Unconsciouss Blogging: The Walls of Jericho
Hello again everyone! Jeff here to spread the inner workings of my own mind. To start, if you haven’t read my first Unconsciouss Blogging post, you should at least read the first paragraph to prepare you for the ramblings that will consist of this post. Second, my last post was because of sleep deprivation. This one is more or less alcohol induced.
1:14 AM Central Daylight Savings Time
Now, the point of my logging in to post my thoughts this evening. This ties in a little to the previous post about what makes a movie watchable to the point you can’t turn it off. However, this time I am going to be concentrating on television. I recentlly tried to come up with a blog post about how we might be coming towards the end of a “Golden Age of Television”. In that post I pointed out shows like Weeds, Dexter and Breaking Bad are either coming to an end, or have already ended. I am an avid fan of all three shows, in fact, those three are my favorite shows I have ever seen in any format. I can’t recall any moment in the history of tv that we have had such amazing programming going on all at once. In addition to the afformentioned shows, there are also extremely popular/high quality shows such as; Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy and the Walking Dead. All are great shows in their own right (from what I’ve read/seen, I haven’t seen a whole lot of any of those shows). From what I do know of said shows though, I can’t see them going on for more than another two to three seasons. Their story arches just don’t merit an extended run. All of these shows have a beginning, middle and conclusion that can be forshadowed in the first season or two. And for the sake of the quality of those shows I hope that the writers realize this.
1:20 AM Central Daylight Savings Time
Now, to the point of what made me want to post tonight. There are plenty of (recent) instances where the writers/producers of shows didn’t have a firm grasp of how the story should go from beginning to end from the get go. Great examples are both Lost and Entourage. Those two shows were both amazing at their time of inception. However, both suffered from trying to get too much out of their initial concept. In the case of Entourage, I think that they had a perfect ending to the show done with in season five. Vince sees his career basically ended in the fictional film Smoke Jumpers and his failing to resurect his career. He in the end is bailed out by his best friend E. Vince gets a part in a fictional version of the Great Gatsby directed by Martin Scorcese. This was the perfect time to walk away from the show. Yet the producers felt the need to continue the benign story archs to generate more money. Instead, we see these writers have to overreach their comfort zone and introduce new elements to each character that seem forgein to most of the viewers. In the case of Lost, they had a clear vision of what to do with the first two episodes. They then spun that pilot into a very intriguing story line that had viewers captivated with questions about what each character was hididing in their past. However, instead of slowly answering said questions, they just added more into the equation. So much so, when it came to the series finale, I didn’t know what questions needed answering, and which ones were left for us mere mortals to deduce on our own. In the end of the run of that show, I just found myself unsatisfied. There is so much left to be discovered. This is almost a case of criminal neglience on the part of the show runners.
1:31 AM Central Daylight Savings Time
Of course there are the shows that ended far too soon. Shows that should have been given more of a chance. Ones that just weren’t able to connect with their audience until it was too late. Of the many examples (Deadwood, Arrested Development, Twin Peaks, The Black Donnelleys for example), I have found that the most agregious show ending way before it’s time is Jericho. The overall concept is simple enough. A small town reacts to a nuclear attack on the United States. However, there are so many other clever story lines that the producers added in. The least of which is the history and background of the lead character Jake. He was last seen in the town of Jericho five years before the events of the show. No one in the town (with the exception of maybe his direct family) knows where he went off to. He returens, and is the unlikely leader of this small town trying to deal with the aftermath of a nuclear attack on Denver (and later revealed to be much more of the country). In this basic story, there are several complex characters and back stories that needed to be explored (of which I will not go into to try and avoid spoilers). Not many of which are ones that you wouldn’t expect to see in the everyday life of citizens of a small town (with an exception or two). I think this is the main reason this show needed to run longer than it did. You can’t flesh out the accounts of normal people in two seasons (the approx. run of this program). It’s just not possible. Relationships evolve. People grow. It’s a very basic premise. In fact, it is one that Lost initially started to introduce to us in the pilot, but veered off into another extreme (and another, and another and another). I think that if Jericho came out before Lost, it would have been as popular, if not more than Lost ever was. But Lost trained our minds to expect a major life changing cliffhanger at the end of every episode, instead of growing with these characters. Lost used flashbacks to quickly unveil the background of each of the main characters, where Jericho used small contextitualized dialog to explain things. Jericho trusted (maybe wrongly) that the audience didn’t need the past shown to them to understand what each character was going through. Admittidly, in my initial journey through Jericho, I only watched most of the first season. I am currently going back (on netflix) and rewatching all of the old episodes I’ve seen and eventually venture into the second season. If my opinion changes in the coming days, I will let you all know. But until then, I will continue to champion this as a show that new its boundries, yet tested them every episode. It’s a show that relied on it’s acting to get it through it’s exposition and storyline. And it’s a show that should have been able to tell it’s whole story. Until the day I reach the season two finale, I will know I will hate the fact that I will not ultimatly find out what lies ahead for the people behind the walls of Jericho.