Following up a little on my last post wherein I quoted Peter Suderman lamenting the lack of direction and planning for the show Battlestar Galactica, let me just add that two other shows I watch have fallen into similar traps.
Heroes started out quite good and has since deteriorated into what I can best describe as an ad hoc show full of very lackluster episodic seasons. There is no over-arching plot that weaves the “chapters” together. We never do encounter the Hiro Nakamura of the future – the hardened, somber counterpart to the goofy modern Hiro who we first meet in Season One – after that first meeting of Future Hiro and Peter. Hiro tells Peter to “save the cheerleader, save the world.” To me this was a long-term project, not just something Peter was meant to achieve that season. But the writer’s felt differently. And the apocalyptic future we were introduced to in season one is all but gone from following seasons. Future Hiro is gone, too.
Villains shift, and plots die off. The world is threatened time and again by one villain after the next, but we’re never really immersed in an extended battle of good and evil. There’s no high stakes, because nothing is sustained. Characters drift apart and then come back together without any rhyme or reason. There is no long view even now, after however many seasons. It’s maddening, really. I don’t know why I keep watching.
I used to feel similarly about Lost, but seasons 4 and 5 have disabused me of this. By season 3 I came to the conclusion that the writers themselves were hopelessly lost. The introduction of new characters and new plot lines seemed haphazard at best. And the constant addition of new extras – new crash survivors – became such a pet peeve I could barely take it anymore. (this is still a pretty big pet peeve, actually)
But then things changed. They tightened up the plot, cut out a lot of the unnecessary narrative and back-story, and began focusing on tying together the various plot-threads and points in the past, present, and future in such a way that is both gripping and – for a time-traveling story – makes enough sense to keep us from rolling our eyes.
I would argue this is the difference between a good show and a bad show – the ability of its writers and producers to be patient, to take into account the long view, and to extend the plot out beyond just the season or the episode in question. That’s not easy. I’m glad Lost seems to be back on track.
P.S. – I watch all these on my computer which invariably means I’m behind on everything – at least for Lots. No spoilers please.
(Image via DRM Artwork)