|Willow (the_willow) wrote,|
@ 2009-02-24 20:32:00
|Entry tags:||meta, thinky thoughts, tv: dollhouse, tv: firefly, tv: in general|
What makes good genre tv? What makes a good genre tv pilot?
I"m asking these questions because of a line in a comment by coalescent in coffeeandink's LJ: 'but I do agree with herewiss13's comment that it spends too much time establishing arc-elements to be an effective pilot for the sort of anthology show Dollhouse is apparently intended to be.'
Someone else also mentioned that they found the second half of the (possibly) Original Pilot Script, to be somewhat confusing. And yet another person mentioned that if that pilot had aired, given the second episode that was broadcast, viewers could be confused about just what type of show they were meant to be watching.
This was the point in which I feel like a complete n00b while reading this conversation. Because I'm still stuck on - but the pilot script was the better story. But the reactions I'm seeing is that story - long arc wise, needs to take a backseat in television. That pilots aren't meant to kick off the story, but are instead meant to represent the kind of show viewers (and I'd guess advertisers) could be expected to see every week.
I'm left thinking that Pilots & Story have very different definitions in the world of television. I'm also left wondering if Joss is someone who doesn't use the tv industry's definitions when he first starts writing. Buffy was a mid-season replacement, right? So there wouldn't have been all that much executive tampering, yes? And Angel was a spin-off. Therefore Firefly might have been the first time Joss experienced major differences in how he kicks off a story and in how tv executives want to kick off a series. And it would seem the problem happened again in DOLLHOUSE.
When I finally watched FIREFLY and saw the episode that had been written to be the Pilot, before FOX intervened and gave us 'The Train Job' - I found myself interested in the world and the characters. It was like a movie teaser, or a sample of cheesecake - well maybe not cheesecake, but a sample of chocolate cake. The Train Job did not introduce me to characters and a universe that I found interesting at all. But it was a fairly good example of the kind of hijinks the Serenity Crew did find themselves in week after week; heists where something goes off or wrong in a frontier cowboys in space setting.
The problem, to me, was that I didn't care about the heist, or the fact it went bad or wrong, or who the bad guys were. Yes I was told that the Alliance were the bad guys - but I didn't see it. And given that the narrators were trying to rob a train, I didn't have much reason to believe their pov.
I think there's something similar in the Pilot Script vs the Episode that was aired as the Pilot when it came to DOLLHOUSE. I'm told that Helo Mulder* is a loose canon, far before I see him stick a gun in someone's back. But even as I watched him do that, I couldn't connect it to any kind of desperation or frustration. The boxing scenes basically tell me that Hero Mulder's taking blows to his ego and pride and sense of self in his ability to do his job. But I don't know just how much, or how badly he messed up someone else's ongoing investigation - there's only references on the surface. I don't see the lives he endangered. And I have no idea why he felt the need to endanger them if he's so gungho about righting wrongs. It's just a sticker put on his chest: Hello, My Name Is Desperate Cop.
I'm told that DOLLHOUSE is a bad bad thing, by the way a father would rather go to them than the police. That's top-noted by Skeezy Tech Boy. Those scenes, if they were in a book, would have been written " He was a smarmy, cocky, son of a bitch who got off a little everytime he had to mold one of the actives to meet a client's needs." But for me, there wasn't a sense of being shown, why DOLLHOUSE existed in the first place, why there was a need for such a place etc.
In the script, the Madame breaks things down thusly - that with an active, you never have to worry about someone privately judging you, you never have to worry about what's really going on behind their eyes. They are who you need them to be. Immediately I got that you can indulge your most private and sacred of fantasies, you can temporarily have the perfect right hand man or woman who won't ever be tempted to turn on you during a delicate and risky moment. And best of all, whenever you need them, they'll be available, same non judging personality, catering to the same needs, with the same history that only ever gets checked out when -you- need it. No prompting to stick to the script/fantasy. No wondering about who knows you saw that person and how much money do they have/ might they use to blackmail information.
I can see how that might be addicting.
I can see the need, how DOLLHOUSE caters to the need and I start wondering about what's lost to feed the need - on both sides.
I see the bad bad thing.
Now granted, dialogue can be shifted and scenes rewritten and that can be done well, or badly. The newer pilots for both FIREFLY and DOLLHOUSE in both cases, were rewritten, to my mind, badly. But there's only so many minutes in an episode, only so many scenes you can show. So again, I'm wondering at the difference between telling a good story and setting up a series - in television. Is it possible to have both in genre television, barring spin-offs and sequels were a built in audience is already assumed?
And if I like having a story/world kicked off in a particular way - am I better off just sticking to books?
* (nickname by zvi-likes-tv.livejournal.com)
ETA: I realize that my perspective on telling vs showing is awkward given that tv is a visual (show) media. But I think for me it's something about over the top/hamming it up/mustache twirling vs leading the audience to draw the conclusion that someone or something is...