Originally Posted by dare2be
As far as TV show quality goes, for every quality show like some of the ones you mentioned, there are many more reality shows, or crime/medical/law drama-du-jour cluttering up the airwaves.
And in the past the meager channels we had were clogged to high heaven with dumb gameshows, boring-as-all-hell sitcoms, and dull-as-dishwater crime dramas (seriously, have you watched some of them? I challenge you to make it five minutes through the old 60s police shows.) And the quality shows were even more hard to come by. For every St. Elsewhere or All in the Family (which aren't all that great in retrospect, I'll take House over any of them) there were tons of Family Affair and My Three Sons, which watching now makes you want to stab your eyes out. I'm sorry, but the Munsters and Beverly Hillbillies were horrible then and they're still horrible now.
At least now there's enough good shows to keep an average person occupied, and with DVDs/DVRs, you don't have to wait until summer reruns to watch them if you missed them. We're also now getting more foreign shows, which were never available in decades past.
I also notice that you more or less fed into my point...most of the shows you mention as quality shows aren't even shown on broadcast TV to wide audiences. Generally, popularity and quality are like oil and water...they don't mix well.
Mad Men and Breaking Bad are on AMC. While not broadcast, it is on basic cable, which is accessed by a majority of TV viewers. And the networks have better shows now. Lost was broadcast TV. Sherlock is on PBS, and I'll stack that show up against almost anything.
And even if they aren't available to the masses, so what? You can access HBO and Showtime now and see those shows if you're looking for quality. That used to not be an option.
As far as TV goes, we're in a golden age compared to the crap that was broadcast back then. Not everything was better in the past, and this whole false nostalgia thing needs to end.
So, no, I don't think HD is a crutch. The quality of today's TV programming stacks up well against anything in the past.