Saturday, December 05, 2015

Streaming novels

I'm generally really satisfied with current state of TV. I've been arguing for much of what we're seeing lately for a very long time.

I like the long form storytelling over the series of largely unconnected stories, for the most part. I like ending things after a limited run rather going on and on long after the magic of them is gone.

So, I think the trends are the right direction, even if I do still think many of the greats of television from eras past are still great, and the calls of a current a new Golden Age are at least premature in many ways.

It's interesting to me that all of the shows made by Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu, etc., are sticking to seasons of 13 or so episodes of just under an hour, or half-hour, each. It's the format that cable series have borrowed from BBC and one I definitely think works better than seasons of 26 episodes, especially when they run as long as they're able to get away with it.

It seems they're all hedging bets they'll want to, or need to, sell them for regular TV at some point or in some markets. Of course now they are, a lot are in a medium I think it's silly to be so specifically rigid for. Make 8 episodes or 16. Make one episode 2 hours and another 35 minutes. At some point this becomes like if all novels were 350 pages, made up of 35 chapters that are each 10 pages.

I've been arguing for TV series telling a long form, novel like story since long before it took off. The thing I miss now that it's taken off, though, is the occasional off-formula episodes, the funny episode or the take-off or whatever. The '90s shows this trend grows out of, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, etc., had those. I like them and I think they still could.

I think the more important benefit is how those kinds of episodes allow you to visit and explore the characters from different angles. An askew episode can also change the pacing of a show when watched, as we so often do now, in a binge. This latter reason is, I think, part of why they're afraid of them, as they're dedicated to a certain straightforward path, but I think that's where they could benefit the most in having asides that break from that, as both a relief from it and a building of it.

My point is that I think there's much further they can go in experimenting and trying new ways to telling a great story as well as more things being left behind that would benefit them, too.

I'll continue to be interested in seeing how all of this shakes out in days to come.

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