Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What to Watch?

We had only been watching half an hour or so of the new Prisoner mini-series when Richard said, "I'm tired of these shows." Pressed for elucidation, he said "you know, shows where the whole thing is WHAT'S GOING ON?"

There certainly a lot of these cued on our DVR--Heroes, FlashForward, Fringe, with Lost coming back soon, yes? We were also fans of that canceled one about the people in the bank robbery and that other canceled one about the aliens in the swamp. We gave up on Dollhouse (Eliza Dushku as a robot, quelle surprise) and after Richard announced last night that he had Had It with Fringe, we deleted that, too. (I was done with that one weeks ago, but would contentedly play iPod Scrabble while R attempted to parse the increasingly careless storytelling.)

These shows are quite a risk, especially in the aggregate, as people get more conservative about just how many they can handle, and as even regular shows like Ugly Betty and Law & Order (Anita gets cancer and a boyfriend) up their serial quotient. The only show we follow where you won't get confused watching out of order is Modern Family. Stand-alone TV episodes are about as rare as stand-alone fantasy novels!

But the real problem is with those shows that ask us to trust them to eventually solve the mysteries that provide their premises. Lost in only watchable if you have faith that it is going someplace worthwhile. Let's hope it doesn't end like Alias, but the issue isn't so much that the conclusion needs to satisfy us as it is that we feel encouraged along the way. Wait, now I think I'm talking about religion.


Melissa Wiley said...

I'm a big fan of LOST, chewing my nails waiting for its return, but my faith that the series is going to resolve in a satisfying manner was seriously weakened when I saw the video of J.J. Abrams's speech at TED a couple of years ago. Abrams shows the crowd a cardboard box marked all over with question marks. When he was a child, he bought this box at a magic shop. It was touted as a "mystery box"--you had to buy it to find out what was inside. In all these years, ABRAMS HAS NEVER OPENED THE BOX.

For him, the mystery IS the magic. The question marks are what sold him on the box, not the actual goods inside.

When my husband and I watched that speech, I turned to him and said, "This does not bode well for the resolution of LOST."

What I want out of LOST is to finally see inside the box, so to speak, and to know the answers to all those questions. I hope there's something with substance inside.

Anonymous said...

I got totally caught up in The Riches - and then it was CANCELLED - I was shocked, I thought it was great. Now I watch most stuff on iTunes and am always at least a season behind - and can therefore know in advance when a show is yanked, or ends formally. Except I am watching Glee week by week. They better not cancel it before Finn finds out he's not that baby's father.

Betty T

Monica Edinger said...

I think one of the wilder recent resolutions for such shows was the one done for the US version of Life on Mars. (BTW, I thought it was terrific and was very sad it was canceled.)

Anonymous said...

I don't know how much JJ is shaping the ending of Lost. I think that Damon and Carleton are the ones who have crafted the ending, and that JJ has moved on.