Can we really rate works of art the way we rate a meal? We all came from the mother ship where rating a movie or a TV episode sometimes minutes after it airs (Sometimes the reviews are from screeners and are up before the show airs) is the norm. Yet some of the most popular movies of all time were basically flops upon airing. It’s a Wonderful Life, Caddyshack, The Shawshank Redemption none of these movies did any business in the theaters but then became a Christmas staple, one of the top rated comedies of all time and perhaps the most re-watchable movie ever. Now this isn’t to say all things popular right away automatically stink. Somethings obviously fit that description – but one of my favorite movies of all time; Jaws, was both a huge, gigantic hit right off the bat and endures as a beloved classic. (Although the rubber shark is getting harder and harder to dismiss as CGI keeps getting better – but don’t you dare Lucas that sh*t Stephen!)
Based on this I’ve come to a conclusion, the quality of a movie and a TV Show- and lets stick to visual media– isn’t judged by its box office, or the awards it wins – but popularity over time. The punching bag for this kind of assertion is of course, Avatar. Extremely well reviewed (an 83 from Rotten Tomatoes) and still the second highest grossing movie of all time adjusted for inflation; yet eminently forgettable. I’m not saying it wasn’t important from a technical standpoint, but at heart it’s the same plot as Ferngully, A Man Called Horse, Dances with Wolves and a dozen other films – with worse acting and thinner characters. Then take a show like The Wire; it’s actually gotten more popular over time as HBO keeps it On Demand and more and more people are exposed to it. I’ve seen it on more “top TV shows of all time” lists in the last five years then right after it stopped airing. So, here are the questions Contras: first, what movie or TV show has grown on you over time and you now understand how good it is? And Second, what current stuff do you think is being overlooked in this “too many shows” environment that you think will break out over time?