9 January 2013 4:31 PM, PST | SoundOnSight | See recent SoundOnSight news »

Over the last decade and a half, much has been made in critical circles about the “coming of age” of dramatic television programming. Since The Sopranos began to become a cultural touchstone, HBO has been a central part of that discussion, with some broadly suggesting that its most beloved dramas – particularly The Sopranos (1999-07), The Wire (2002-08), and Deadwood (2004-06) – began to outstrip the greatness of contemporary American film by bringing cinematic flair to projects with a necessarily much larger scope. While that contention is subjective, it does begin to suggest what separates these programs (as well as other revered non-pay-cable series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, WB/Upn 1997-03) from many of their contemporaries: with each series, to varying degrees, the influence of the series’ respective showrunners/creators is plainly evident. Buffy is consistently informed by Joss Whedon’s sense of pop-culture awareness and devotion to clear emotional stakes, »

- Simon Howell

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