Television were a cult Punk Rock/New Wave band from New York City, active between 1973-1978, 1992-1993 and since 2001. Its core lineup included guitarist/vocalist Tom Verlaine, guitarist/vocalist Richard Lloyd, bassist/vocalist Fred Smith and drummer Billy Ficca. Early on, their line-up also included bassist Richard Hell, who would go on to front the Voidoids, another influential punk group.
Lloyd left the band in 2007, and Jimmy Rip became his temporary, then permanent replacement. Verlaine died of an unspecified illness in 2023.
The band were famous for being more technically proficient than the punk scene they were associated with, with their Signature Style involving complex, interlocking guitars (influenced by Velvet Underground, Love, Buffalo Springfield, and the New York Dolls) and extended Improvs and jamming.
- Album Title Drop: "Marquee Moon".
- City Noir: The setting of most of Verlaine's lyrics. "Broadway looks so medieval", to quote "Venus."
- Cover Version: The band's live repertoire included The 13th Floor Elevators' "Fire Engine", Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", and The Rolling Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction".
- Epic Rocking: In the studio: "Marquee Moon" (10:47), "Torn Curtain" (7:10), "The Fire" (5:57), "The Dream's Dream" (6:45), "Little Johnny Jewel" (7:09), the instrumental demo of "Ain't That Nothin'" (9:48). In concert, any track could become this due to the band's penchant for jamming. As but one example, The Blow-Up has a 6:13 "Ain't That Nothin'", a 7:50 "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", a 14:56 "Little Johnny Jewel", a 14:45 "Marquee Moon", and a 7:18 "Satisfaction".
- Gratuitous Panning: Their records had Lloyd's guitar panned to one channel and Verlaine's to the other, though subverted in that it wasn't really gratuitous - it made it much easier to sort through the complex guitar interplay.
- Lead Singer Plays Lead Guitar: Verlaine was the lead singer and shared lead guitar duties with Lloyd.
- Lighter and Softer: Adventure has a more melodic sound compared to the first album, not that their sound was particularly hard to begin with.
- Loudness War: Averted or downplayed at worst, even on the remasters of their music - the 2003 Rhino Records remasters of Marquee Moon and Adventure, probably the most widely available versions these days, come out to DR9 and DR10, respectively, with no tracks on either scoring below DR8. The original CDs were still slightly more dynamic (DR13 for Marquee Moon and DR12 for Adventure). A 2015 HDTracks release of Marquee Moon splits the difference and comes out to DR11. The closest thing to an offender in the band's discography is a 2006 Japanese remaster of Marquee Moon, which is still not very bad at DR8 overall, with no track scoring below DR7. The Self-Titled Album, meanwhile, is the most dynamic release in the band's discography at DR14.
- Meaningful Name/Red Oni, Blue Oni: According to one story, youngsters Thomas Miller and Richard Meyers ran away from a boarding school and set fire to a field. When questioned by the cops, Miller (who would later rename himself Verlaine after the 19th century French poet) said he just wanted to feel warm; Meyers (who would later rename himself Hell, after the poem A Season in Hell, by the poet Arthur Rimbaud, whom of which was Verlaine's lover) said he just wanted to see it burn.
- Non-Indicative Name: They were a band, having nothing to do with TV at all.
- Perishing Alt-Rock Voice: Verlaine.
- Progressive Rock: Despite being associated with the punk scene, they were ironically much closer to this, with often lengthy and complex compositions that took heavy influence from jazz and featured complicated counter-melodies as a Signature Style. If it wasn't for their ties to Richard Hell, they would have never had any connection to punk, at least in the studio. Their live material, which tends to be a lot more energetic, is still something of a crossover between punk and this, with perhaps a bit of jam bands à la Grateful Dead thrown in.
- Re-Cut: On the original LP release of Marquee Moon, the title track, right in the middle of the album, had to be significantly edited to fit on the disc. For the CD re-release, the song was restored to its full length.
- Self-Titled Album: Their 1992 reunion album.
- Shout-Out: The "F-R-I-C-T-I-O-N" in "Friction" is a Shout-Out to Them's "Gloria." Verlaine dated Patti Smith, who did a famous cover of the song.
- Technician Versus Performer: Richard Lloyd (technician) vs. Tom Verlaine (performer). Lloyd's guitar solos tend to be more legato, melodic, and complex (i.e., "See No Evil", "Elevation", the short solo in "Marquee Moon"), while Verlaine's guitar solos tend to be more jagged, noisy, and unpredictable (i.e., "Friction", the long solo in "Marquee Moon").
- Three Chords and the Truth: Completely averted, despite Television's frequent categorisation as a Punk Rock band (this may be because they played it when it was still an Unbuilt Trope). While some of the band's songs have standard verse/chorus/verse structures, they still manage to be more complicated than your average punk song, and some leave all semblance of normal structure behind entirely and take off into the stratosphere (good examples of this being "Marquee Moon" and "Little Johnny Jewel").
- Title Drop:
- Every song on Marquee Moon drops their title at some point.
- Verlaine stealth-drops the band's name in at least two songs - "Elevation" ("'Elevision, don't go to my head") and "Little Johnny Jewel" ("He just had to tell-a-vision")
- Title Track: Marquee Moon has one. One was recorded for Adventure, but it was left off the initial releases of the album and wasn't released until the 2003 Rhino remaster. This is an Averted Trope on the band's Self-Titled Album.
- Trope Codifier: Along with The Velvet Underground, for many an Alternative Rock band. Similarly, Richard Hell often counts as the Trope Codifier for Punk Rock.
- Unbuilt Trope: For a band that's considered one of the very first punk bands, they don't sound very punky at all with the complex songs full of jams. If they had more keyboards, they probably would have been classified as a Progressive Rock band.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell were this for a long time...
- We Used to Be Friends: ...Until their personal and professional relationship fell apart. Factors included Verlaine gradually taking creative control of the band and Hell's heroin use.