General Open Thread – TV Shows

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  • #38360

    @purofilion

    So, not a fan of Kennedy?

    No problem with Kennedy at all and I find the “Chemistry” thing a bit of a canard. It wasn’t a ‘chemistry’ based relationship, but need based – and when we got to the monster shag-fest in Touched everyone else was in pretty much the same place, except those two, because Willow’s magic broke Kennedy down: “You’re my way now”. Of course, it has absolutely no long term prospects – needs pass – but it was right person/ right time.

    which bit in the commentary? The part about the flamey hand

    Yep – he was saying how neither SMG nor Marsters seemed able to understand his direction, but I think that is because that had a firmer grasp on the relationship by then.

    The issue of a soul remains a troubling one

    Indeed – but I think it is meant to be. “It kinda stings”. I think Angel’s petty jealousy (he is – like all men –  12, after all) was amusing, but Spike was previously jealous and that’s what drove him to find the greased weasel. And yes, he certainly laughed as he burned. The poetic delusion was replaced by understanding and although I see no sign that he especially repented (he has no inclination to apologise for things he had no control over), he clearly wanted redemption. Also, the punch bag was very funny.

    So much more interesting than all of the Spuffy bollocks.

    The Power is an interesting one:

    It is, indeed. I think if you take the posit “knowledge is power”  then we get a bit Sun Tzu – The First had no corporeal form but could cause havoc by understanding people and knowing his own plan. But .his weakness is when that plan is understood by the adversery

    BTW, I liked Storyteller a lot – the implosion of Andrew’s illusions, his acceptance of culpability, was brilliant, and Tom Lenk showed real chops- and then paid off as The Storyteller got a final, noble, outing to bring comfort to Xander. “She was incredible. She died saving me”.

    Oh, yes – the sound effect when Dawn kicks Buffy in the shin: comedy gold.

    @cathannabel

    Totally agree about the “Here’s the part where you make a choice” moment. It genuinely felt like the entire series had been built to that and Baseball Girls’s smile was wonderful. You just know the next hit is going waaaaay back.

    Did you know that BITD, some fuckwits actually tried to equate Buffy’s action, in which she asked all the assembled Potentials what they wanted,  with Willow’s tampering with Tara’s memory, or the men chaining the first slayer to a rock and forcing the essence on her? Some people don’t deserve good things.

     

    #38361
    ScaryB @scaryb

    @Purofilion Glad the finale blew your socks off. Great analysis

    @pedant – Great to see you back; hope RL’s improving and you get settled to regular computer again soon

    @cathannabel

    <span style=”font-style: italic; color: #222222;”>that beautiful sequence of young women taking that power on, without understanding it but knowing that its theirs, and standing up, literally or figuratively… Lord, that moves me so much</span>

    As @jimthefish already said, that is just so moving. Thank you

    @jimthefish

    t’s a spine-tingling moment that redeems whatever weaknesses the season overall had because it’s not just a powerful, affirming statement to make but because it’s also a moment of incredible narrative power. This is Buffy ultimately triumphing over the Watchers’ Council, Prophecy, the whole patriarchal edifice that has dictated her life since she was called as a Slayer.

    Yes, yes, and yes!

    #38362
    ScaryB @scaryb

    On a sidestep from Buffy love 🙂 – is anyone still watching Broadchurch?

    Finally caught up with the finale of series 2. And much like Buffy S7 finale. it makes up for everything that was slightly off about the rest of the series. When Broadchurch gets it right, it does so in spades, and often it’s in the very small details.  Also similarly to Buffy, it delivered redemption to its characters in bringing shattered, previously painfully isolated souls back together in a moment that had me blubbing embarrassingly (but fortunately unwitnessed!!). Things had changed, none of them will be the same again, but all had developed and found a way to move on together.

    Performances were stunning (but generally understated) throughout, not least from Tennant and the amazing Olivia Colman. Arthur Darvill too.

    #38371
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @scaryb – not ‘still’ so much as ‘fully intend to watch when I have time’. Fortunately, audiences held up well enough that they’re going for Series 3 – and fortunately for me, I have Series 2 recorded.

    I couldn’t watch the first two episodes on broadcast, then when the first iffy reviews came in I decided that I was going to wait to watch until I could see the whole shape of the series. If you’ve got a drama (rather than a soap) you often can’t make sense of things until the finale. Chibnall being a Who writer, I thought he might well have decided to try that route.

    The classic example for AG Who is, of course, Series 5. 🙂

    #38392
    ScaryB @scaryb

    @bluesqueakpip

    Re Broadchurch – I’d definitely recommend you give it a shot.

    Spoiler free ScaryB review –

    The main thing that’s been attracting criticism is the lack of realism about the court room scenes. It is problematic but I can see why they wanted to shape the series round it. The problem is that while it works as a symbolic space – a place to bring all the characters together, where the truth must be told, and where they can all share in certain revelations at the same time – it’s not filmed as metaphor (and wouldn’t work that way in the context of the rest of the show).  So if you have any knowledge of the workings of courts, you will need to do a big suspension of disbelief and just go with it. The timescale of the trial also has a distorting effect  on things that happen, to 2 characters in particular, which would normally need more than the time they are given to recover from. (But you are the Queen of timeywimey, I’m sure you can work your way through that! 🙂 )

    There are also quite a lot of background characters who need to be introduced to make sense of some of the lead characters’ journeys and motivations, so again you need to sometimes think through the implications of these, from what are essentially quite sketchy, sometimes rushed, bits.

    On the other hand, what it does get right is its emotional heart, and characters’ emotional journeys. The acting is superb throughout, from the leads to the minor characters, inc one of the kids. It’s quite harrowing at times in showing how isolated individuals become as a result of 1 character’s actions in particular and a number of other (relatively) smaller betrayals, and how people react to them. The camerawork is also fantastic, making full use of the location and contrasting the massive solidity of the cliffs and the sea with the smallness of the people.  It’s also great on very small, underplayed details which reveal character. There are great female characters all through it – I thought it had a particularly strong take on the female perspective (while not dismissing the male one) – and the finale definitely pays off in my opinion and possibly not in the way you might expect.

    So there you go. Hope you get a chance to check it out (tell me about lists of things to be watched!). Would love to hear what you think.

    #38393
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @scaryb

    The main thing that’s been attracting criticism is the lack of realism about the court room scenes.

    Yes, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Television’s been wedded to this kitchen sink realism for so long that it’s become very difficult for a writer to say ‘realism really isn’t the best way of telling this part of the story’. So unless you’ve established from the very start of the series that certain things will be presented in a stylised way (such as Sherlock, with its on-screen texts in the very first episode) you. are. stuck.

    Even in Doctor Who. You’ve got walking tree-creatures, inter-dimensional portals, comedy elves – and some b*gg*r is guaranteed to complain bitterly that the actor is flying a Lancaster bomber when it should have been a Halifax. 🙄

    So it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of the complaints would be about something where it’s blatantly obvious that the writer must know how a courtroom really works – and has decided, for some reason, not to do it that way.

    #38396
    Anonymous @

    @pedant @jimthefish @scaryb @cathannabel

    yes. I was stupid. Or forgetful. By the time the women of the world (including the baseball player-we’d call it soft ball in Oz -diff game a bit but an awful name!) -the lady in the trailer –  started to stand, I was snot crying and a total misery. That was my fav moment. Anyone who thinks it was all about Spike’s sacrifice needs body parts examined.

    Am I going too far?

    Ah yes! The direction of that flamey- hand scene. Joss says they were too ‘actorr’ and noble about it. He wanted natural. But what’s that? If you’re an actor, you know, I guess. If you’re JM and SMG -working for 5 + plus years together, you’d know. So what was wanted didn’t equal what was required so something was missing from that scene.

    I see, so the ‘fan base of stoopid dudes’ explained that Buffy yelling at the fledglings was like will’s magic use over tara? Don’t get it. Never will.

    by the way, @pedant what is BITD?

    I’m trying to enjoy The Storyteller  -but half way thru I stopped it . Had a break and then turned it back on -glad I did. Certainly it set up the rest of the story but it also ‘seeded -in’ Andrew’s use of his Big Lie to Save Xander’s Heart  at the very end.

    But ‘that’s my girl’. Not sure Xander would believe it with that line. Just my opinion. As if he knew what Andrew knew…..

    Once again, utterly happy with this year’s viewing. Last year began with ER S1 -15 (OMG) and also a few series of Supernatural (iffy) but they did include both C Carpenter and Marsters -which at the time were just ‘actors’ to me. Looking back, one can now say these actors have aged.

    I watched a panel which was the 20th anniv of Buffy but Buffy the movie -the actress who played Buffy was sitting at the end and obviously filled with discomfort but the real surprise was Mark Metcalf -hadn’t heard from him before. He’s exquisitely funny and uber polite. “how are you? and thank you for your question” And the end, he says “thank you” again. In Oz, panellists say “huh?” with  “grunt” at the end.

    Some Americans are very articulate. Some, of course, are not. It’s a confusing world.

    #38398

    @scaryb

     So if you have any knowledge of the workings of courts, you will need to do a big suspension of disbelief and just go with it.

    The problem isn’t the suspension of disbelief but that the story rested so heavily on the two lead QCs being such utter, abject, total and complete incompetents and the judge so totally unaware of basic of law that it felt like rather than suspend my disbelief, I would have to take my intelligence out and flagellate it with barbed wire and then pour acid into the cuts in order to distract from the sheer ineptitude of the plotting. When the show left the court it got some of its mojo back, but every single time it entered, right up to the verdict, felt like Chibnall was spitting in my face.

    Juries are devilishly difficult to convince of things at the best of times – the will they/won’t they convict dynamic is there anyway –  so why he felt the need to inflict this insulting load of old toss on us is beyond me. It was totally unnecessary. And the resolve to Sandbrook did nothing to redeem it (but that was because we really hadn’t been given enough time to give much of a toss about the victims because of the stupid, pointless and terrible courtroom diversion).

    In Chosen the D&D scene was specifically designed to boost love of Amanda, so that her death hurt more. There was none of that in Broadchurch.

    And that’s notwithstanding the fastest recovery from heart surgery ever.

    @bluesqueakpip

    So it doesn’t surprise me that a lot of the complaints would be about something where it’s blatantly obvious that the writer must know how a courtroom really works – and has decided, for some reason, not to do it that way.

    That would be Veronica Mars, which was about corruption not the case at hand, which in dramatic terms was solved. This was a case of ‘can’t be bothered to come up with a credible way to do it, so I’ll just pluck something from my arse and hope the actors playing the two least compelling characters ever can cover the cracks.’ They couldn’t.

    I am utterly shocked and appalled at the number of critics willing to defend that utter, utter shite.

    #38399

    @purofilion

    BITD

    Oh, soz – Back In The Day.

    #38401

    @purofilion

    BTW, I think on the S6 set there is an extra of a panel discussion with most of the cast except SMG. If you want to see how graceless and full of ARSE fans can be en masse compare the welcomes for the cast and for Marti Noxon (who took a lot of flack for the dark tone of S6).

    #38402
    Anonymous @

    @pedant Ah, thank you.

    So, not a fan of Broadchurch 🙂

    I watched the first episode and then reported to the fam: “guess what, you thought it was slow last time? Now, the whole thing has gone effectively back to the beginning”

    But I can’t criticise it because of  Rampling  -and I love her. BITD, I thought her interviews on Parky in the 70s and 80s were terrific.

    Court rooms -spend waaay too much time in them so I really don’t want to watch more.

    @scaryb your beautiful review of B’Church, might make me change my mind! I do love Connelly, and Tennant is pretty marv at anything he puts his mind to.

     

     

    #38405
    Anonymous @

    @pedant ta, will do!

    #38407
    ichabod @ichabod

    Broadchurch — I saw the first series, hung in to the end.  While everybody acted their sox off very well, I just couldn’t figure out why I should give a damn about any of these incredibly dull people.  The major question about everybody seemed to be, who’s this person sleeping with instead of the person they are *suppsed* to be sleeping with?  That is probably a distortion, but it’s the impression I was left with.  Oh, the grim woman living in isolation on the beach for extremely good reasons did interest me; just not enough.  As soon as I heard that series two was going to be mostly courtroom drama, I decided against bothering with 2.  It would just be going over the same ground again, same dull bunch, with sprinkles.  It takes a *lot* more than that to lure me into a tv courtroom again.  Any tv courtroom.  I couldn’t even stick with the last couple of courtroom drama series from the UK, “Silk” and something else.

    What catches my attention these days isn’t carnography no matter how fancied up (“Hannibal”, I’m looking at you),  drunken, dope-addicted, or downright crazy detectives, some dreary “immortal” who’s fixing things so he’ll be the *only* human male able to procreate (Jesus or somebody, save me, PLEASE, from more adolescent dick-fantasies — this one’s “Helix”, and “Last Man on Earth” looks more childish still), or even murder stories set in unusual places (The Bridge, The Killing, The Whatever).

    I’m waiting for “The Returned”, about French zombies — you can tell they’re French because they look stoned, stone-faced, or just stunned a huge part of the time, but who wouldn’t with dead folks coming home *without being able to tell anybody anything about death*, their own or anybody else’s — those French, such *teases*! — (Oh, and not the desperately lame US knock off, called something else); and for more of the one with a lot of people vanished — “The Leftovers”.  Anything with an ounce of mystery, unpredictability, and mental agility, really.  So, of course, the Doctor — which is probably what’s wrecked me for nearly everything else — cheesy effects, plot holes, repetitiousness, hand-waving incomprehensibility, missed opportunities, and all.

    If they end up in a courtroom in Series 9, though, I’m off.

    #38410

    @craig

    Buffy seems to have tipped this thread tot he 20 page danger zone…

    @ichabod

    I’m waiting for “The Returned”, about French zombies

    Now that is magnificent. I anxiously await season 2. The Leftovers was a nice surprise too – -would have been easy to bail after two eps, but so glad I didn’t.

    #38411
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @pedant

    Well, that misses my point pretty comprehensively. Or possibly illustrates it, I dunno.

    The problem isn’t the suspension of disbelief but that the story rested so heavily on the two lead QCs being such utter, abject, total and complete incompetents and the judge so totally unaware of basic of law…

    I wonder how many adults in the UK don’t know that witnesses aren’t allowed to watch the court proceedings until they’ve given their own evidence? Very few, wouldn’t you say?

    Because between Crown Court and Law and Order UK and Judge John Deed and various court cases whenever a soap feels the need to jack up viewing figures, we’ve all seen a naturalistic presentation of a court case.

    So as soon as the witnesses are allowed in, we know that we’re not watching a realistic representation. It’s been done before. Flowers for the Judge by Margery Allingham, for example – but that was a novel, so she was able to say in a short forward that she knew perfectly well this does not happen.

    So complaining that the judge is unaware of the basics of law (or the QC’s don’t know their job) is like complaining Alexander Armstrong is flying a Lancaster. It’s expecting realism again. In a story where the audience has already been given a massive signal that this part of the story is not realistic.

    Realism is a genre where the stories could have happened. We should have guessed from the first series that Broadchurch isn’t quite in that genre (Ellie would never have been allowed to investigate a crime where her own family were witnesses and suspects). But that particular bit of non-realism is a common convention, so the audience let it slide.

    It was pretty clear from Broadchurch 1 that Chibnall isn’t interested in a police procedural. He’s interested in the impact on a small, close-knit community of one of their own children being murdered. Broadchurch Two is about the impact of it being someone everybody knew and trusted.

    Okay, haven’t seen it, can’t comment on the acting and writing of the court scenes as drama (rather than ‘how realistic are they as a representation of a UK court’) until I have. But…

    Juries are devilishly difficult to convince of things at the best of times

    Realism again, you see.

    #38412

    @bluesqueakpip

    Well, that misses my point pretty comprehensively.

    You’re confusing missing your point with finding it risible.

    So complaining that the judge is unaware of the basics of law (or the QC’s don’t know their job) is like complaining Alexander Armstrong is flying a Lancaster.

    Actually, it’s nothing like that. It compares an incidental detail with a fundamental plot point. As you will see.

    Even setting aside that the vast majority of current viewers have no idea what Crown Court was, nor that anyone would confuse a soaps with reality, it is pretty clear that Chibnall has serious limits to his ability to execute. He doesn’t seem to have grasped the fundamental principle of “if you want to break the rules, first you have to know them”. The result was insulting and a waste of fine actors.

    He could have achieved exactly the effect he wanted by taking a real world case – Ian Huntley’s attempted ambush defence – and used that as a template to compelling effect (and it would have echoed the main plot very well). Instead he relied on Stupid Because The Plot Requires It.

    No matter how fast-and-loose (or not) you want to play with procedure (and nobody expects documentary standards – thanks for that straw man), as soon as a writer relies on Plot Demanded Stupidity, the said writer fails. As you will see when you watch it.

    Either way, justifying rank poor writing by asserting “it doesn’t need to be realistic because Crown Court and Lancasters” is actually a pretty feeble defence.

     

    #38413
    ScaryB @scaryb

    @Purofilion You pipped me to the post!

    @pedant So, not a fan of Broadchurch :)

    😆

    @ichabod @bluesqueakpip

    If you didn’t like S1, you won’t like S2. I loved the layers in the characters, the details in the pacing and the fact that even the leads aren’t always likeable or right in what they do. And they’re all driven by grief and a sense of betrayal (not all of it sexual, there are many different betrayals), and of everything they took for granted being challenged/shattered. How do you come back from that?

    I disagree (obv) that it’s poor writing, tho I’m happy to concede (as in my review above) that it has its clunky bits. Just that the character development and interaction are the central driving forces and it worked for me.  And as in Buffy S7 I can forgive its mis-steps for what it delivered in the finale.

    #38415
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @pedant– As someone who can quite reasonably be accused of occasional snippiness, can I just say, abrasive much? Not sure there’s a need for quite that level of ‘tude. @bluesqueakpip does, after all, have a reasonable point to make and makes it well, and doesn’t really deserve that kind of snark.

    RE. Broadchurch, I think I’m kind of in the middle in my attitude towards it. I found the first series on reflection good but not great. It was a nice, compulsive bit of telly but still a million miles away from the quality that La Plante or McGovern would have brought to the same material. I think part of the kicking that Broadchurch 2 got was partly a retroactive realisation of that.

    I agree with @bluesqueakpip that absolute verisimilitude in courtroom scenes is not necessary and it’s perfectly acceptable to play a bit fast and loose with legal procedure in the service of the plot. But it still has to maintain the appearance of verisimilitude at least. If we’re torn out of the drama by ‘yes, buts’ and ‘hey, wait a minutes’ then it’s failed as drama. Things like should the pilot have been in a Lancaster or a Halifax are mere nitpicking and pedantry and can be overlooked by any sane person. But if he’d been flying a, say, Sopwith Camel then we’d quite rightly have to take issue with it. And like @pedant I found the handling of the courtroom stuff in BC2 far too sloppy and very much the epitome of bad writing. And in an age when really not nearly enough TV drama is being made in the UK, there’s no really no excuse for this kind of amateur behaviour.

    Not that Chibnall has an excuse anyway. He worked long enough on Law and Order that he really should know this stuff. It seemed to me that he did and just crossed his fingers and hoped he’d get away with it. It’s not that he’s a bad writer. He’s good at certain things, such as dialogue certain aspects of character. But he is limited. And worse, he is lazy. His work on Who and Torchwood exposes it the most. He wants the big pay-offs, the ‘hey that’s really cool’ moments but he doesn’t put the groundwork in that makes those moments. (This Buffy talk of the moment is actually handy, as Whedon is the textbook example of someone who gets this, will always put in the work, even if it takes years sometimes and knowing that it will then have the power to tear your heart out.)

    Chibnall doesn’t understand this. He probably watches the work of the likes of Whedon, Chase, Gilligan etc and wants to emulate it but he can’t be arsed putting in the graft. He just wants to cut to the chase, get to the cool stuff. And he short-fuses the emotion as a result. It’s a bit like being expected to shed tears for a hard-luck story you’ve just heard from some stranger in a bar.

    I get the feeling that BC2 suffers a bit from Matrix syndrome in any case, with it being a sequel where there wasn’t really any good narrative reason for one. BC1 was a nice little series and a pleasant surprise, if for no other reason than Chibnall managed to remain consistent throughout. But it really didn’t need a follow-up. It was always going to be that bit too phoney and contrived to really work. If leaving loose ends is a dramatic no-no, then how much worse is unravelling previously tied ends just to satisfy the suits who want to milk a surprise hit?

    However, based on @scaryb‘s review above, I think I’m going to give it another go.

    #38417

    @scaryb

    Huge fan of Broadchurch. Really dislike Broadchurch 2 because it pissed away the strengths of the first one on a horribly mis-conceved courtroom drama. It isn’t (and never was) about realism vs fantasy, but about credibility vs absurdity. And the finale, for its genuine virtues, didn’t save it because time wasted in court meant no time to get to know the victims, other than one was pretty and 19 and the other was her kid sister.

    I’m not sure I’d call Chibnall lazy (although that’s because I don’t really like that being applied to writers) but he does show signs of ill-discipline. He has the Grand Design, but when he discovers he can’t fit it into the episode length he doesn’t seem to know how to prioritise. Moffat is the master of this, save a few misfires. Chibnall needs to study him more.

    He got away with it in Broadchurch because he didn’t lose sight of what the story was about. But in B2 he didn’t seem to know and just threw a load of plot at the wall – in fact it pretty much reeked of “How to set up the third part of a the trilogy”.

    #38418
    Anonymous @

    @bluesqueakpip @scaryb @jimthefish

    interesting conversation. In Oz we tend to beat up a series so that when it finally arrives, it’s only 3 or 4 weeks long. Leaves one gasping for more. I expected a short series with B’church 1 and so found its interminable length and repetition annoying. In the end I watched it while ironing or baking a 6 layered cake! Always good to have telly for such chores.

    On B2, I was quite impressed with the 2nd episode (I refer to Ms Rampling again) as I found Tennant’s character quite the controlling, high functioning one? “Do this and just don’t be arsed asking, OK?” The final act was a tad predictable. I also noticed the court room ‘mistakes’ -have they used a gavel yet? I always find it interesting when people in Oz courts think we’re going to hear a gavel go bang bang! As for the witnesses, boy-oh-boy.

    Chris Chibnall is it? I recognise his writing from Doctor Who but I’m not aware of the episodes he wrote. Nor did I realise he’s credited for some of Torchwood. Still, any T’wood was ironing time so I would have missed any credits.

    On the Buffy subject, at least 10 pages of the comments were probably mine @pedant  -oops. Still, I’m doing a rewatch of S2 now and enjoyed Lie to Me and particularly the middle block of episodes from Surprise to Passion.

    Angelus is quite the cruel torturer isn’t he? Toying with Buffy, her friends (I suspect he would have killed Joyce had Willow?buffy not completed the spell in time and intervened when Joyce arrived home) and setting up Jenny’s death in such a vile way -roses, candles on every step, champagne and the inevitable crayon ‘art’. What a bloodless individual.

    I have no doubt that Spike and Dru, “laying waste to Europe,” were every bit as awful and yet Giles eventually trusts Angel by the end of S3 -a trust never similarly bestowed on Spike. Again I understand that redemption must be earned by both characters. Though was Angel redeemed sufficiently -considering the relatively recent and personal nature of his heinous crimes?

    I’m assuming that this issue is touched on in Angel S2 -still hovering near the middle of that season, at the mo.

    “The classic example for AG Who is, of course, Series 5” Totally agree @bluesqueakpip

    @ichabod Ah, Silk: actually I enjoyed it. S1  -not so much the other two. I like Peake in anything she does and eye-patch lady from Doctor Who -Francis Barber, I think? She may not have had much screen time…Still, Australia produces very little that’s worth watching. Mainly it’s some apprentice knock-off, several cooking ‘dramas’ where bitchy  couples botch the stock or renovation competitions. Not quite Grand Designs! The political front is somewhat better -and it’s what I like anyway.

    Now, carnography? Is it related to ‘carnal’? No?

    #38420

    @purofilion

    The critical difference between Angel and Spike is that, once ensouled Angel was immediately and totally plagued by guilt and the need to atone and spent 100 years as such before Whislter offered him a path to redemption.

    Spike never was. He was arrogant and even once he knew he had don’t wrong didn’t especially care.He still revelled in his bad-boy persona.

    Also, I think it is a bit strong to say that Giles trusts Angel – I doubt he ever would – but he trusted (eventually) his Slayer, even when disappointed in her.

    And then she died. And came back, broken (well, duh).  And Spike exploited that brokenness. If somebody exploited my surrogate daughter I might be a tad ill-dispossed towards him.

     

    #38421
    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion  — “Carnography” is a term coined by somebody a decade or more ago, using the root “car” as flesh or meat — chile con carne — and it was used to mean something similar to “pornography”, only about flesh/blood/innards etc. spilling out all over the screen (it was used specifically about movies like “Texas Chainsaw massacre”).  Making artful arrangements of dismembered corpses (the famous “iris” from Hannibal) strikes me as a perfect example.  And I can’t see any redeeming value whatever to this kind of ick, except for viewers who like the extremely grotesque in their stories.  I have no problem with that on the printed page (I just skim, usually, because it’s basically boring to me, like extended descriptions of fights and battles), but in visual programming I hate it.  I’m not nightmare prone, but given a strong enough visual cue that sticks in my memory, I am likely to have very bad dreams — and my dreams are way too important to me to be sacrificed on the altar of cheap (or even expensive) thrills.

    #38423
    ichabod @ichabod

    @IAmNotAFish — Agree on charging writers (particularly of book or screen fiction) with “laziness”; we aren’t.  Sloppy, yeah, sometimes, in our haste to meet deadlines or get the god damned thing Off The Desk For God’s Sake It’s Been Over a Year, etc.  But unless you are a writer with independent means, or a writer heaping up one huge best-seller after another, “lazy” is not much of an option in today’s marketplace.  And even “hacks” (definitions vary) are usually too proud of their work — its effectiveness, if not its artfulness — to be “lazy” with it.  For the most part, almost all we have is our pride, when indeed we can afford to have that.

    The crappy “second act” seems to be a problem in many art forms, usually arising from either sequelitis — just keep spinning any thread you can tease out of the foregoing volumes/movies until people stop paying — or padding a story’s middle to keep the end from happening when sound dramatic structure says it should.  Dullness in the (unnecessary) middle is the almost inevitable result of the latter, a tailing off of quality of the former.  Happens all the time — money talking, mostly, shoving artistic judgment (assuming some is on hand) aside.

    #38424
    Anonymous @

    @pedant Ok, I thought Giles did trust Angel -but perhaps trust isn’t the correct word.  Yes, I notice Spike never attempted to atone for his deeds. Part of this was being caught up in the a) 2 eps ‘training’ the fledglings b) staying clear of the scoobs c) fighting the occasional demon/vamp. He wasn’t especially sorry for murdering (and toying with) Robin’s mother, either.

    I suppose, as I’ve mentioned up thread, that despite the fact Spike had no time for amends, the reprise: “he has a soul, now” got old quick.

    Lured into thinking Angel is completely trustworthy the first time, then stunned by his ‘regression’ (and his renewal), it’s easy -and foolish-  to expect Spike to follow the same development. It was only in Angel S2 that I saw Angel attempting a change of ‘heart’, living off sewer rats (apparently) to avoid further murder -this angered Drusilla immensely. Joss even argued that Spike was sensitive, showing kindness and compassion around both Joyce and Dawn -I’d agree with  the latter. He did like Joyce and she seemed to get on reasonably well with the guy -not knowing who or what he really was. As for sensitive? Sensitive how? Pandering to Drusilla’s every insane need?

    As far as the Bad Boy Drama, I’ve known so many of those types who eternally convince women (who are very different from these monomaniacal types) that they are really, “dark. Creatures of the night -like me. Come on, give it try, you might surprise yourself.” Condemned to living a sub- normal life, they inflict these tendencies on others -usually people in Buffy’s position: vulnerable and lost.

    #38429
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @pedant

    You’re confusing missing your point with finding it risible.

    Not really. If you find my point risible, then you’ve probably either genuinely misunderstood it – or suspect you’re about to lose the argument and are trying to make your opponent angry by insulting them. 😀

    Even setting aside that the vast majority of current viewers have no idea what Crown Court was

    Which is why it was merely the first in a list of police/court procedurals. Bit of a selective misquote, that one.

    He doesn’t seem to have grasped the fundamental principle of “if you want to break the rules, first you have to know them”.

    Hmm. I’m not entirely sure you’ve grasped the fundamental principle of ‘doing research’. As it happens, I’ve seen a lot of Chris Chibnall’s work. I would rate his Who and Torchwood work as his weakest – he’s not Moffat. But then, very few people are (and they probably have the first name ‘Steven’). But I would hesitate to say that a TV writer and playwright with fourteen years of professionally produced experience doesn’t know the rules.

    I’d also hesitate to say that the writer and producer of the first series of Law and Order: UK doesn’t have a decent working knowledge of court procedure, police procedure and the British legal system. They may then choose to break those rules for dramatic effect, but whether or not that works isn’t the same as ‘they don’t know the rules’.

    He could have achieved exactly the effect he wanted by taking a real world case…

    And if that’s not the story he wants to tell?

    No matter how fast-and-loose (or not) you want to play with procedure (and nobody expects documentary standards – thanks for that straw man

    Again, the idea that nobody expects documentary standards seems to rely on a lack of research. One of the most frequent criticisms of the first couple of episodes of Broadchurch 2 was that Chibnall was making a lot of ‘mistakes’ in basic court procedure. If that’s a straw man, it’s one that got popped on top of the bonfire and was blazing merrily away.

    justifying rank poor writing

    I’ll make my own mind up on that one. So far, you’ve said poor writing, @scaryb has said ‘generally good, but clunky in parts’ – and other people whose opinion I trust also liked Broadchurch 2. So I’ll have to see.

    #38430
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish

    But if he’d been flying a, say, Sopwith Camel then we’d quite rightly have to take issue with it.

    Yes. True. If he’d been flying a Sopwith Camel, we’d definitely have to have taken issue. If, however, he’d been a fighter pilot with a Gloucester Gladiator, there wouldn’t have been a problem. Or an RN pilot with a Fairey Swordfish. 😉

    I love real life – it’s so much messier than fiction. 😈

    If you ask me, I think the Whovian equivalent to the courtroom procedural problem is the Baby Moon Dragon.

    #38431
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @purofilion — let’s not forget that Angel also tried ignore his soul and ‘stay evil’ and with Darla in Angel s2 before he was forced to confront his new state. Also the situation of Spike’s ensoulment is somewhat different. It’s a reward rather than a punishment. Whether it’s a deserved reward is open to question. But that’s undoubtedly going to affect how they perceive their new state.

    It’s probably also worth pointing out the nature of Spike’s ensoulment and how he feels about it is one of the themes of Angel s5, especially in comparison to Angel.

    @ichabod — I’m  standing by calling Chibnall lazy but it’s not in the sense of not putting in the work hours. He’s been a very prolific writer and is probably one of the more high-profile writers in UK TV drama and you don’t get that by any other way than many, many hours pounding the laptop. But I’d argue he doesn’t put the work into his structure, or perhaps his pacing might be a better word. He’s in too much of a hurry to get to the punchline, lets his excitement with the big set pieces get the better of him. Most of his Who and Torchwood episodes are overloaded at the back end with the foundations cursory and elided. I find it hard to believe he doesn’t realise this and get the impression that he’s just hoping to blag it a lot of the the time. Thus we get badly conceived courtroom scenes that he in all likelihood knew needed a bit more work but which were steamrollered through anyway. I call that lazy.

    I think the main flaw with BC2 is that he didn’t have as firm a handle on what he wanted to say compared to the first series.

    #38432
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip

    If you ask me, I think the Whovian equivalent to the courtroom procedural problem is the Baby Moon Dragon.

    Very true. To be honest, I wasn’t clasping my brow in outrage at the courtroom stuff but it did jolt me out of the action enough that the show ceased to be appointment viewing for me. I think the main problem was that it was unnecessary and disappointing. Chibnall is, as you say, a veteran by this stage and has a veritable track record in crime procedurals. He must have known he was flying by the seat of his pants in BC2 and to not be bothered to sit down and tweak the story to fix that seems to me cavalier and disrespectful to the audience. Old school script editors of the Bob Holmes variety would have made sure something like this would have been addressed, I suspect.

    #38433
    Anonymous @

    @jimthefish

    Mm. Spike and the reward; received following a set of  trials. Like The Magic Flute but without the ‘buffa’. His quest was for himself -and then to offer himself, ensouled to Buffy. Not straightaway. I’m assuming he wanted this kept secret but the propinquity of the Hellmouth caused an early shriving in the Church –  the scene which @pedant suggests was penned differently to what the audience eventually saw, I think

    @ichabod thank you for that definition: I would agree. And our dreams are too precious to be taken over by the mundane ‘evils’ of bad TV

    #38435

    @bluesqueakpip

    Not really. If you find my point risible, then you’ve probably either genuinely misunderstood it – or suspect you’re about to lose the argument and are trying to make your opponent angry by insulting them.

    Or you have expressed with no conviction or clarity. I love it when you come over all teachery 🙂 but narrowing the argument down to something you can defend, rather than what the debate is ain’t winning in any but the most pointless sense.

    Bit of a selective misquote, that one. ..Law & Order: UK

    Well, you’d know all about selectivity. See above 😉 If you don’t want your choice of citations queried, the solution is in your own hand. L&A:UK adapted the original US stories and works to a tight formula (and despite a very good cast has never worked as effectively as the US version for exactly that reason). Anyway, argument from authority doesn’t cut it, because:

    Hmm. I’m not entirely sure you’ve grasped the fundamental principle of ‘doing research’.

    He showed no real signs of having done it (I know writers aren’t supposed to show off their research, but absurdity shows of its absence).

    Not that this is, in any way the point, because

    producer of the first series of Law and Order: UK doesn’t have a decent working knowledge of court procedure, police procedure and the British legal system.

    I was talking about the rules of storytelling. That thing about ‘narrowing down’? Right there. As I said to @scaryb it was not about accurate/ inaccurate (that was your invention) but about credible/ absurd. The choices he made created absurdity and utterly shattered willing suspension of disbelief.

    Two hot-shot QCs (one called out of retirement to emphasise her hot-shotness (also impossible, but dramatically quite acceptable)) became complete bibbling imbeciles, guided by a bibbling imbecile judge because Chibnall didn’t show the chops to find a more convincing way of making the point he wanted to make (which he has spoken about – really not guessing here).

    The quote myself from when the episode first aired: ‘A handy exercise in “If, in order to get from  A to B, you need to rely in Plot Required Stupidity rather than behaviour emanating believably from established character, it is a sign that you need to rethink the plot.”’

    (In the movie Fury there is an utterly gripping (in the grip your armrest sense) battle between a Sherman tank and a Tiger. The Sherman is trying to get behind the Tiger because that is the weak spot. Except that idea is lifted from Kelly’s Heroes – the actual weak spot of a Tiger was at the side. The entire battle rests on a fiction. But it didn’t matter because it made for compelling action and the cast, directors and everyone else had earned the right to it.

    Curiously, much later on there is a scene with a sniper which rested on a very accurate depiction, rather than the ‘Hollywood headshot’ – that scene drew more complaints because people have become so used to the filmic notion of the perfect sniper.

    ‘Written from truth’ does not mean documentary accuracy, but it does mean don’t create absurdity. That is where Chibnall failed)

    #38437

    @jimthefish

    Old school script editors of the Bob Holmes variety would have made sure something like this would have been addressed, I suspect.

    That’s a very interesting point. Did BC2 have the same editorial team as the original?

    Iain M Banks’s later SF became borderline unreadable because he changed editors to one without the balls to say “Er, Iain mate, reel it in a bit!” (this comes from a very good source).

    #38438

    @purofilion

     I’m assuming he wanted this kept secret but the propinquity of the Hellmouth caused an early shriving in the Church –  the scene which pedant suggests was penned differently to what the audience eventually saw, I think

    The reveal was at the same point, but the scene was less conspicuously poetic (despite alluding directly to William’s poetry) with Buffy more sceptical and Spike more self-pitying. Loath as I am to credit Petrie, I think he had a firmer grasp of where the characters were, while Joss had a firmer gasp of the Internet Noise Machine.

    But compared the the gear-crunching clunkiness at the end of Sleeper, then of First Date, the revisions to Beneath You were Chaucerian.

    #38439
    ichabod @ichabod

    @IAmNotAFish: Many writers who hit it big then start a downward slide because nobody dares to edit them any more — first because publishers no long approve of editors actually editing (costs money, if the editor is worth a damn), and secondly because nobody know exactly *why* this piece of drek or that magnificent gem of a book becomes a best seller and you don’t want some underpaid youngster to edit out exactly what it is that the public is responding so wildly to, and thirdly because (sometimes) your successful author has a swelled head from all that success and gets huffy about editing suggestions, and God forbid they *leave* and go to the competition.  It’s a kind of perfect storm of go-to-hell-in-a-handcart thing: all the winds are blowing from a bad direction.

    #38442
    Anonymous @

    @pedant I liked Sleeper but it finished -or seemed to resolve – too quickly. As if, “hellmouth, we’ve got 5 mins left, let’s wrap it up”. DB claimed he was in the ‘shed’ with the crosses filming takes for four days. And how did Buffy find it anyway?

    As for First Date -not a fav ep, but then I’m doing a re-watch. I’m on Go Fish which I didn’t like the first time – but the lines are awesome -not Chaucerian, I’ll admit; more Abbot and Costello.

     

    #38443
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @pedant

    Or you have expressed with no conviction or clarity.

    In what way would that be? Sorry, but if my argument ‘lacks clarity’ the onus is on you to explain exactly why other people can understand it. Otherwise you are simply using debate tricks.

    I love it when you come over all teachery 🙂

    Another debate trick.

    but narrowing the argument down to something you can defend, rather than what the debate is ain’t winning in any but the most pointless sense.

    And another one.

    Well, you’d know all about selectivity.

    Now, what could that be … oh, let me think for a moment. Yes, it’s another debate trick.

    that was your invention

    No, that was the discussion between myself and @scaryb that you replied to. It’s also another debate trick.

    Right, so – in the list of debate tricks (rather than actual debate). Your reply to my argument includes:
    My argument is risible. My argument is teachery. My argument uses straw men (previous post). My argument uses selective quotation. My argument has been narrowed down. Oh, and I’m inventing stuff. Apparently I also used argument from authority.

    I’m not even going into the attempt to divert to irrelevant side issues. 🙄

    This isn’t good enough, pedant. It really isn’t. I was having a discussion about realism, and the way Chibnall may have signalled that he’s not being entirely realistic. I have said, very clearly, that I haven’t yet been able to see the show. I also said that your reply might have missed the point I was trying to make – which was that if a writer has signalled that he’s not sticking to exact realism, then complaints based a lack of factual realism are a bit moot.

    And in a forum where the debate is expected to be polite (if often robust), you try to win by accusing me of every debating sin in the book. While, I might add, committing quite a few of them yourself.

    Not good enough.

    #38444
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @pedant — I’m not sure with regards to the BC production teams. But I suspect ITV were so wowed by having such a surprise hit that they just let Chibnall have his lead with no one there to rein him in. A quick look on IMDB seems to suggest that BC1 has script editors/supervisors but that there are no similar roles on BC2. But then again IMDB is not exactly the most reliable source.

    It seems that part of the problem that shows like Who and Broadchurch are stuck in this halfway house between the old British method of production of producer>script editor>writer being replaced by the US showrunner model, while not understanding the importance and necessity of the writers’ room and the checks and balances that a core of staff writers and execs have on the showrunner himself. (Whedon again being a good case in point. While the man’s undoubtedly talented, the input of Noxon/Espenson/Greenwalt/Fury/Minear, hell, even Petrie, can in no way be discounted.) And a US writers’ room seems to be a merciless sort of place and in the good ones anyway no one is untouchable. Don’t know if you’ve read it but Inside the Writers’ Room by Christina Kallas is an interesting read on this and has contributions by Espenson.

    So we have showrunners but not the institutional mechanism that ensures quality control. It’s interesting that Moffat insists he still gets notes but you have to wonder how seriously he actually has to take them — bearing in mind the amount of producers he goes through. I suspect that for BC2 no one was giving Chibnall notes at all, or at least not on the finer points of dramatic structure.

    #38445
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish

    But then again IMDB is not exactly the most reliable source.

    To put it mildly. I’m pretty sure Chris Chibnall has mentioned working with Sam Hoyle when they were storyboarding S2 – but IMDB only has him down as 2013. So it might be that they simply didn’t update the returning crew.

    You’ve got a point about going to the US showrunner without having the writer’s room on board; but British TV has traditionally been much more keen on writer-led TV than the US was. The US model was producer-led TV (and the producer might or might not be a writer). British TV series often did come directly from a writer’s pitch, and the writer would then write the entire series.

    #38446
    ichabod @ichabod

    @jimthefish  As someone who has from time to time erred in a similar fashion, let me put another name to the problem: Impatience.  The rush to get *through*, escape, move on.  Mind you, that’s *my version of this problem*; doesn’t mean it’s Chibnail’s, so “laziness” sure isn’t subject to a veto by me.*  That’s what vocabulary is for — drawing distinctions, fine or otherwise.

    *Part of my recoil from this word, “laziness”, is that I’ve seen it used so often as a catch-all condemnation for many kinds of failures, without (it seems to me) nearly enough consideration of what *else* might be going on, alongside of, instead of, or causally.  To take an extreme example, the kids who used to be charged with “laziness” for dozing off in class, many of whom turned out to have simply had no breakfast, for one reason or another.  That sort of thing is *very* common in the US as part of the standard Reactionary response to failures due more to class (or other) inequities than personal fault, ergo punish, don’t help.  I think that’s how the word’s been tainted for me, at any rate.

    #38447
    ScaryB @scaryb

    Wow! I do seem to have touched a nerve with my original post about Broadchurch 2 🙂 Thanks for all the contributions to the debate everyone. But yes, please let’s keep it civil (but still robust!). It’s why this Forum is so special.

    @pedant

    But in B2 he didn’t seem to know and just threw a load of plot at the wall – in fact it pretty much reeked of “How to set up the third part of a the trilogy”.

    @jimthefish made a similar point

    I think the main flaw with BC2 is that he didn’t have as firm a handle on what he wanted to say compared to the first series.

    I disagree quite strongly with both of you, while not disagreeing that BC1 was intended as a one off, so BC2 wasn’t created as an organic follow-up. That created the problem that things that looked to have been tied up had to be loosened a bit. However I think Chibnall was quite clear about the story he wanted to tell – but it’s not the one that most people seem to think, hence the criticism.

    For me it’s not really about the trial or the Sandbrook case at all, so it doesn’t matter that we are not particularly invested in the victims of that case. It’s about the divisive effects 1 person’s actions can have on a small comunity, and how badly people function when they are isolated and lonely, about how grief and betrayal make them push other people away, even when they most need help and support. It’s about how, however much we like to think we can live “compartmentalised” independent lives we are all interconnected and stronger when we recognise that and embrace our flaws and the fact that we can’t do everything alone, no matter how strong we think we are.

    BC2 picks up on the state of the characters at the end of BC1 and continues their emotional journeys.  I like the fact that both Miller and Hardy in particular are flawed, ordinary (forced to deal with extraordinary circumstances) and make bad “shout at the screen they are being so stupid” mistakes – and they have to pay for these in BC2. With the QCs we have back stories which explain a lot of how they are in court, but I wouldn’t disagree that these don’t get quite enough screen time (in fact I alluded to it in my initial review, while avoiding too much detail so as not to be spoilery).

    Far from setting up BC3 I think BC2 actually ties up a lot of (emotional) ends and gives the characters a much better resolution than they had at the end of BC1. And yes I know there’s been reports of BC3 being commissioned. Interesting points about editors and US type writers rooms, which I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with, but it depends on the quality of the people involved.  Drama in particular also needs time to be developed properly, as well as talent, and I suspect that is something which is at a premium in modern TV writing. And yes, the drive to milk a successful series isn’t usually the best motivation for creating a follow up.

    @bluesqueakpip mentioned Baby Moon Dragons, which was one of the things I was coming back to say – that and golden arrows 😉

    At the end of the day, a story either appeals or it doesn’t. For me both series of Broadchurch resonated strongly, I was invested in the characters and wanted to follow their journeys. The “whodunnit” and “will he get off” aspects of it were secondary for me, therefore the court setups didn’t impinge on my enjoyment or annoy me the way they obviously did others. For me that wasn’t the story that was being told.

    @jimthefish You mentioned that Chibnall isn’t McGovern – fair enough, but very very few writers are. (What’s McGovern up to these days anyway?)

    Talking of other writers, what BC does bring to mind for me is JB Priestly’s An Inspector Calls, a play which has drawn flack for being “bourgeois drawing room drama” when in fact it’s dealing with a completely different type of “realism”.

     

     

     

     

    #38448
    ScaryB @scaryb

    Apologies for the long post above!  Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read it!

    @ichabod I agree with you. I’d put “lazy” along with “sloppy” and “deus ex machina” (*waves cheerily to @bluesqueakpip*) as terms of criticism that have been so overused (not to say lazily used 😉 ) as to be meaningless and best avoided.

    I also liked your earlier post about editors, though I disagree that a good editor should focus on what made the previous book (or whatever) successful. That’s not the way to create quality. Good editors need a deep understanding of the writer they are editing, and of what they are trying to say. At its best it should be symbiotic and good writers will recognise and value that (however grudgingly, haha).

    The other thing about creativity which is massively undervalued in these days of ratings driven commissions is the value of the right to fail. I know @jimthefish and @bluesqueakpip in particular have both touched on this in previous discussions. And it goes back to my earlier comment about things needing the time to be developed properly, before they are brought out into the spotlight.

    #38449
    ichabod @ichabod

    @purofilion  “Carnography” — you’re welcome.  I should add, in fairness, that “Hannibal” has a sizable following of people who find it deliciously thrilling (they say), classy in its acting and production, clever as all get out in a satirical sort of way.  I say it’s spinach, and I say the Hell with it, but that’s just me . . .

    #38450
    ichabod @ichabod

    ScaryB  Oh, I wasn’t talking about editors encouraging writers to do what they already do well (although that does happen, sometimes, and helps to trap some authors in a pattern of work that they are desperate to get out of  — like an SF author trying to sell a non-SF detective story).  I meant that most authors and their editors really do not know precisely what it is that the author is doing that’s making *her* spy story sell at 5 times the rate of every other new spy story out there — so you don’t want an inexperienced or new editor to go through this author’s latest Mss. red-lining something the editor thinks needs tightening up, say, when it’s just that type of discursiveness that draws the majority of fans to that author’s work. Like, oh, somebody deleting Terry Pratchett’s comical footnotes, for example, and making Lord Vetinari more iron fist and less velvet glove . . .

     

    #38451
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @bluesqueakpip

    The US model was producer-led TV (and the producer might or might not be a writer). British TV series often did come directly from a writer’s pitch, and the writer would then write the entire series.

    Absolutely. And this really only worked in the UK with series that had a run of  six or seven episodes. Now runs are longer (as a general rule, there are exceptions both now and back in the day) and more of the writing work is spread out. Another issue is that the process originates much more from the commissioning editor these days, rather than the writer coming into pitch (although that still does happen). A lot of the shows we see at the moment have been commissioned based on an observation of the market, rather than a writer coming in with a vision and a story she wants to tell. Thus The Hour is the Beeb wanting something a bit Mad Men-ey, Peaky Blinders, a bit Boardwalk Empire-ey. I’ve no doubt within one or two years we’ll see a couple of series that are a bit like British versions of Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad.

    The problem with this is that the genuinely original voices/ideas have a much more uphill struggle. In The Flesh, The Fades and Ripper Street are all recent examples of shows that deserved a bit more nourishing than they actually received because of a management who are more comfortable backing what they feel are shows they can get a handle on because they can see other things out there like them. I always wonder just how would Dennis Potter fare on TV if he were just an emerging writer now. Would he even get a shot at anything? I suspect not.

    But the writing is definitely the key. You still occasionally see the attitude (didn’t we have someone who briefly showed up here who had it?) that American TV equals poor quality. That stems from the days when it was dominated by producers who weren’t writers but businessmen/raconteurs. The Aaron Spellings, Donald Bellisarios and Quinn Martins of the world. It was only when the likes of Whedon, Chris Carter and later David Simon, David Chase, Aaron Sorkin, Alan Ball etc  gained that sort of commissioning power that we saw the emergence of the current ‘golden age’ of US TV drama. (This is all a tad simplistic and doesn’t take account of the intermediate influence the likes of Stephen Cannell and Steve Bochco also had, so apologies for that).

    The true irony here, I suppose, is that as the UK becomes mired in TV drama commissioning being increasingly beholden to a non-writer layer of executive management and is stagnating as a result, the US has been freeing itself from those constraints and is flourishing as a result. The other problem with regards to the ‘room to fail’ problem mentioned by @scaryb above is that there are just not enough TV shows being made in the UK at the moment to allow emerging writers to cut their teeth, learn by their mistakes and so on. Even 10 years ago, there were many more soaps and continuing dramas that would allow new writers in — from the Royal to The Bill to all kinds of little one-offs. Time was when the likes of Doctors would happily give new writers a try-out, now that’s as ring-fenced for established agented writers as flagships like EastEnders are.

    The loss of production in the regions is another problem. Until the mid to late 80s — when the more or less, erm, heavily coerced outsourcing to independent prodcos kicked in — regional TV networks all had their drama output which meant a) jobs for writers b) a larger and more diverse cultural portfolio of drama output than we get now.

    @scaryb — McGovern’s new series Banished is about to hit the screens. It’s an odd one — set around the transportation of cons to Australia in the 18th century. And it will be interesting to see him tackle something not based around gritty social realism. (Although part of me wonders if that is just him rolling with the prevailing trends at a currently incredibly politically supine BBC. I find it fascinating that given the times we’re living in, you find almost nothing set in the present day that isn’t a crime or relationships drama. Certainly nothing that has the slightest whiff of social comment about it. And I can’t believe there aren’t writers out there who wouldn’t jump at the chance to tackle this kind of subject matter.

     

    #38452
    janetteB @janetteb

    @jimthefish and @scaryb. I am really looking forward to Banished and I expect it to be very political indeed. It is not surprising however that McGovern would choose to dip into history in order to be able to express political ideas. History like Sci fi and fantasy can present controversial ideas by default. As for gritty the first fleet and early days of settlement is probably about as “gritty” as it can get. (One of my favourite TV series is an 1980s ABC adaptation of a series of books which I basically used as reference books in Yr 12 Aus’ history covering much of the same turf. I hope this series goes into the politics of the early settlement too. It all got very corrupt.)

    I agree about the crime and relationship dramas. Not being a crime drama or kitchen sink relationship drama fan I find very little that appeals in the current crop of TV dramas. Luckily I am not one of those people that can only watch something once. I am currently re’watching “Our Friends in the North”. (With some Doctor Who for light relief)

    Cheers

    Janette

    #38453
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @janetteb

    It is not surprising however that McGovern would choose to dip into history in order to be able to express political ideas. History like Sci fi and fantasy can present controversial ideas by default.

    True, but it can also take the sting out of them. People can turn around and say ‘yes, that was awful, but it was a long time ago and we’ve moved on’. It might not be true, but it does give them a ‘get out of jail free’ card in a way that say a drama about a foodbank wouldn’t. This, I suspect, is why the schedules are choc full of things like Call the Midwife, Peaky Blinders etc. Nice and safe and not upsetting anyone in power — say, anyone who might decide that the licence fee is past its sell-by date.

    I’m not convinced that McGovern wouldn’t prefer to be writing something more current, but bearing in mind that his last project got buried in the daytime slot, I do suspect he’s going down the historical route because he realises it’s the only way he’s going to get something on prime-time in the current cultural climate.

    Having said that, it’s going to be interesting to see him tackle something like this and I’m sure he’ll bring a hard edge to it. Am I the only one who would be interested in seeing just what he would do with an episode of Who?

    #38454
    Anonymous @

    @janetteb you referred to a 1980s TV series? which one?

    Banished? Must see, but I haven’t read a thing about it so thx @jimthefish

    As for Oz TV, same problem: drama -‘thrillers’, ditties and romance. Erk.

    In the ’80s we had the formidable Lex Marinos.

    #38455
    Bluesqueakpip @bluesqueakpip

    @jimthefish and @ichabod

    I’d like to add another point to the ‘lazy’ debate. Which is that, very often, the TV writer is neither lazy nor impatient – they just couldn’t get the story perfect in the time they had.

    I can only speak to this from the acting side: the motto of the performing arts is very often ‘I don’t want it brilliant, I want it Tuesday.’ 🙂

    Tuesday is the first night. Tuesday is the read-through. Tuesday is the first day on set. And if your performance (or script) is okay-ish on Tuesday, everyone will heave a huge sigh of relief. Even if you and everyone else knows you could have delivered something better – if only there’d been more time.

    Because on Tuesday, the critics are in, or the crew is waiting and the money clock is ticking.

    Personally, I think this is often the reason for second-season-itis. For the first series, the writer has often been pitching it, thinking about it, tweaking ideas for a long time: until the series finally got greenlit. For the second you’ve got a much more limited time frame – and you haven’t thought about that part of the series as much. So the second series really will get hit by the ‘Tuesday’ rule.

    A lot of viewers can throw ‘lazy’ around because – while they know about deadlines – they don’t always know in their gut how an absolute deadline is going to affect the writer. Especially if they’re either amateur writers, or writers in another genre; where they’re either used to more flexible deadlines or the writing they do is less multi-faceted.

    #38457
    ichabod @ichabod

    @bluesqueakpip  Thanks — a view from close up always helps.  That having had lots of time to dwell on the opening eps/first book in the series etc. must certainly play a part, since so much energy and expectation is packed into getting the thing going in good enough form to make that necessary first impression.  The Tuesday Rule illuminates the issue, and adds to the unlikelihood of any time available to be “lazy” in.

    #38460
    JimTheFish @jimthefish
    Time Lord

    @ichabod and @bluesqueakpip–

    It’s certainly interesting how much of a reaction the L word has prompted. But personally I think I’d still prefer it to ‘incompetent’ which would seem to be the alternative in the particular context of Chibnall and Broadchurch.

    I don’t dispute Pip’s general points or that it can be used incorrectly or as an, erm, lazy label in other contexts.

    However:

    I can only speak to this from the acting side: the motto of the performing arts is very often ‘I don’t want it brilliant, I want it Tuesday.’

    In general, I agree, I think. But I don’t think it applies here. There’s been two years between BC1 and BC2, so it’s not that Chibnall has been racing against unreasonable deadlines. For context, Steven Moffat is producing more episodes of Who in half that time-frame — a show that is logistically more complex than Broadchurch. And most American showrunners are producing even longer runs, albeit under a slightly different system.

    And perhaps a more apt and telling comparison might be with Line of Duty. Both shows are in similar genres, with similar levels of narrative complexity (although I’d be tempted to argue that LoD is slightly more involved than BC). LoD has slightly fewer episodes per season but there is a similar gap in time between both the first and second series and there’s no dodgy narrative developments that require some kind special pleading. And I think that’s largely down to the fact that Jed Mercurio is just a far, far better writer than Chibnall and takes the time to make sure his scripts are relatively sound.

    A lot of viewers can throw ‘lazy’ around because – while they know about deadlines – they don’t always know in their gut how an absolute deadline is going to affect the writer

    At the end of the day, writing is a job. You sign a contract and you deliver a script (or a book or whatever) to the best of your ability. If you think you’re not going to meet a deadline, or that a deadline is going to ‘affect’ you in some way, then you don’t sign the contract. Writers make bad calls, produce lousy plot points, poor characterisation etc. Especially if they’re working on a serious clock — a writer producing an episode of say Emmerdale or Enders has days to produce it, a week maybe, but they’re also working off a beat sheet supplied by storyliners/script editors. It’s probably forgivable if they slip up (although if they do chances are they won’t be given any more work basically). But they should still produce the absolutely best work they can. Same as anyone in any job.

    But as Pip said, Chibnall is hardly a novice at this game anymore. And he was working on what is one of ITV’s big flagship shows, not on a mid-series filler of a run of Law and Order, where he might get away with playing fast and loose with the narrative.. The spotlight was definitely on him — and on ITV/Kudos/etc. He didn’t have the luxury of making mistakes like those in the courtroom sequences. Nor did he have the luxury of ignoring them and hoping for the best, as I agree it’s unlikely that he didn’t realise they were there. What we’re talking about here is not Chibnall taking his show in a direction that I personally didn’t agree with. That would have been fine. You can’t please all the people and all that. What it is about is him not paying enough attention to the fundamentals of his craft. Or worse, not caring about them.

    But I don’t think he was up against any greater pressures than any other writer creating a second series — Mercurio, Abi Morgan etc — all faced similar pressures and they managed to produce quality work. Whether or not it was exactly what people wanted to see is a moot point but I don’t think overall anyone could take exception to the standard of what they wrote. I’m not convinced you could say the same of Chibnall. He might well have had problems with his scripts, he might have felt under pressure but I don’t think the ‘he didn’t have enough time’ defence is going to wash. It’s got something a bit ‘please sir, the dog ate my homework’ about it….

    OK, I didn’t mean that to be quite as long or quite as ranty. Apologies and thanks for reading if you got to the end of it. I’ll get off me soap box now….

    #38461
    ichabod @ichabod

    @jimthefish  Well, you gotta take the soap box for a ranty run every now and then or it’ll curl up and die, won’t it.  Rather not say more about  BC, myself, since I only saw the first season, and not all of that since I didn’t take to it.  Curious to see how the viewership is holding up for this new round.  I should also get it out there, I guess, that I’m not a Tennant fan (nothing wrong with his “Hamlet”, but nothing special either IMO), so that probably has something to do with my disaffection for BC, though frankly what put me off right away was the local cop being allowed to work on the local case involving all her neighbors.  I’ve gotten past worse “poetic license” in other shows that I liked more, though.

    This one — it felt a little like that cop series “D.I. Banks”, where I just couldn’t get hooked into the affect, if there was any (seemed not, to me), so I never cared enough about the characters to stick around.  Just picky, I guess . . .

     

     

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