I haven’t commented on it at all, but we’ve recently watched seasons one and two of In Treatment, a show about therapy. Specifically, the (very long) seasons follow the structure of a therapist’s weeks – with four patients Monday to Thursday, and then his own therapy session on the Friday.
Over the course of the season, then, you get to know the different patients very well and you become quite attached to them. More than that, you become attached to Paul, the therapist. So much so that I now feel a real sense of sadness and loss that I won’t be able to ‘spend time’ with him for a while (or possibly forever unless HBO renews it). I don’t think I could name a character on TV that I’ve liked in this way. While I was totally hooked on Al from Deadwood and thought he was wonderful, I didn’t actually like him per se.
I really like you, Paul. I miss you.
Watching the last episode of season one of Flight of the Conchords today made me realise I’ve developed a very strong expectation that the final episode of a season of a show is important. The FotC episode was not. It was like any other episode. I felt quite disappointed, as if they’d broken some kind of rule.
Which they kind of had, but only a rule of mine. I think that, having watched so many “grand narrative arc” shows like The Wire, Deadwood, and, yes, even Battlestar Galactica, I’ve come to assume that that’s how TV shows are. The episodes build on each other.
But that’s not true of lots of shows. Home Improvement didn’t involve much in the way of progression. The Flintstones didn’t either, really. Nor did The Love Boat. Looking at these shows, I suppose an important commonality is that they’re all “situational” as it sit-com. That said, Friends, a sit-com, did have some degree of larger narrative arc.
Anyway, ultimately I prefer my shows with big ol’ narratives running through them. It’s just what gets me up in the morning.
I’ve spent a while trying to work out what seems to make George Hearst in Deadwood seems quite so objectionable. In fact, I think it fits in rather well with the collectivist stuff I’ve been considering lately. In particular, Hearst is something like an uber-individualist with no interest whatever in anything except his own self-perception (the boy who heard the earth talk) and interest (the “colour”). As such, his character doesn’t fit at all into the effectively collectivist world of the camp of Deadwood, and this is what makes him so hard to take. Especially since I suppose it’s fair to say that the viewer ends up feeling like a member of the camp in a sense, and so a collectivist him or herself.
We just watched the final Bourne Trilogy movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, this evening. One generally striking thing was the contrast between watching a move, and an action movie at that, compared with all the TV series like Deadwood and Big Love we’ve been seeing. The density and urgency of the Bourne movie’s narrative was quite insane compared with the relative sedateness of a multi-season television series.
The other very striking thing about the movie was the way that Jason Bourne is always moving. I think this was most nicely conveyed in a chase sequence, with Bourne chasing an assassin (“asset”). He loses him on a train platform and watches as he escapes on a train. I think that the standard practise in this situation might be to cut to the next seen on a shot of Bourne, static, watching the train. In this case, however, Bourne sets off striding to… somewhere, before the cut is made.
It’s a very nice way of emphasising Bourne’s definiteness, as well as keeping the pacing of the movie itself almost unbearably fast.
The event of Seth Bullock’s brother’s son’s death in Deadwood in the last couple of episodes has given even stronger support for the idea of collectivist values in the show. When the kid dies, it feels as though everyone is upset by it, notably the whores who work in Al’s joint, The Gem. This despite the fact that these whores have never met the kid, his mother, or his father-in-law/uncle.
All of which is pretty neat. There’s something deeply refreshing about a collectivist portrayal of emotions and reactions to events, in which we don’t just see the feelings of the “important central characters.”
It takes a village to mourn a child.