Saturday, May 17, 2014

Classic TV

There wasn't much of interest on TV, so we watched a DVD of Columbo which I borrowed from the library.  This was Season 6 of Columbo.  After we watched it for a while, I became fascinated with the details of the production.  I went to good old Google and found that this episode was filmed in 1976!  In one scene, the murderer rigs an alibi by recording a ball game that was on TV; he used a very large VCR; later, Columbo asks him about this new fangled machine, and its cost - $3000!  .Besides the fact that everyone was smoking and drinking, and the clothing and hair styles were so indicative of the period, I noticed the staging.  It was more like a stage play than the TV series on in 2014.  I don't know anything about filming and editing or about video cameras, but the long passages of dialogue at the same camera angle, the lack of closeups and very little cuts from shot to shot, were noticeable even to me. I always enjoyed Columbo, but this time around I noticed how unsophisticated the story was... how blatantly the murderer revealed himself to Columbo.

I thought about today's TV series.  I dislike most of them - have never watched them, but the previews and ads turned me off.  So I thought about the two shows I have been watching for a number of years:  Law & Order SVU  and NCIS

Look at the sophistication of the camera work just in these two shots.

  Then, I turned to photos from NCIS:

It's the technology which has advanced so far in almost 40 years since that Columbo episode, but also the expertise of the directors and editors.   Here's a behind the scenes shot of an NCIS scene being filmed on location:

One look at that portable equipment and I really see why the shows look so different.

I still enjoy Columbo, and not just as a period piece.  I miss his humor; most of the time today's police/detective shows and just so dead serious.  No pun intended!

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