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February 4th, 2005

Television Thoughts.

Why Am I Here?

I'm waiting for money. None of my jobs paid me this week. It would have been nice, but no. I have half a tank of petrol and that should get me to work and back on the weekend. My point is not woe is me, my point is this is why I'm sitting round on Friday night thinking about television.

Still, truth is, I probably wouldn't be anywhere anyhow. I hate crowds. My friends have night jobs and relationships.

I just like choice, even if I ignore it.

Television.

Writing about television.

I don't watch much television. It's not that I have anything against it, it's just that I usually forget when something is on. Makes life hard for shows with story arcs. Outside that, I can't stand reality shows. Watching a bunch of people bitch and moan and argue is not my idea of entertainment. I want that, I'll go and start video taping my neighbours again. Just like reality tv, their sex is boring too.

When I do find a show that I like, I usually have to program myself into watching it. This time, this day, twenty four weeks. Since none of my friends are big television watchers (if they are they don't feel the need to discuss it with me) there's very little social element involved to help me remember.

The thing that puts me off television, however, is the investment of time. I'm not talking the hour one night a week, I'm talking that hour, twenty four weeks, five to six years.

That's a lot of investment. A lot of time for the show to go bad, then good, then bad again. You hang in though, when you're watching it for the first year, because you tell yourself that it's just an hour this week and you've already gone so far with it. If it's bad this week, it'll get better. You've put the time aside, anyhow, so you come back. You could do that for a year. I mean, for fucks sake, I watched season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and that was ninety percent trash. Still, there were a couple of good episodes, and I thought it would pick up--I thought, it's the last season, they won't have a bad guy with no body and no purpose beyond a bland and all encompassing evil and a ha ha ha I'm taking over the world line. But they did. Joss Whedon deserved his eyeballs burnt for that.

Still, my point is, I gave the twenty four weeks to it. I'd say: it'll get better. Of course, I was also helped along by the fact that there was a definite end--I don't think I would have lasted if I'd know there was going to an eighth season.

Whiny Bitch, What's Your Point?

But last night, I tuned into Lost. First episode, alla that.

It wasn't bad. Wasn't fantastic. Had a few nice moments. Some stupid ones. My thought at the end was simple: if this is a one season idea, I'm going to be good. If Lost is just one season, complete and finished, I can last. And surely, I thought, no one is going to make six years out of a cast of people being stuck on an island with Godzilla. Surely not. I mean, I don't care what your island is, it's a one season idea. It hasn't got the legs to go beyond that.

Take 24 for example. It was an interesting high concept premise: each episode equals an hour, it takes place over twenty four hours. Cool. You could do anything in that, because obviously, you couldn't do a second season. What would you call it? 24: Day Two? No one would be stupid enough to do that. Of course, as we all know, people did make a second and third and, I believe, fourth season of 24.

I never got past three episodes of season 2. It was just stupid. It pushed the boundaries of credibility to think that the main character would go through this again, and that his family would be involved. Now, it's not impossible to set up the idea of making 24 a reaccuring season, but you have to put it into a situation where the main character would be in this sort of intense situation regular as washing yourself. A soldier is a good pick, but then how many battles are twenty four hours? A team of soldiers is a better choice. You could call it 24: Iraq or some shit, and American soldiers could go in, blow the fuck out of poor Iraq's for twenty four episodes, and then return next year in season two, 24: Iran.

But, returning to Lost, I found out that they're planning a season two. There's lots of mythology on the island, says the creator.

Which means they're still on the island.

I haven't got two years of my life to give to a bunch of people stuck on an island.

What, Trek Bashing?

They canceled Enterprise.

Shocking. That sound you hear is two nerds yawning. Was there anyone who cared enough about the Trek franchise that they thought, "Oh, no, not Enterprise!" I seriously doubt it. But you know, as much as I'm bored shitless with Trek stuff, Enterprise was the only series I could flip on and watch. Of course, once they started referencing September 11th, I laughed and changed the channel. But before that, I could flip it on every now and then and watch an episode and zone to it and learn about bad script writing, and that was okay. The reason I was able to do this, however, was because I didn't need to have twenty years of Trek franchise knowledge floating around in my head to understand what was going on.

Still, I never did watch more than a handful. Shit is still shit.

And Now, the News.

What live action television needs to do is embrace the idea of single seasons. What I want is a series that is one season. when the final episode rolls around, that's it. No one comes back after that. There is a down side to this, naturally, in that shows that grow from season to season won't find their feet, but I'm not suggesting that you chop out the soap side of television. Keep it. There's an audience for it, obviously.

But me, I want a series that ends. Twenty four episodes, on year, definite end. Not a six episode mini series or whatever the else fuck is out there. One regular season of hourly (forty minute) episodes.

Think about it: how much more interesting would Lost be if you knew that there would be no second season? That every answer, character arc, whatever, would play itself out over the twenty four episodes. There wouldn't be things held back and there wouldn't be 'sudden additions' for season two (can't you just wait for new cast members to show on Lost--ooh, is that a second plane crash?).

Just twenty four episodes.

It's being done, sure, but come on, embrace it. I want it.