Ten years ago, Nix might never have had the opportunity to create his own distinctive world, populated by a colorful assortment of sleuths and sleazeballs. TV was still a closed-off culture, largely presided over by network behemoths who rarely gave even the best writers — think David Chase or Matthew Weiner — the freedom to push the envelope until they'd spent years laboring in the salt mines.The Big Picture
Now it's a new ballgame. Cable TV is crammed with original series that are bursting at the seams with the kind of creative bravado that hasn't been seen in Hollywood since the early 1970s. If you're looking for great storytelling, the real action is on your TV set, not at the multiplex.
The origins of this trend can be traced to the decline of network television and its one-size-fits-all model. Once a dusty repository for old movies and second-run network shows, cable now has an insatiable desire for original programming. The splurge on new programming was inspired by increased competition from pay TV outlets like HBO — which had created a huge splash with "Sex and the City"and "The Sopranos"— as well as the loss of once reliable network reruns, whose value had plummeted. Unlike reruns or reality shows, original programming also generates additional revenue from DVD sales and Netflix licensing.
The hunger for fresh material also came at a time when Hollywood was increasingly obsessed with creating Big Event franchises, and abandoning the kind of sophisticated dramas and comedies that have hit pay dirt on cable. The rise of new media has also helped cable replicate the communal experience of moviegoing, with TV show devotees turning television viewing into a participatory experience, spending endless hours sharing their enthusiasm, outrage or puzzlement over various plot twists on blogs, Twitter feeds and elsewhere in cyberspace.