Because I was already thinking of doing this, and not because Chris Roberson beat me to it, or because our blogs are going to become a forum for a personal argument, I'm going to post some thoughts I shared with Roberson and Sean Williams in an email this morning on why I think NBC's Heroes is my favorite show on television currently and may emerge over time as my favorite show of all time. Note this is NOT a rebuttal to Chris - I long sense gave up on trying to get him to watch. This was a digression into what I think Heroes is doing that is notable in the history of evolving TV narrative:
What it's doing that is making it for me is that it seems to be leaving the episodic nature of television behind completely. Sometimes they'll run a "To be continued" and this just blows my mind, because in a show where everything seems to be carried forward and thru, I can't figure out when they decide something is "to be continued" and something isn't. I think it's just to give us a break from the horrid voice overs, since the TBC episodes don't have one at the end and
start. What Heroes is doing to me and my wife is showing us the absurdity of dramas that start out at the beginning of the hour with a problem and resolve it by the end.
I am actually very distrubed by this.
Because that's how most television has been written since the medium's inception.
I always prided myself on not being one of those people who can't watch black and white film or refuse to watch things because they are old or the special effects aren't up to today's standards. My excuse was always that it's the story that matters, not the set dressings. But Heroes is doing fundamentally different things with story. I know this began with St Elsewhere and Babylon 5 and a dozen other shows over the last decade, but the level of inter-connectivity, non-episodic format is to an entirely new degree. Rome does this too - they are really neck and neck for my affection and it's probably just that I'm more into comics than history that puts
Heroes ahead - but Rome feels just a touch more episodic.
What I'm realizing is that changes in the sophistication of narrative may forever remove me from the garden and I'm not sure I can go back.
Now, back on B5 - I started on season three and went back, having hated it when it first aired. [And the weaker] Season five's not Joe's fault. He thought he had to end the show on season four, so he hurried to do so, then got the extra year after all and had to stretch it out. Then a major cast member quit between seasons, and he'd planned to hang a huge arc on her. But I often wish B5 had been 5 books instead of 5 years of tv so that the story he meant to tell
from the beginning could get told.
Meanwhile, I am expecting the next truly brilliant, paradigm shifting SF epic to show up sometime in the next five years, not from US television at all, but from another corner - either Asian tv or YouTube or bittorrent or elsewhere. I'm expecting that whoever is behind it is working on it right now and that when it arrives it will be mind-charringly brilliant, as it is able to tell exactly the story it sets out to tell, in exactly however many segments that entails (and no more), without being beholden to the time and commercial constraints of tv, and that once it arrives the real era of SF filmmaking will be well and truly underway. Godspeed!