Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Draaaagging it Out

I am beginning to see why people tell me that they don't watch series television. As I mentioned before I have been watching Heroes on DVD-- the only way to watch series television anymore. Why? Because the shows can't stay on the air if the storyline is wrapped up too quickly. At least that's the prevailing wisdom. I have discovered over the last few years that I only have about 2 seasons in me if I watch series television week-to-week. It becomes almost painful for me to watch the storylines of my favorite shows get stretched out and tweaked just to keep the show on the air. But being of limited intelligence I keep trying--as evidenced by my current addiction to Heroes. Am I doomed to be disappointed again? Sadly, the answer is probably yes. One thing I like about movies is that you get a whole story arc in one sitting; even in an ongoing series. Take The Dark Knight for example. Knight is the second movie in a current series about Batman. In a way you could look at it like series television in that there are installments to the story, but the big difference is that each movie tells a whole story. There's a beginning, a middle and and end-- even if the end has the potential to be continued. Each episode of Heroes ends with the caption to be continued... When do you suppose it'll say the end? But maybe I'm unusual. My personal preference is that each show have a complete story arc each season. I know that wouldn't be as dramatic and maybe the consensus that the show would lose viewers is the right one. After all, there are soap operas that have been on TV for over 50 years. Talk about dragging out the story. But what really gets me are the same old tropes that pop up again and again. I mean, let me ask you this. How many times have you seen someone die and then mysteriously turn up alive? Me? I haven't actually seen this yet in real life, but it happens on all my favorite shows all the time. Just look at BSG-- no one really dies on that show. Or how about this? How many times have you met someone with amnesia? Going by the number of times I see it on TV I'd assume it's really common. (John Doe, Samantha Who, Total Recall, Memento, etc..) Time Travel? Star Trek anyone? Heroes likes this one too... I mean, it gets crazy sometimes. Long lost sister/brother/father; mysterious strangers who have all the answers-- then suddenly die; aliens; secret organizations..... You know I could go on. So what am I trying to say? I don't know. Other than maybe it's a good thing BSG is ending this year.

10 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

You've hit on one reason why I really don't watch series TV anymore. If I start out liking it, then it starts to drag, and when I miss episodes I just don't know what is going on. Although I'd probably enjoy it, I doubt I will "EVER" watch Lost, or Heroes, or the New Battlestar Galactica. Just ain't happening. Series TV has lost me, although they seem to have captured many other viewers.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Dallas was a television show during the late seventies, early eighties which was a prime time soap opera. Only they wouldn't call it that. The catch phrase is continuing drama.

This trend has developed through much of television. Forgive me for being cynical, but it is easier to drag stuff out and suck in viewers than it is to come up with original stories each week with beginnings, middles, and end.

XFILES was a show that had several story arcs, but each show stood alone. Watching it in reruns, I am pleased to be able to watch it out of order and not have the sense that I need a score card.

The problem with a continuuing drama, as Charles mentioned, is that it makes it difficult to watch a show when you feel like you're coming into the middle of something. I could just imagine someone coming into "24" half way through the season, or "Lost".

SQT said...

Stu.. I don't think you're cynical, just correct.

24 is a show that I watched for one season, but it moves so quickly that you get lost really fast and missing one episode really messes you up. I can't take that kind of pressure in my entertainment.

I remember Dallas, mostly because of the the whole-season-was-a-dream thing. My mom was big on the night time soaps. Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing... I think Desperate Housewives has stepped into that void. Naturally I don't watch it.

Steve Malley said...

You mean, *before* the Apollo and Starbuck get caught in a wormhole that sends them back to 1930's Los Angeles, where their wormhole-induced amnesia leads Apollo to believe he's a private eye and Starbuck to think she's a mobster, but will their love conquer all?

Like that, you mean?

Or will it all turn out to be a holodeck simulation....

SQT said...

You've done this before haven't you Steve?

ShadowFalcon said...

I can't do TV. Its probably my addictive personality but I have to have the whole series before I start watching cos the waiting kills me.

I'll be sad when BSG ends but I'm glad they aren't going to drag it out forever. I think some series (like x-files) should have hung up their boots years before they did.

Avery DeBow said...

I love/hate the season finale cliffhangers. I love them because of the three months of speculation I get to do, hate because I usually end up disappointed by the actual answer. Like Lost with the Hatch. What controlled that light that flicked on at the very end was much more fun to wonder than it was to actually discover.

As for the "Monster-of-the-Week" episodes versus the drawn-out story arc, I prefer the latter and simply hope the writers are able to satisfactorily tie up all the loose ends when the series is over (unlike the X-Files, which I still grumble about).

SQT said...

Avery

I think I prefer the monster-of-the-week story is simply because most series' don't tie it up at the end. As much as I'm going to miss BSG (the only series that has kept my attention longer than 2 seasons) I'm glad they're going to have a chance to end it right.

SolShine7 said...

I can't stand when TV shows drag storylines out. There's a real art to storytelling and it seems like most showrunners don't get it.

I like Disney Channel's model. They commit to 3 seasons for a show so they know how long they have to develop the arc. There's no fear of cancellation and viewers aren't left with shows ending in weird places. More stations should take notice and map out a commitment. It would give actors/directors/writers a lot more security too in such a fickle business.

Brian Rathbone said...

I admit that I got excited about shows like Heroes, BSG, and more recently Sanctuary, only to find myself disappointed in the end. Some held my attention longer than others. This problem carries over into print as well. I've found a few fantasy series that felt like they were being drawn out over a 12 book deal. Give me a series of stories, each with their own ending, and no characters magically coming back to life, and I should be happy.