readerjane: Book Cat (Default)
Do some showrunners do their best work when they're running out of resources?

Spoilers for the end of Bones season 3 )
readerjane: Book Cat (Default)
On Sunday, Hart Hanson tweeted a link to an article by Mary McNamara called Critics Notebook: The side effects of binge television.

What a fascinating essay. McNamara talks about our growing tendency to treat television, a storytelling mode originally designed to be consumed serially, more like a novel format. She goes into the different aims of serial storytelling vs contained stories like a standalone novel, and how, when we take a television show that aired over several years and watch it in a much shorter span, it highlights certain weaknesses. "Binge watching can reveal the unnecessary holes that serialization masks: repetition of plot, inconsistency of character, the absurdity of an overworked conceit."

I agreed with a lot of the things McNamara said, but not this one: "As more people turn to Netflix and other delivery services to "catch up" on series they've missed, the social element of television, that famous water-cooler factor, is the first casualty." Certainly it's fun to experience the way a story unfolds side-by-side with friends, but glugging down our favorite shows in the solitary splendor of our living rooms doesn't preclude sharing.

I recently discovered two bloggers who are both watching through one of my favorite shows, Buffy, for the first time. As far as I can tell it's coincidence that they're nearly in synch. Neither mentions the other in his episode reviews. Both take different approaches: Mark Oshiro has a very informal style. He lets us see his reactions as he feels them, close but not quite as immediate as liveblogging. We hear a lot about Mark O's life as he compares the characters' situations to his own experiences. Mark Field, on the other hand, has closer to a scholarly style. He brings in more historical and psychological references. You can tell Mark F is older. *g*

Both are experiencing an episodic story in a much more compressed format than the viewers who watched the show while it first aired. Both are sharing their experience with a wide fellow-audience. I enjoy both of them immensely.

I find that there are a lot of different ways to experience storytelling. With my very favorite stories, I want multiple modes. I want to watch or read them by myself so I can focus. I want to write about them and read others' reactions. I want to share them with friends and family and enjoy seeing them discover the stories for the first time. I want to create my own transformative works based on the originals. And if the story is currently ongoing, I'll catch up and then I'll be with the rest of the current crowd, waiting impatiently for the next installment in a mode much more similar to the television I grew up with.

It's all good. We experience stories by ourselves, together.

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readerjane

May 2014

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