Monday, January 29, 2007

The Cold One Hundred

I had a thought over the weekend*. One that should sort out the problems that can seriously afflict ongoing American television dramas.

American television drama reminds me of someone who can’t always hold their liquor. Unless there’s someone around to take a firm hand, they keep on knocking it back until they become tiresome. Even then they blindly stumble around before eventually tripping over and lying there, blowing saliva bubbles and eventually voiding their bowels.

In the UK television drama tends to take a more measured approach. After downing six or eight, or maybe ten or thirteen shots, it’s more or less done. Anything that does run longer tends to switch to alcopops somewhere along the line, at which point it becomes bland and inoffensive, sitting in the corner, smelling faintly of wee. (This allusion does not include the likes of Doctor Who and Torchwood, which stumbled about all incoherent, and spewed all over the place from the absolute get go).

So what’s the answer? How about this: When it comes to serialised drama with an ongoing storyline, the TV shows are limited to one hundred episodes. That way the writers and producers can plan a beginning, middle and, more importantly, a satisfying end. And then it’s over. That way the plot doesn’t skew about and go all utterly fucking squirrely on us.

Obviously this kind of ruling eventually hoofs the regular pay cheque firmly in the works. Which means that folk who are more interested in keeping their snouts firmly embedded in the network’s money trough** for as long as they can may decide to opt for stand alone episode shows. The answer then is to restrict those shows with the same five-year ceiling, and comedies as well.

Firm, I know, but fair, assuming of course that the shows actually last that long. But let’s not be too darn rigid in the ruling, and instead add a caveat. The vagaries in television production means that nothing is set in stone, so how about, come the third year, every show comes under review.

If producers can show just cause for the ongoing stories to be successfully extended, they get the additional one or two or even three years. Just as long as people don’t get too greedy and shows don’t go past their shelf life and outstay their welcome.

Do it this way and shows will ultimately be remembered with affection not annoyance. Just for once artistic integrity would get to triumph over commerce, which would be nice. It still leaves opportunities for sequels or spin-offs – because there have got to be loopholes somewhere.

Such a practise would also cut down on the A1-Crazy fans that latch onto one particular show and over-obsess about it. They’d have to find something else to glom onto and give everyone a break. They may even get a life.

If you think this kind of ruling is a bit harsh, remember this: back in the 1980s The Dukes of Hazzard ran for seven seasons and close to 150 episodes. 150 episodes! And all each one amounted to an extended car chase and a lingering shot of Daisy Duke’s legs. I mean they even swapped actors for most of one season and nobody cared. Car chase, Daisy’s legs, end of story. We’ve got to have more smarts. We can’t let things like that ever happen again.

* I should point out that I actually had more than one thought over the weekend. It wasn’t like I spent the rest of the time sitting, staring into space, with my head tilted to one side and a towel on my lap to collect the drool.

** An altogether, slightly more wholesome image than something like keeping their lips clamped the networks’ money cock. Which is just plain vulgar.


At 5:59 am, Blogger wcdixon said...

Makes a lot of sense to me...

At 12:16 pm, Blogger Christine said...

I'll have you know I cared deeply when they switched the Dukes of Hazzard actors. That was possibly the most traumatic event of my six-year-old existence.

At 4:43 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Will, certainly would shakes things up a bit.

Christine, ah... you know, I'm actually at a loss for words on this one. I mean... nope, still can't get my head around it. I hope it didn't cause any long-lasting damage.

At 8:34 pm, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

How come nobody realised that they didn't actually need to MAKE any more? They could simply have recycled the first couple of series... Who would have known any different?

Supposing, for one ghastly moment, that FAWLTY TOWERS had run for 150 episodes....

At 10:01 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Not mentioned in the post, but even more scary was there were also two Dukes of Hazzard TV movies, shown in 1997 and 2000 respectively.

It wouldn't surprise me if the car chase sequences were recycled again and again. Of course to see if I'm right would mean watching some episodes and... oh, let's not even go there.

The thought of 150 episodes of Fawlty Towers sends a shiver down my spine. It would be so weak and diluted and tired. That's just nasty.

I know commerce frowns upon it, but I do prefer quality over quantity.


Post a Comment

<< Home