eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)
[personal profile] eruthros
Okay, so, there are a lot of things that are done badly on Babylon 5, and I'd never hold up jms as the greatest writer ever. But there's this thing he said once that I keep coming back to when I watch tv: basically, he said, you have to answer questions you raise on your show within a season's worth of episodes. The answer can spark new questions, sure, but you have to actually answer the question, you can't handwave or suggest something and later retract it or answer the question in a completely unhelpful way or otherwise try to keep your options open.

And I think about this when I watch tv in part because I was burned by The X-Files back in the day: I wanted it to make sense so badly, I believed Chris Carter when he said he had a plan, and then... there's another kind of alien we never told you about! Black oil is alien! No wait it's not! What is even going on.

And as a result I'm suspicious about that kind of storytelling; I don't believe show creators when they say they have a plan unless I can actually see it on the screen, I eyeroll when the big revelation is retracted ten episodes later, I get seriously cranky when a show tries to draw out the mystery forever because I will now always suspect that the reason they're doing that is that they don't know the answer either. Or because they can't think of anything else interesting to do. And I wouldn't care so much, except these are always shows that keep pointing to those same damn questions over and over, making it a huge point of their plots.

And that's how I feel about Stephen Moffat right now: he's drawn it out a long fucking time, and it's always the same questions. Who is River Song, no, really? (because saying "she's Amy and Rory's daughter" or "she's the doctor's wife" does not actually answer that question) Who does she kill and how and why does she feel bad about it, no, really? (the best man she's ever known! oh thanks that's so helpful. The doctor, maybe, in the future! Except who believes that they will actually kill the doctor and burn off his regenerations, no one.) Who is the Silence? (And this one really irks me, because they answered it at the beginning of the season! hurrah! ... but then they retracted that answer and now there's a silence army or whatever, argh.) And now we're adding the ultimate question of life the universe and everything on top of all the already-unanswered questions? ARGH.

So every episode of Doctor Who I watch just irks me more and more, just makes me feel more and more like Stephen Moffat is Chris Carter is J.J. Abrams is every other producer/writer/etc who said they had a plan but actually doesn't know how to get from A to B, or is like every other show creator who only has one great concept or one great idea so they have to keep putting off B forever and ever because they have nothing else to do. Never answer the question, just pose more questions; never deal with the consequences, just put everyone in a new situation; never wrap anything up, because omg then viewers might stop watching.

And, I mean, I find the show frustrating for other reasons, I find the misogyny offputting, I keep wanting to reach in and rewrite episodes to shake out the isms, but on top of all that I hit a point several episodes ago where I just can't care about any of the characters or any of the questions anymore. I'm so over waiting for it to make sense.

And it's frustrating, because I did like all the characters, and I would like to keep liking them, but there's all this ARGH in the way now.

Date: 2011-09-05 06:24 pm (UTC)
inkstone: Alex Benedetto from the @Bunch issue containing Chapter 42 (Default)
From: [personal profile] inkstone
Stephen Moffat is Chris Carter is J.J. Abrams

You know, when I first started reading this entry, I was thought: Wow! He sounds just like J.J. Abrams!!

Date: 2011-09-05 07:08 pm (UTC)
anatsuno: a comic speech bubble: "Ok. Again. It's not FOR you." (elitistickest)
From: [personal profile] anatsuno
I totally this exact same Fringe experience. And as such, I'm STILL not watching for the plot or the sense making, but purely for the pleasure of these characters, so even if they lapse back into nonsense I feel I will still be in good standing. win! :)

Date: 2011-09-05 08:03 pm (UTC)
thingswithwings: Astrid smiling (Fringe - Astrid smiles)
From: [personal profile] thingswithwings
I had to watch both Lost and Fringe with the LOLZ goggles on, for sure. But it's nonetheless really frustrating when they spend SO MUCH TIME making SUCH A BIG DEAL of the mythology - on X-Files, Lost, Fringe, Doctor Who, all over the place - and if I want to keep enjoying the characters or whatever I'm enjoying I have to just keep watching all the mythology bullshit - even if I'm ostensibly ignoring it, it' still there, it's still taking up time, and it's nothing more than cardboard filler as far as I'm concerned. HEY much like the most recent episode of Doctor Who was tasteless cardboard filler.

Date: 2011-09-05 10:08 pm (UTC)
trouble: Sketch of Hermoine from Harry Potter with "Bookworms will rule the world (after we finish the background reading)" on it (Default)
From: [personal profile] trouble
I like this post, but don't have anything smart to say in reponse.

Date: 2011-09-05 10:12 pm (UTC)
monanotlisa: Diana as Diana Prince in glasses and a hat, lifting the rim of the latter rakishly. HOT! (aaamy! - dw)
From: [personal profile] monanotlisa
Urgh, did not yet read this your review, but am sort of putting off watching the latest episode: the first new episode started off on the wrongest foot ever, with the whole, "Permission?" exchange, and while I was hopeful because Amy was at least, you know, active and interfering, I keep flinching and waiting for Moffat to continue gnawing at her character as an independent person.

Doesn't help that I think Gatiss is a talentless hack.
Edited Date: 2011-09-05 10:13 pm (UTC)

Date: 2011-09-06 12:29 pm (UTC)
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
From: [personal profile] happydork
basically, he said, you have to answer questions you raise on your show within a season's worth of episodes.

This is such a good guideline! I have a lot of faith in Moffat's non-linear storytelling, but I'm losing interest in the answers much faster than we're getting them.

Never answer the question, just pose more questions; never deal with the consequences, just put everyone in a new situation; never wrap anything up, because omg then viewers might stop watching.

Argh, yes, this. :(

And, as you say, that's even without getting started on the fail.

Date: 2011-09-06 03:11 pm (UTC)
stewardess: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stewardess
"losing interest in the answers"

That's the problem I'm having.

Date: 2011-09-06 03:58 pm (UTC)
some_stars: (dw: I NEED THIS)
From: [personal profile] some_stars
This is just exactly how I feel. I felt like he pulled it off great in series 5, and now everything's just collapsing--which is such a common pattern, especially these days where TV has to be spectacular and tight and perfect right out of the gate. Showrunners come up with a brilliant first season, tightly plotted and well paced and with just the right ratio of answers to suggestive clues, and then they seem to run out of ideas or caring.

I actually have a possibly-irrational grudge about the Silence thing, because it was so eerie and affecting, for me, to have all those different races and people in S5 running from "the silence" as in the un-being devouring the universe. Running from just another species of evil conquering alien is so much less fascinating, and also doesn't really match up with some of the S5 clues unless you massage them, which is the surest sign of lazy arc-plotting.

Also I'm getting really really tired of Moffat's narrative quirks, primarily because there are only a few of them and he uses them OVER AND OVER. It's just so disappointing, because S5 really felt like he was escaping this trap. The plot seemed to spring from the characters rather than be imposed on them; it made them make more sense rather than less. But of course he falls down on the consequences.


eruthros: Delenn from Babylon 5 with a startled expression and the text "omg!" (Default)

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