Growing up in the 90s, before OnDemand and online streaming, there used to be something called the made-for-TV movie. Now, I know they still exist on channels like Hallmark and those Christmas movies that explode on the scene come November, but the ones I’m thinking of are the ones they used to show on network TV where it’d take you two or three Sundays to watch because it filled an 1-2 hour time slot. And perhaps they still do exist and they pop up every now and then on network television, but since I haven’t had cable for the past five years so I don’t know for sure.
They made some pretty epic movies.
I think many of them were more towards the PG-13-almost-rated-R category so most of the time my teenage-self wasn’t allowed to watch them, but I remember two prominent ones: The 10th Kingdom and La Bella Mafia (one of my favorite mafia movies actually and this is where I first met James Marsden. It’s amazing to see how his career went after this one).
These two movies still pulls on my mind every now and then. Just the other day, in fact, which is what made me pause and think about these types of movies.
To think you had an hour and a half to two hour time slot, had to keep the screenplay within that network boundaries, and then to appeal to a different kind of audience (I mean, I’m guessing because not everyone who watches television was a big fan of movies, right? Feel free to course-correct me here). But for someone who wasn’t old enough to make her own money and relied on family members to drop her off at the local theatre, I enjoyed this once-a-week treat. And those network people were smart. I mean, they ran it a span of three to four Sunday evenings (sometimes Saturday and Sunday) so they had me hooked at that two hour time slot for at least three to four Sundays! You can’t watch Part 3 when you completely missed Part 2. Nope. I made sure my Sunday evenings were free just so I could watch that next installment.
And while those Sunday evenings depended on family obligations–because, again, my teenage self so if my parents decided no TV that Sunday night, guess what? No TV and no Part 2–I kind of miss that type of TV. Now everything is so readily available. You can restart the movie, DVR it, or even find it on Netflix, or rent it on Amazon, it just doesn’t feel the same. And I know that things are much more convenient now, and I love that because I can keep up with all my favorite shows even if they share the same time slot on Thursday evenings, I miss the anticipation. I sort of miss the “Wait, Thursday night? Um, you know, I can’t because that’s when Diagnosis Murder is on.” Call it nostalgia or whatever, but I sometimes miss that extra “planning” it took to make sure you watched the next episode that week. And I know this will contradict what I just said earlier, but I kind of miss the “either or” choice. You know, where you needed to make a decision between two shows, therefore two networks, because they shared that same time slot on Friday night?
TV has come a long, long way and we’re still trying to figure out our way around it. With 300 something plus channels now, plus all the OnDemand shows and online streaming options, the face of television continues to evolve. With HBO thinking of online streaming, I’d say we’re into the next phase of things. Phase 3 maybe? I’m not sure, but it’s interesting to see where this whole online streaming thing will lead. Add to net neutrality (which is a whole other topic) into the mix and … well, let’s just say this 21st century is looking rather interesting.