...

Let’s Get it On

Personally, I’ve only seen about 5 minutes of Game of Thrones, in total. I use my TV as nature intended, for shooting imaginary men in their imaginary faces. Judging from the fact that nobody on the entire internet can effing shut up about it, it must be a very good TV show. That’s nice. Maybe I’ll look at it when the series is finished. But probably not– I burnt out on long-running series back when X-Files started to founder. Actually, I quit that series early because I was still smarting from when David Lynch was forced to wrap up Twin Peaks. And have you seen the end of Evangelion? They had to make two movies to make sense of that, and it’s still incomprehensible.

The problem I have with these longer format stories is that I don’t like the rhythm. The writers are forced to always end with suspense to make sure their viewers come back next week, or next season. It becomes tiresome, and feels more like feeding an addiction than enjoying a story for me. Watching the episodes in chunks after they’ve first aired helps, but the over all rhythm remains unchanged. It’s even worse for shows that break for commercials, because the format requires three little suspense moments every episode. That’s why you can set your watch to an episode of House.

I’d like to see more series that run for one season only– Like Shogun. Tell a story, then stop. Unfortunately, when ratings are high, there is no ‘stop’ for studio execs. That comes when ratings droop, and they force a show to wrap things up. And I can’t think of any examples where that made a show better.

6 Comments

I still don’t understand why NGE was/is so popular. It felt like a cluster of a mishmash of nonsense where they tried to cram every genre they could into it and made up the story from episode to episode without any clear direction. The ending was a steaming pile of diarrhea crap and the second one was a steaming pile of regular crap. It seems that there is some newer crap out now but I’ll never see it. The best thing to ever come out of NGE was this short fandub video that was literally half filled with Pokemon characters fighting over which of them has the biggest balls.

Neon Genesis Evangelion’s popularity is a bit perplexing. I loved the bizarre mythology that it slowly built episode by episode (though the ending made it clear that, as you say, they were making it up without clear direction– much like X-files and Lost), and the decidedly biological take on giant mecha. Seriously, gigantic bio-robots with cannibalistic tendencies and power cords? That’s a wonderful blend of badass and wacky that I enjoyed.

But I hated all the characters, without exception. I just wanted to wring Shinji’s scrawny little neck, and punch Asuka in the face! Everyone in that show deserved a good beating. Perhaps that’s the key to its popularity– the audience was able to identify with the characters. After all, each character was filled with self-loathing, and I loathed them too! We were all in agreement.

I am not familiar with this fandub of which you speak, but it sounds like it might be relevant to my interests. I’ll have to look it up.

To be clear, the Pokemon stuff in the middle of the fandub was just a montage set to that big balls song. It was utterly random and came out of nowhere in the middle of a mildly entertaining fandub where I couldn’t tell if the fandubbers hated or loved the show. I laughed hysterically when a picture of Misty appeared and “SHE’S GOT BIG BALLS” blared out of my speakers and the fandub itself was vastly more memorable because of it.

I never thought about the characters that way and I have to say that you may be right. It never occurred to me that mutual loathing for ALL characters between each other and also the audience was a valid strategy. Now I hate the creators even more.

Ah, I cannot hate the creators. For they made FLCL, the best animated series ever. The director said they made FLCL as a means to blow off steam and sort of rehabilitate from making NGE. This is a great example of duality. There is no light without shadow, no good without evil, and there would be no FLCL without NGE. I’m willing to accept this.

Interestingly, FLCL makes about as much sense as NGE, and deals with the same themes (puberty/coming of age, personal responsibility, self-regard). But while Eva takes itself too seriously, Furi Kuri does no such thing. Quite the opposite! A sense of humor goes a long way. Also, it’s much shorter, which I appreciate.

While I don’t care for NGE, it is by no means on my ‘worst of’ list. A big part of the reason for this is that it’s what made my favorite anime possible.

I recently discussed viewing strategies for long-running television series in DVD collections (BSG being the example, IIRC), and a buddy of mine suggested this: watch the 2nd half of one show, the 1st half of the next show, then stop. You’ve now watched “one show” worth of the long running series, but you don’t have the stress from the cliffhanger distracting you until you see the next episode. Obviously there are issues with this strategy, but he seemed to be getting by with it.

And now I’m pretty well convinced it wasn’t BSG, but I can’t recall what series he was watching at the time.

A reasonable approach, if a bit unwieldy. However, while it does mitigate the unwelcome effects of a cliffhanger on the viewer, it does nothing to change the fundamental problem; the structure of the story is still beholden to the marketing demands of the format. It’s not that cliffhangers are bad per se; but their overuse and predictability has become tiresome for me.

I’m looking forward to the possibility that shows that are offered on demand (as Netflix is doing) might begin to change and experiment with the overall structure since they’re not under the same sort of pressures as a regularly scheduled program. It might not happen– producers may prefer to stay comfortable and stick with what they know.

But who am I kidding– if it’s more than a half-dozen episodes, I’m going to lose interest. If it takes a writer that long to make her point, then she’s just trying to distract me with minor details.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>