Matthew Dessem, for Slate, on why TV shows are so much darker these days:
The most important technologies that enabled low-light work were digital color correction and digital cameras, which made dark TV far easier to shoot.
But no show is darker than Game of Thrones. Franco explained that creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss feel strongly that the show should look as grim and gloomy as possible. Shooting that catacomb scene, Franco recalled, “I said, ‘How dark do you want to go?’ They said, ‘As dark as you can.’”
Wonderful as they are, low-lit shots don’t always translate to older televisions, according to Dessem:
Old televisions did a better job of rendering dark colors than modern ones. Detail that’s visible on an expensive television disappears on a cheap one, and suddenly Game of Thrones is indecipherable. The same is true when a television is viewed in a brightly-lit room or from an angle: Dark scenes lose more detail than bright ones. There’s a reason Best Buy doesn’t have The Godfather playing on their wall of TVs show. (There’s also a reason they were running The Dark Knight in their more dimly-lit Magnolia showrooms for years, directed at people willing to buy their most expensive models) [emphasis added].
(It goes without saying that most modern [dark] television series (and movies) should be viewed in a very low-lit room.)