Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

Tell One Story…And Then Be Done With It

04 Sep

(no, this isn’t exactly a “studio” piece, but it’s about craft, so I decided it fits better here than on my main blog. Also, it’s part of the WFMAD thing I’m doing this month.)

There is a downside to consuming shows at a rapid pace through Netflix. You see all the flaws. Repetitive formulas? Check. Mediocre writing? Check. 17 episodes of content stretched over 23? Check. The same violin sweep at every dramatic moment at the end of “what a twist!”. I am so very sick of that one.

Most of these I just roll my eyes at and move on. It’s not the show’s fault I’m consuming seasons at a time, right? Every show doesn’t have to bring their A game to every episode. There’s plenty of room for entertaining shows that are “pretty good,” right?

Oh, sure. But there is one thing that’s coming up more and more these days and gets more annoying every time it happens.

It starts with a rough first 1/3 to 1/2 of the first season. This is really not uncommon, especially in genre shows. Before they can get to the meat and bones of a decent story arc and develop lore that spans seasons, they have to make sure they’re going be around past the first mid-season drop off. I mean, wouldn’t you just HATE IT if an awesome show just vanished as it was leading to something great and it was before the days when DVD markets could propel a tv show into a movie?

Digressing, sorry.

My problem is not the first chunk of uselessness. It’s the point just after season 3 (or 4 if they’re better than others but not great) when things go off the rails and without warning, you’re watching a fundamentally different show.

(Spoilers follow for shows you should have watched 2 or 3 years ago but are probably sitting in your queue, too).

It feels like a last-ditch effort to save a dying show, and it is. Sometimes it’s obvious, in the case of Angel’s “And Now We’re a Law Firm” season. Sometimes it’s more insidious, like The Vampire Diaries turning the only non-vampire lead into a vampire. In the case of Fringe, it made me want to throw things once I realized that the bait-and-switch at the beginning of the 4th season was a permanent fixture. Supernatural had a great 5th season. It ended there as far as my queue is concerned. I am half-way through the last season of Breaking Bad and I really don’t understand why [recentenoughi'mnotgoingtospoilit] had to happen other than “because the show needed a kick to get to the end”. True Blood may be the only one that I stopped watching at the exact right moment. From what I hear of their penultimate season, it had no idea what it was doing from beginning to end.

All of this could be avoided.

Tell one story and then be done. Please quit trying to stretch a thing out longer than it needs to go, just to make a few more dollars on the end. It just leaves a bad taste in our mouths and make us wish it’d ended when it needed to.

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