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Friday, April 16, 2010

We've been watching TREME and THE PACIFIC. One thing I find remarkable about the two shows is how strongly they seem to reject anything episodic. Not only are stories not built and resolved within the hour, often it is hard to suss out exactly what the stories are.

I like a show that has a serial arc, but I do want to feel after I've watched an hour of TV that I've been told a story. I like to bite off a piece of story and chew it for a while before I go onto the next piece. I don't like to devour a whole season of a show in a weekend; two a night is about my limit on a DVD set. (Earlier in the year we went through the entire BUFFY box set, more or less two a night. That was fun.) If I compare THE PACIFIC to BAND OF BROTHERS, I feel there was more story in BoB; likewise if I compare TREME to THE WIRE, I feel there was more story in THE WIRE. It seems an odd direction for a channel to move; though given the strong prejudice against anything serial on networks, it probably makes sense for HBO. You definitely won't see shows anything like these on a network, not even with cleaned-up language.

No doubt the shows have rich situations and fleshed-out characters. I love the music in TREME. The combat in THE PACIFIC fascinates me. I'll stick with these shows. But I hope when all is said and done I'll know what story they wanted to tell me.



I LOVE Treme, and I do feel that, emotionally, the story had a beginning, middle and end.

At the risk of sounding artsy-fartsy, Treme feels like a natural extension of New Orleans's literary tradition. Writers like Kate Chopin, Walker Percy, John Kennedy O'Toole, etc., emphasized character and atmosphere over plot. Southern literature is like talking to a Southerner -- colorful and interesting, but they take their sweet time getting to the point. You have to just sit back and enjoy it.

By Blogger Lisa, at 6:09 PM  

I feel exactly the same as you regarding both shows. The Pacific really lost me because of that. It feels more like a very long movie than episodic TV and I don't care for that.

It's one thing I like about Mad Men: each episode is a very satisfying story with plenty to «chew on» even if some people feel nothing happens in that show.

By Blogger Barclay, at 6:26 PM  

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