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June 25, 2014


You know reading this reminded me of NYPD Blue. When the showrunner there got to the point of handing out scripts at the last minute and such, he lost lead actors and ended up losing his job. It was this big industry MESS (and I think it was when Jimmy Smits quit)

Funny how a decade or so changes things huh?

it's soapy, is what it is.

pile up the characters and coincidences and retcon the backstories; turn the characters into pure id; make all motivations all-consuming and completely irrational and short-lived. keep the short-term drama as hot as you can with just enough continuity so people will gasp when you have that character from last season (the one you killed!) step into the light, holding a gun.

my wife has me watching Vampire Diaries and Revenge. i know me some teen soaps.

The only ad-driven shows from the last decade that I've watched and enjoyed have been procedurals, so some of what you describe as authorial misbehavior would be genre norms in them. E.g., (some) characters can show up out of the blue w/o explanation because the job is what's important, so it's implicit that there's plenty of plot-irrelevant social interaction happening off-screen. Admittedly, I'm also watching shows with older audience demographics, and as curmudgeonly as it sounds, I have to assume that really does make a difference.

Honestly, I think Teen Wolf is so far below ad-driven show standards it's ridiculous. I mean, I watch lots of ad driven shows, including bad ones and other ones aimed at teens - none of the kind of complete lack of concern for continuity that Teen Wolf has. It's in a surreal class of its own.


teen wolf is reaching a level of non-connected mess of overemotional, overdramatic little scenes, abstract nonsense that surpassed ridiculous these days...
but hey! stargates weren't that bad! sure, it wasn't the best writing but there was a continuity, there was a timeline, the characters have some consistency in their characterization and cause and effect existed in that verse.
elementary is pretty ok too.
no comment on hawaii 5-0; never watched.
but the other two (stargate and elementary) cannot be compared to teenwolf. nope. especially after the end of s2 (it more or less had managed to have a sloppy but clearly visible story up during s1 and s2). s 3a and s3b was the kind of absurd train-wreck that i can't compare to anything. ever.

Somewhat curious: how does one determine what is an "ad-financed" (or "ad driven") show? As opposed to what? Surely not just PBS or HBO or some version of Pay TV?

I seem to be missing some key modern meme here, because I don't see what Teen Wolf, Stargate, Hawaii 5-0, and Elementary have in common except that they're not on paid cable television. But if that's all, that would put them in the same category as about 90% of all television over the last half century, which is not a very sharp distinction.

(I'm not trying to start an argument here; I genuinely don't get it.)

dr ngo:

Yes, that's exactly what I mean. The vast majority of TV has historically been ad-financed, but now there are alternatives like Pay-Cable and Pay-streaming.

"Orange Is the New Black", for instance, is not ad-financed: the viewers are the customers. I've been watching "Orphan Black", paying for it directly by streaming from Amazon.

I'm theorizing that ad-financed TV has become more emotional and incoherent over the years, evolving to be a more perfect setting for ads. Paid-cable and paid-streaming are re-discovering that they can and must deliver more coherent *stories* to their viewers, because the audience is the customer, not the product.

The "ad-financed" series that I consistently watched that last two years are Elementary, The Americans, Murdoch Mysteries, and Arctic Air. The last pair are on CBC, so you likely missed them, but they do have good continuity between episodes. And although mystery series have self-contained plots to most episodes, Murdoch and Elementary certainly care about the characters they introduce and develop them over time.
For a show you might be more familiar with, why would you say that The Americans is not credible at continuity and overall story-telling?
(BTW, I am feuding with my daughter about Elementary. As a devoted Doctor Who fan, she sees it as a ripoff of Steven Moffat's Sherlock, so she refuses to watch.)

What distinguishes a good TV series, whether ad-financed or otherwise, doesn't change:
1) interesting (i.e. not 1 dimensional) characters.
2) characters who develop over time.
3) good stories. That is, stories which have a beginning, middle, and end in each episode.
4) a story arc that crosses episodes. Thus there are events which occur in one episode which build on events in previous episodes and continue into future episodes.

A show can, perhaps, be adequate without all four. But probably not without at least two.

I hear you Cleek, my wife has me watching those shows as well. Sometimes entertaining, but they sure do churn away. Utterly non rewatchable.

On the other hand, I have found Reign to be more entertaining than Game of Thrones, even though I am a diehard GRRM fan. I get a little sick of the HBO show runners budget cop outs.

How on earth did Stargates have bad continuity? Stargate was really good at continuity for a non-arc-based show.

I mean, SG1 is the show that when they actually did commit a continuity error (they needed a real DHD instead of their hacked computer interface in one episode, so had to go through all sorts of hassle to get the one from the Russians...but the writers forgot America already had an extra real DHD, from the Antarctica Stargate, sitting around), the fans complained so much they wrote in a line in a later episode about how the Antarctica DHD had died almost immediately after they recovered it, to explain why no one tried to use it during that other episode. The fans had come to expect continuity so much that a slip-up needed an *on screen* explanation.

I think perhaps you've confused continuity with 'arcs'. Pretty much all of Stargate's episodes were standalones or two parters, with a seasonal enemy but very little seasonal story. But continuity is simply 'a consistent universe'. Stargate had that.

Obviously, a show where the entire season, or even the entire thing, is written out in advance, is going to have *better* continuity, but Stargate, SG1 at least, was much better at continuity than pretty much any non-arc-based genre show. I mean, for God's sake, look at the X-Files.

The other Stargates were also fairly consistent, as far as I recall. Not that that they were particularly *good* shows, but they had reasonable continuity. (Of course, the *movie* didn't have continuity with the series, but that's because the movie pretty clearly wasn't in the same continuity as the series.)

I have found Reign to be more entertaining than Game of Thrones


GoT is just too huge a universe for TV. there are too many characters and too many plotlines, IMO. S1 was interesting because it was new. S2 had me reaching for my iPhone so i could play some games because i got tired of trying to figure out who was doing what and i what i was supposed to think about it. i'm completely uninterested in starting S3.

Reign is very condensed and simplified (by comparison), and has better background music.

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