July 24, 2005

"This American Life" -- the TV show.

I love "This American Life." Often, when it's on, I get in the car and go for an hour-long drive, just to enjoy the pleasures of radio. Isn't radio best in the car, merging the music or the words with the landscape?

But now, Ira Glass is working on making his radio show into a TV show. And why not? Everyone assumes TV is a step up from radio. And don't we bloggers all really think it's better to be on the radio and still better to be on TV? It shouldn't be, should it? But we can't help feeling that TV is the best place to be, where everyone sees you!

Hmmm... oh so that's what Ira Glass looks like. He's quite a bit handsomer than his nerdy voice makes him "look" on the radio. Most radio folk have beautiful, sonorous voices that make actually seeing them quite a letdown.

Ah... the article talks about the difference seeing things makes:
Both the stories featured in the pilot were also produced for the radio show. One is about a couple who cloned their prized bull; the other is about a good-natured prank that goes awry. In comparing the two formats, Mr. Glass discovered the effect of seeing people otherwise left to a listener's imagination. One man's face time in the television segment had to be cut down because he came off as much more insincere on screen than on the radio. The narrative, which had been so finely balanced on radio, was suddenly thrown off kilter.

"On the radio, you become the character," Mr. Glass explained. "But when you see someone on TV, you come to all sorts of conclusions about who they are, based on their hair and what they are wearing."


Meade said...

Ira Glass could be the long lost brother of the greatest rock & roller ever.

knox said...

I love TAL, but I don't know that I want to see it on TV. One of the things the radio show does so well is to completely immerse the listener in whatever world they're featuring. I don't see that translating so well on the screen. But if it's on, I'll no doubt watch it...!

Beth said...

I agree, knoxgirl. It's as though using the one sense creates a deep focus. With TV, there are so many visual signals that the story is dispersed. For those that will enjoy it, I wish the show success, so long as it doesn't mean losing my Sunday afternoon radio TAL.

Larry said...

If any reader would like to listen to "This American Life", go to http://www.thislife.org/

All the shows back to 1995 are there. It requires Real Player.


vbspurs said...

It's one of the few reasons I listen to NPR. And Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, obviously, albeit if I'm not driving in my car on Saturdays at 6 PM, I do tend to miss it. *sigh*


HaloJonesFan said...

Hey: Nixon-Kennedy debates. Perhaps the ultimate expression of radio versus TV.

chuck b. said...

So, have you watched this program?

We watched the first half of Season 1 on DVD the other night. I thought it was new, and the DVD says 2007, but you blogged about it way back in 2005, so what's up with that. (I knew I'd find something about it on your blog!)

Anyhow, I thought it was compelling television, not at all diminished by the change in format. Better in some ways even; some of these characters you really have to see to fully appreciate. That's often what I wonder when I listen to the program on the radio. "What do these people look like?"

Also, the producers made some fun aesthetic choices to help tell the story.

Ann Althouse said...

I tried to make myself watch it, because I loved the radio show too much, but I found it annoying on TV.