' vision without getting censored out of a show; how the writing is done and what its goals are; and the structure for which writers write which episodes for which series, in addition to the more immediately visible issue of budget.

Often in UK television, since the writers have greater control over their own shows, there is a greater consistency of dialog and style than generally in the US system where the creator usually does not have as great a control over their own show (and in the UK, many of the creator/s of a show are its writer/s whereas that is far less common in the US system) and where there are so many shows per season that a number of writers are utilized for each season and sets of writers are *changed* off of a program once it has gotten successful [and moved to other projects to help make *them* successful], that the tone and often character of a show shift from season to season as well as among episodes over a season. Very few shows are anywhere near as good by their last seasons as they were in their first. I find this more apparent in US shows than UK, but that, too, is down to opinion.

Part of the process in place in the US industry incorporates an approval process presided over by marketing experts and is geared toward maximum approval of characters, show themes, dialog, and jokes among their target demographic (selected because of their perceived ability to spend the most money for the advertisers and buy their products)

Often, this system can result in shows that appear to just throw a bunch of jokes at an episode and see what sticks, and with a general preference to wrap up all the problems by the end of each episode (although there are some counterexamples to this, in part thanks to higher-integrity productions made by non-network broadcasters).

Even the quality productions tend to throw jokes at a show and see what sticks, even if a greater percentage of the jokes are good.

One of the things I like about the "Golden Age of Television" in the US is that, while the comparatively few shows I have been able to see from that era were quite influenced by the advertisers, there seems to have been a high quality and to some extent the comedy writers were given somewhat greater freedom. Perhaps the fact that many were broadcast live helped create a more dynamic "product" (I wish US shows were not viewed by the industry as "product") I was gatewayed to some of the older shows through having watched the Carol Burnett show as a child, and through an avid hunger to know the real stories and shows hinted at in "My Favorite Year," and having heard Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks on my parents' albums.

The UK system has its own inconsistencies, as well; the tone of different shows I feel is more varied precisely *because* the creators of a show are often its writers and allowed greater creative control over its content. People who do not connect with a UK show are probably statistically more likely to not have a single laugh out of a comedy, for example, because there is not the kind of marketing influence the US uses to make sure that jokes are more palatable to a greater number of people. (For some examples, I have disliked every single Sacha Baron Cohen production I have been exposed to, although I have found is acting surprisingly good when he is not doing his shtick)

I also find it fascinating the differences in tone and humour that are appreciated and present in different shows in the US *and* UK. For me, frequently UK tv has a type of "discomfort" that in me produces anxiety but seems to actually provide a *release* of anxiety for the people who like those particular shows.

Posted on 5 Jun 2012 01:19:18 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jun 2012 01:29:16 BDT
Ana says:
I much prefer Brit tv. While all countries produce much that does not appeal to me, I find the Brits when they are on top of their game to be able to combine excellence of script, production, direction, casting etc in order to develop a stunningly real product. Even when the subject matter is fantasy or cerebral, it doesn't ever have the smug cloyingness that American shows have. Imagine what a US producter would have done to Poliakoff's tv dramas, or shiver in horror at the thought of Life on Mars in US hands, trying to explain away the necessarily inexplicable. I remember reading dozens of online posts from Americans after they saw Peter Bowker's brilliant 6 parter, Blackpool, back in 2004/5, unable to decide if they liked it or not because they were so thrown off balance by the characters' propensity for breaking out into song and dance routines. And when the detective turned out to be morally as flawed as everyone else in the drama - oh woe! That can't be right! [If only they had grown up watching Dennis Potter or Steptoe and Son.] Lastly, irony is NOT something that American writers or actors can manage to bring off convincingly, much less realism, I don't care what anyone says! It does not require guns and gangstas for a script to be real.

As for Hollywood making all the great films, don't make me laugh. That there is money thrown at the industry I do not doubt, but that cannot and never has guaranteed quality.The fact is that a US audience never gets to see much of the output of other movie-making countries so has no way of judging what is good and not good. After over 45 years exposure to what comes out of Hollywood, I'd rather watch a good British, Australian, French or Italian film.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2012 16:33:53 BDT
jayd says:
Very well said Toxic E.
I'm an American living in the UK. Thought you might be interested in this bit of madness. Take a look.
Don't talk garbage!...or why American words are mangling our English
By Christopher Stevens

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2012 16:48:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jun 2012 10:44:29 BDT
jayd says:
Criminal behaviour in the UK is limited with the lack of guns and true momentary thought of imminent death.

Well Toxic, all I can say is, don't you believe it. I live here. And what they aren't doing with guns (and many ovem are) they are doing with knives, ax and lead pipe. Then there's just the ordinary run of the mill beating to death. And of course lets not forget the Asian (Pakistani) gangs who've been targeting very young white girls for prostitution and rape. It's been in all the papers and cops have broken up two seperate gangs. So far. Granted the numbers might be smaller due to population number but it is far from the comparison you make re. milquetoast.
Not picking an argument here, just want to let you know how things really are. And punishment? Oh,hahahah lol. Punishment?
A gang of black muslim girls (4) were rather high and so when they saw this fellow and his girl waiting at a taxi stand for a ride, they decided it would be fun to beat the crap out of the girl at least. They managed to keep the boyfriend occupied while they tore at her hair and she did end up in hosp. When it came to court, the idiot judge let them off because.
His decision was that since they were muslims they were not used to being drunk and so they acted out of character.
You couldn't make that up. There isn't any real fear here because there is less real retribution for wrong doing. And everybody who does wrong has some new age disease newly discovered by their defense team. They really think what they stupidly call "naming and shaming" is workable among a class of criminals who feel proud, not shame for their actions. And then there's squatters but that's another story.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2012 17:16:54 BDT
Last edited by the author on 7 Jun 2012 10:46:31 BDT
jayd says:
It's been years and years since I worked and so things will have changed a lot in Country. But in my time frame, there was certainly individuality among the Country entertainers. Sure there were some copy cats but they didn't get very far. One of our problems in Country was (and they won) the push by the CMA (Country Music Assoc,NAshville, of which I'm a lifetime member) to have Country cross over into pop. I never did so although from time to time I HAD to play a Ronnie Milsop (ok, Milsap) song. As some younger ppl started to listen to Country radio, they simply assumed that if a country station aired something, it was indeed country. Of course that's crap.
But it worked and the fight was on as to what was and wasn't country.
Glen Cambell put it well in an interview and it shows how things are in Country radio. He said when asked about being a country singer.
"I'm not strictly a country singer. I'm a country boy who can sing."
The CMA wanted to take things upmarket. And they sure did. One of the results was some stations claiming that some artists (Moe Bandy one example) were "too country" for a country station. Rubbish.
Re. Guitar pickers. Yes to the two you name but the late Jerry Reed was a master and awesome and one of those not associated with great picking cos his thing of course was more singing, writing etc. and great parodies. "Scruffy" performers. I'm with you on that. Far too many in Show Biz over the years, paid much attention to the word SHOW, in Show Business. I always thought performers and especially in concert and those making more then the members of their audience, should at least dress the part. But no. Slob plus seems to be the order of the day.
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Posted on 5 Jun 2012 20:18:45 BDT
Last edited by the author on 5 Jun 2012 20:34:26 BDT
Lysander says:
hi, I'm from germany and I like to tell, how much I love british tv!! In my wiew it is the best in the world. The writing is fantastic and the actors are absolutely brilliant. Via amazon I get a lot of british tv productions on dvd. Ok, the american tv series are getting better the last few years, but if you look closer - what do they do? They have more and more british actors in the leading rolls :-)) That speaks its own language, dosn't it?

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2012 21:33:44 BDT
Right, Jayd. In fact I'd forgotten about Jerry. I almost confused
him with Jerry Smith, who wrote "Down at Papa Joes" and the
instrumental "Truck Stop", recorded by, among others the organist
Lenny Dee, who recorded many things in Nashville. As I said, I didn't
play much country, so many of the vocals sound as though they had
the same backgrounds and approach, with scrawny strings, and chorus
backgrounds, "ooo" "waa" and the like. Pointless ! Anne Murray for
instance had some of the most drab backings of any singer. Add an
overdose of echo and there you were. The late Hank Garland was a
great guitarist who began in country, and shifted more to the jazz
side of the fence, with excellent results.

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jun 2012 22:04:43 BDT
Agree totally, Ana. I'm an American, and enjoy British and foreign
films more than ever. Ever since I purchased a DVD player capable
of playing PAL system discs along with USA product, a whole new
world has opened up. Now I can see things from most of the world
and see also the more mature approach toward sexual matters and
other content rather than a juvenile, leering attitude.

Posted on 6 Jun 2012 09:33:55 BDT
UK's Tv Is much better we have Horrible Histories and a Idiot abroad for example two great new comedies. We have old things Blackadder and Carry on movies too

Posted on 6 Jun 2012 17:38:29 BDT
Mr W says:
Hi to all on here. I stumbled upon this topic by accident and I've not read all of it but it makes for interesting reading. I would honestly say , as a Brit, that the US makes some of the best tv series available. In the UK now our 5 main channels produce little of their own programming except for old fashioned drama one offs on the BBC , which is not my cup of tea,. The rest is just an endless cycle of repeats (re-runs) of old sitcoms like allo allo, one foot in the grave, keeping up appearances etc. while these were good shows originally we've been sickened to death with them constantly being shown. the rest of the schedule is generally filled with trash reality tv, and crappy soaps like eastenders and coronation st.
Our channel 3 is (itv1) is now imo the worst tv channel of the lot, its just a constant outlet for Simon Cowell to inflate his bigger-than-the-world ego even more with crap like britains got talent, the x factor and so on, which I cant stand so never watch. and from a recent USA holiday , you guys over there have the same problem with these shows on fox and nbc.
Most of my favorite shows are American , I have them on dvd , so no commercials, but theres numerous gems off all genres , drama, sitcoms . mainly from the 70s/80s/90s i will list some that spring to mind.
drama.- nothing beats US detective shows imo.
The rockford files,
murder one,
the sopranos,
the x files,
Prison break,
sci fi - Star trek DS9
The office USA - miles better than Gervais' version IMO.,
My name is earl,
Married with Children - 11 seasons of risque humour , hillarious to watch.
Seinfeld, sadly not shown over here anymore but a great watch.
Curb your enthusiasm, my favorite comedy of recent years , hilarious.
Oh and I nearly forgot my all time favourite show, The Equalizer with Edward woodward, its hard to believe in this era of Simon cowell dictated TV channels that this was shown on ITV in the 80s,like many others , how times change! had it been today it would never be shown on ITV as they pander to the lowest common denominator ie soap obsessed chavs and limited intellect trailer trash , and any top us imports get shown on channel 4 or 5 lesserly BBC, until they get hijacked by Murdochs SKY tv, which I wont subscribe to.

Posted on 12 Jun 2012 10:40:47 BDT
Britain has made a lot of very well known and loved TV series and Film series, but America is a much bigger place with more people, resources and money so I think they have a huge advantage over us but I love both nations' TV :D

Posted on 12 Jun 2012 17:44:20 BDT
I am a Brit. Five to Ten years ago I think I would have said British TV was better but now I am feeling like tv from both countries has become rather watered down with less gems. A lot of the programmes that I have loved get axed rather prematurely. I think the USA is producing better comedy at the moment but that maybe because I dislike a lot of the current british comedy which is rather male, juvenile and cringe worthy. I also have a huge dislike of reality TV. I find my self rewatching old tv due to lack of new options. I think in the UK we produce better documentaries. I agree that the USA has more population, money and resources and so probably weed out the rubbish before it gets sold on to other countries but having said that in this modern age I often see American shows that don't make the main UK channels and love them and wonder why they aren't on tv here rather than another dull reality tv series. So overall both countries produce their brilliant and dreadful shows and everyone has different tastes and different levels of tolerance for not so good tv.

Posted on 12 Jun 2012 20:44:51 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Jun 2012 20:52:26 BDT
I. Young says:
With some exceptions (West Wing or Frasier for eg), great US drama and comedy comes from the cable companies like HBO, Showtime and AMC which have grown to cater for a more discerning audience which the networks were not catering for. The UK's more public service orientated model meant there was room for experimentation.
Sadly the golden age of ITV and Channel 4 are over and are looking like the worst of US network TV.
Although the best TV drama I've seen this year is Borgen from Denmark.
US TV documentary and current affairs still leave a lot to be desired.

Posted on 12 Jun 2012 22:05:06 BDT
Balestra says:
British telly is better, because we have a sense of humour and the BBC.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2012 13:27:52 BDT
jayd says:
And that supposes nobody else has a sense of humor? lol.

In reply to an earlier post on 15 Jun 2012 14:27:38 BDT
Sou'Wester says:
It's just as well we have a sense of humour; how else could we put up with the wretched BBC!

Posted on 16 Jun 2012 16:35:26 BDT
CF says:
Perhaps a word from a german:
My favourite tv-comedy-series are from Britain. No doubt about that. Every single american tv-comedy lost its attraction after looking it the first time. And in my opinion there is no exception. Not even TAHM.
Don't be so reluctant. The best comedies are from Britain (see my list: ). And I enjoy them not only just one time.
And I have to know that: because so-called german comedy is boooooooooring. ;-)
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