First a wonderful display in our local theater:
I was worried that it wouldn’t hold me as it appears to be made of cardboard and I am not insubstantial.
Speaking of insubstantial, time for one of my rants. My wife and daughter love TV shows. I love movies. We each watch the other but that’s where our preferences lie.
I like movies that bring something new to the table (more and more uncommon these days) and I love that directors have between an hour and a half and a few hours to bring that vision to life on the screen.
My wife likes the familiarity that TV brings. Every episode of Bones is essentially the same – some citizens find a body, the folks at The Smithsonian work their magic, Booth (David Boreanaz) and Brennan/Bones (Emily Deschanel) banter, science solves the case and, very often, the murderer makes a full confession when confronted. The confession is mostly closure because Bones is not a legal show a la Law & Order so there is no lengthy judicial process.
The one hilarious exception is the Bones episode featuring the Finder. The Bones execs took a page from CSI’s book. CSI used a crime that was linked to both Miami and Vegas to use their number one show CSI to promote their brand new show CSI: Miami. It worked quite well and it wasn’t long before CSI:New York joined the ranks.
The Bones folks linked their show to a Florida case so they could promote their new show The Finder. The problem is that chemistry was poor among The Finder cast and especially poor between the two casts. This ended up being the only Bones episode that is actually awful.
Castle is much the same as Bones except that instead of Bones the scientist, we have Castle the mystery writer and because the writer is male, the cop is female. Every single week you have basically the same story unfold. A body (not usually decayed since we’re not using science to solve the crime) is discovered, Castle and Beckett banter and flirt, red herrings are weeded out and the guest star turns out to be the villain (Jeepers , it’s Mr. Jenkins from the zoo Shaggy!). I love Nathan Fillion but again every episode is the same.
This turns out to be true for almost every series. House has a strange malady brought to his attention, he and his brilliant staff work on it, House bellows like a child tyrant, they misdiagnose the case several times, and then House has an epiphany and solves the case (why does House have people on his staff? For gofers I guess).
Ditto CSI, CSI: Miami, CSI: New York, and CSI: Podunk. They just make the crime grislier, focus on the science for CSI and Caruso for CSI: Miami, and have less romance.
Ditto Law & Order where not only the episodes but the different series are pretty indistinguishable from each other though they do try to show both crime-solving and the judicial system.
This latest TV season, my daughter and I enjoyed Alcatraz for the neat premise but each episode was just the criminal of the week. Once Upon a Time turned out to be far more enjoyable than Grimm in part because it had an overall story line rather than a monster of the week.
Old series are exactly the same way as well. Moonlighting is almost the same show as Bones and Castle. The X-Files takes the same premise and tones down the flirting and they investigate the inexplicable. Fringe takes The X-Files and adds more science fiction.
I love a good story told at a nice pace. I really enjoyed Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles but you really got to see how studio pacing works. The series had two separate pacings – a normal one up until the last half dozen episodes and then the last six episodes which tell a good story with a lot of the main characters dying. Apparently the makers were told of the cancellation with enough time to wrap up the series so they went ahead and told the best stories they could to end the series (although they did cop out in case there was a chance it would be renewed).
The real question then is why couldn’t the series have been as good as the last few episodes? Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse is much the same, pacing is glacial until cancellation is announced and then they pack a couple seasons worth of content into a few episodes.
Think about the episodes you really like from a given show. Aren’t they mostly the season-enders? You know the episodes where something actually happens? The ones where a member of the cast is in actual danger? Faux danger if it’s the eponymous cast member – what are you going to do change the name of the show to Wilson? Beckett? Booth?
On the other hand familiarity is very comforting. Every episode is about the same quality so if you like episode 32, you’ll probably like episode 47 just as much. I see a ton of good movies every year but I see just as many bad ones and a lot more mediocre ones. Quality is much like a bell curve on movies.
I enjoy some of the British series where they know they have just six episodes to tell a story and that there may never be a second season. That is why they call their shows ‘series’ instead of ‘seasons’.
Anyway that’s enough for now.