Television The Daily Banter

MEMBERS ONLY: The Outstanding ‘Better Call Saul’ Debut is a Perfect Addition to the Golden Age of TV

Written by Bob Cesca

I was browsing Rotten Tomatoes the other day and noticed something fascinating. All of the TV shows with new episodes premiering on Sunday night were ranked pretty damn close to 100 percent. The only show lower than 80 percent was Downton Abbey, which, with a 79 percent, is still a monster in terms of both ratings and critical praise. On the other hand, I noticed that many of the new movies out right now have much more dismal scores. Only two movies in the Top 10 at the box office currently score higher than 80 percent.

Now, to be sure, this comparison isn't quite scientific, and it's true that we just suffered through Fuck You, It's January. ("Fuck You, It's January!" is Red Letter Media's name for the worst month of the year for movies. That said, this happened to have been one of the better Januarys in recent memory.) Nevertheless, the disparity in the Rotten Tomatoes scores points us in the direction of a rather obvious trend. Television, and especially hour-long dramatic television, has in many ways surpassed the quality of what's in theaters.

I'm not the first to coin this, but the following observation grows more true every year: we live in a golden age for television.

Yes, there's still an awful lot of crap that's both watched by millions or discarded (cough -- Backstrom -- cough). It's difficult to name all of the truly killer shows, comedies and dramas alike: House of Cards, The Walking Dead, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, True Detective, Orange is the New Black, Transparent, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Louie, Downton Abbey, Parks & Recreation, Fargo, Veep, Silicon Valley (best comedy on television), Homeland and Black Mirror, along with shows that just recently ended like The Colbert Report and Breaking Bad (quite possibly the best show in a generation).

There are many more that I didn't list, but Breaking Bad leads us to the point of all this. Better Call Saul, the prequel/sequel to Breaking Bad, aired its first episode this week on AMC and if the rest of its first two seasons are half as great as the first episode (it's been picked up for a second season already), this one might climb to the top of an already crowded roster of golden age shows.

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