Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Saturday, January 3, 2015

No More Half Measures Walt

So I've seen the first half of season one Extant.  I hate it. In reality it's mediocre not worth getting all that much in a lather about but it has a crap ton of superficial elements that would normally turn me into Spaceman Benny.


However, it drops the ball in several ways. The least complicated of which is the pacing.

Most maddening is that I've seen several shows that use its psudo-futuristic aesthetic to great effect so I know it's not like this stuff can't be done well.

While that deserves a talking about all on its own right now I don't have the patience so another time.

Part of me feels that the pacing problems are emblematic of a larger problem in network television writing right now.

Network television takes fewer risks than their cable counterparts. It's better than it was.  For a really long time the big three, NBC ABC and CBS were the only guys in town and were fighting each other for the numbers, so television had to be as broadly appealing as possible.

But we don't live in that world anymore and to be honest the networks know this and have been trying to take more risks over the past decade or so. I can't see high concept shows Once Upon a Time and Under the Dome (despite my grievances against both shows)  getting green lit between the 1970's and the advent of cable. And overall scripts feel more natural than the days where babies just magically appeared on screen as toddlers because nobody had the balls to explain how women get preggers. I might not have a lot of respect for an American television audience but if they are over the age of 15 they've probably figured it out.

It just feels to me though the networks are luke warm about serializing shows. And I would be fine with that if they were sold to me as the usual monster of the week stuff, but Extant was advertised as something bigger. Yet in most of the episodes I saw, really just the first 4 or five it was blatantly noticeable that story was jogging in place.

That there was all this stuff going on in the background but the show itself was afraid to reveal any of it and blow its wad. I feel like on cable the those episodes would have just covered the pilot.

And it's not just Extant. I love Grimm and I was excited because the close of season 3 hinted at several stories lines that just got padded out to the point where I stopped caring.

I'm not going to say there is no room in the space for episodic television.  Comedy is a gold mine for episodic good television for instance. But I'm tired of all these half measures, where there will be a promising cliff hanger and you have to wait half a season not because the writers haven't figured out what they want to do but because they'll afraid once they pull the trigger the audience will run. And in the mean time I'm getting more and more pissed that the show is wasting my time actively avoiding the hook that got me on the string.

Networks, please no more half measures.

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