I’ve made the casual observation before that I find episode-by-episode reviews of some programs to be problematic. I don’t say that to gripe about any writer, format, or even those types of review in general; rather, it’s a reflection on the difficulties of discussing individual stories told against a larger, richer canvass.
Not too long back, I did a piece on BBC America’s Orphan Black. I specifically waited to do it until after I got a handful of episodes under my belt. Why? Well, the pilot was terrific, but then the 2nd and 3rd episode mired the show very quickly in some horribly predictable elements common to ‘weekly storytelling.’ (If I could see it, no doubt others could see it, too.) Episode 4 was great – the writers went back to what worked so well in the pilot … but then they’ve pretty much spent the remainder of the first season wandering through situations and characters better suited for conventional TV dramas instead of the unconventional.
In fact, some programs have a way of getting caught up in creative overkill. They go to great lengths to establish a world and its characters knowing full well that there will be future payoffs. In the short run, these shows practically antagonize their audience by making folks endure nonsense that doesn’t seem to add up to anything worth watching.
Syfy’s always found itself in some very treacherous waters so far as this phenomenon goes. Right now, they’re airing Defiance, an ambitious (and expensive!) cross-platform entertainment experiment – it’s a weekly TV program, but it’s also an online game. The easiest way to explain the story is to say that it explores Earth’s near-future wherein our planet – destroyed by a star war – is now jointly colonized by humans and several alien species left here after the battles ended. Despite a steady leak of viewers, Syfy is standing strong in their commitment to Defiance (being ‘defiant,’ one might say), already green-lighting a second season. Continue Reading »