Death and Resurrection
For Lent, I lost roughly 11 pounds.
On April 30th, I lost both of my cats when a vicious unleashed husky attacked them just beyond the patio of my ground-floor apartment. Tabby died a few minutes after falling out of a tree as a result of the dog’s attack. Ashley died 10 hours later at a vet’s office from internal injuries. My landlord claims they’re investigating, but I have not heard word.
Anyway, in the middle of May, I also lost a number of television shows I really enjoyed.
So pardon me if I’ve not been blogging much at all lately. I’ve had a hard enough time wanting to write or do anything, except maybe veg out in front of some comedies.
But it’s actually on this last point I wanted to blog. A number of shows are getting canned to make way for new ones. Among the dead is FlashForward, a show I really enjoyed, and its godfather of sorts, Lost.
I think, and I blogged on this before, that complex, scripted television isn’t dead. The problem in many cases is that either the complexity crowds out character development, or it crowds out actual plot development.
Heroes, which is also ending, had a touch of this in its subsequent seasons, where new people, new powers, and new relationships, made it all very difficult to follow. But you still cared about the characters, even if not much at all actually ended up happening.
V, which is getting renewed, does not lack for plot, but it does lack for character. I stopped watching because I couldn’t stand it – either the acting was terrible (aside from the V’s Leader) or the character/motivation was lacking. They focused so much on the plot that they forgot about the characters.
FlashForward straddled the fence on these problems. Its character focus was uneven at times – it seemingly ended a marriage without much of a thought, but also took great pains to show us more about Simon and others. Its plot and drama was uneven, too (oh no! that ring we assumed had been stolen was in fact stolen!). But they had enough of both to be a good effort.
Here is where I think FlashForward, in particular, fell apart: its complexity. In this show, we have political intrigue, a cover-up, shadowy organizations, double and triple agents, military contractors up to no good, random organizations like the Blue Hand, snippets of informations like 137 seconds, all of it thrown on the wall without much focus. And like Dyson Frost’s own wall, the forks in the road are easily washed away.
Too many scripted shows are either being planned out for multiple seasons or not planned at all. We get overly complex mysteries, or episodic, if formulaic, adventures.
I would love to see a show like Heroes tried to be, and certainly excelled at in its first season. I’d love to see a complex mystery take a season to resolve, with enough character development and a small/new problem to take us over to the next season if they get one.
It’s far more satisifying to see a long-running mystery get resolved after just one season than to see it get canned by network ratings and ad budgets with nothing to show for it. And if you’re so luck to survive the carnage as a freshman show, bring on a sophomore performance with the same potential to wow and confound.
Smart shows can be done successfully. There is a middle ground between stand-alone episodes and multi-season story arcs. I just wish Hollywood would give them a try.