The Golden Age of Television and Me

KinescopeThis weird experiment known as Human Echoes continues on, and one thing I’ve learned is that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.

I often find myself looking to some of the other creative umbrellas online and trying to figure out how they got their start, and I never come up with any answers.

I feel like this is due to the invisible graveyard effect, something that has plagued me my whole life. In almost all endeavors, failure never gets documented; nobody thinks to look at what didn’t work. There are very few stories that we tell as a culture that include all the drudgery and toil that leads up to a breakthrough, or the constant tweaking that brought us to where we are today.

We forget what it is like to be at the start of something.

Television is a great example.

In the early days of television it was a bit of a mad house. It seems like it would be a simple thing, all you’re trying to do is tell stories. But the amount of innovation involved was tremendous. Everything had to be reinvented. You weren’t selling tickets like with the movies, and it was more expensive than radio, so the financing had to be rethought. You wound up with companies like Kraft Foods sponsoring entire shows.

And since the sponsors had more clout than the networks, they would air their shows on whatever networks they wanted, often with more than one showing on more than one network.

Acting has been around since storytelling began, but people had to rework acting techniques to figure out new ways of emoting that would pop on the small screen, often lifting ideas from stage productions.

Radio was looked to for concepts as well. The notion of a serial program was useful because you could have a fixed list of actors and sets which would reduce costs for filming.

The cameras, audio, special effects, makeup, and a ton of other things, all of these had to be thought through from the ground up just to be able to give a rendition of Alice and Wonderland.

In the beginning it was just a lot of people throwing a lot of things out and seeing what worked.

It feels like that’s where we’re at right now with the presentation of fiction online.

Nobody really knows how things need to be, or can be, reworked when using the Internet to present written stories. Sure we know how to transmit books over wireless connections, but books are so last century. As far as allowing fiction to come into its own online I sometimes seems like we’ve gotten nowhere…The Writer’s Arena is the only place I know of where stories aren’t just transcribed onto a website.

Now I love The Writer’s Arena, but some part of me wonders if I’ll look back on it in a few years and see it as quaintly as I do the Kraft Television Theater’s presentation of Alice and Wonderland.


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