Once a year or so for the past several years, usually around awards season, somebody somewhere writes a story about how TV has gotten so much better than the movies. This year's article on the state of TV versus the movies is over at Newsweek, and there's a lively debate going on over at Hollywood Elsewhere on the topic, with people trumpeting their favorite TV shows (The Wire, Lost, 24, Heroes, even, god help us, American Idol) over the offerings at the multiplex.

Now, I can see the value of a well-made television program. I've been addicted to Jack Bauer and 24 since episode one of season one, and I'm not even sure how I feel about seeing 24 up on the big screen. There's something about the intimacy of curling up on the couch each week with Jack, Chloe and the gang that would be lost in translation to the silver screen. And I know lots of folks, some of them living in my very own house, who can't make it through a week without checking in with Heroes or Grey's Anatomy, but that doesn't mean that those shows are better than the films I can see at one of the arthouse cinemas in town (although I might buy the argument that they're better than what's showing down the road at the multiplex).

When I look at my own top ten films for 2006, I see films like Children of Men, Pan's Labyrinth, Liittle Children and The Proposition, films which cry out for a big screen in a dark theater. Even The Lives of Others (which would have had a spot on my list if I'd seen it in time) uses the big screen to make you feel the weight of the Stasi oppression through its gloomy cinematography. TV storytelling may have gotten better over the past decade or so, with more focus on compelling stories, but I'm not sure you can even objectively compare the two media -- even the Newsweek article says, it's like "comparing apples to tubas" -- but then author Devin Gordon goes on to do just that, asserting that television is "running circles" around the movies.

So what do you think? Are your fave TV shows better than the movies Hollywood studios are churning out?

[ via Hollywood Elsewhere ]