Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness - The Reverse of the Suck Fairy aka Unjumping the Shark

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November 29th, 2011


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03:06 pm - The Reverse of the Suck Fairy aka Unjumping the Shark
I've become used to the fact that most TV pilots are now significantly inferior to later episodes. I remember this sometimes being true in the 80s & 90s, but not so strikingly. However, I'm also used to the fact that if a show doesn't improve by the 2nd or 3rd episode, it's never going to be good. However, I now have two data point that this is not always true. All three of us love The Vampire Diaries, which we started watching around 10, and loved it. We went back and watched the earlier episodes, and in addition to the first episode being almost unwatchable, eps 2-5 were almost as bad, and the show really didn't start actually getting good until episode 8.

Becca and I have also recently started Watching Fringe, starting with the season 4 premiere. It was confusing coming in on the show at that point, but it was also fairly good. We had tried the show when it first came out, and the first three episodes were bad – not as eye-bleedingly terrible as the first eps of The Vampire Diaries, but the Olivia (the protagonist) seemed to exist solely to be clueless and have one of the two men explain things to her, and it looked to be a show where all the weird stuff was entire random. After enjoying Season 4 so far, we went back and started with the beginning of Season 2. We're almost done with that Season, and it's both excellent, and increased our enjoyment of Season 4, since we understand the complexities more.

From what I've seen, most shows improve simply because the actors don't fully understand their characters in the pilot, and once this happens the show comes alive. However, there was more than that going on in both The Vampire Diaries and Fringe, part of it seemed to be that it took the actors longer to truly "get" their characters. However, part of the problem seemed to be structural. Both shows are heavily ensemble shows with a female protagonist, who starts off being entirely clueless about all the weirdness that the show is about. At least with The Vampire Diaries, it was clear that it stopped being ham-handed, ludicrously clichéd, and badly acted very shortly after the female protagonist learned about the existence of the supernatural (which happened in episode 6), and in Fringe, Olivia as an insider who understands what's going on at least as much as the other characters is far more interesting than her being the character who is there to ask questions to provide the audience with exposition.

In any case, now we're wondering what other shows we didn't watch because the first few episodes were terrible.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:mlerules
Date:December 1st, 2011 02:58 am (UTC)
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I've been told by numerous folks that Bab-5 is really good once you wade through the entire first season. Given that I generally watch TV w/others (on DVD) as a social thing, I don't see myself investing the time/energy in Bab-5 to get to the good stuff. (Although I did discover and enjoy Dexter solo, but 'twas good, TMM*, from the git go.)

*TMM = To My Mind, far more accurate 'n' appropriate than IMHO, TMM ;-P

Mebbe I'll wander into Fringe (if'n it's on Netflix InstaView) next time I'm laid up sick (trad'l time for TV-watching ;-)
[User Picture]
From:heron61
Date:December 1st, 2011 10:42 am (UTC)
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I'm enough of an SF fan that I watched B-5 when it first came out - Seasons 2-4 were considerably better than Season 1, but when I rewatched it a few years later, Season 1 looked better (in part because I could see how much they were foreshadowing).

Farscape was similar for me, the first half of season 1 was total fluff, where they were doing episodes clearly based on Star Trek or Star Wars, but once Chiana joined the crew (and the people putting it on realized that they weren't just doing 5 or 6 episodes, but that it was actually popular enough to get a full season) it got really good really fast.

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