Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Patrick on Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:39 am

stanmore wrote:
I think British TV works well with my scattergun brain. The episodes of House or MASH or 24 or The West Wing or whatever have been fantastic, but there's something in my head that goes "yes, this is very interesting; you're building up fascinating characters and an intriguing set-up but can't we go somewhere different now?" Probably why Doctor Who is my favourite TV show.

I think this may be a facet of the length of an American television season. Cable programming has changed this somewhat in recent years, but the traditional length of the television season over here ranges from 22 to 26 episodes, starting usually in late September, and running through May. It's structured this way because the traditional ratings sweeps periods (which determine what networks can charge for advertising based on audience size and demographics) occur in November, February and May. Those are the months where you'll get the best individual stories for any given television series.

Given this marathon type of schedule, American shows, unlike their much shorter UK counterparts, generally seem to take a while to get going.

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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:51 am

Patrick wrote:I think this may be a facet of the length of an American television season. Cable programming has changed this somewhat in recent years, but the traditional length of the television season over here ranges from 22 to 26 episodes, starting usually in late September, and running through May. It's structured this way because the traditional ratings sweeps periods (which determine what networks can charge for advertising based on audience size and demographics) occur in November, February and May. Those are the months where you'll get the best individual stories for any given television series.

Given this marathon type of schedule, American shows, unlike their much shorter UK counterparts, generally seem to take a while to get going.
Absolutely. Which as you so rightly point out, leads to the often leisurely pace of some US series. It's also responsible for the high number of "bottled" episodes which basically are just water treading while awaiting the optimum time to advance the story.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Patrick on Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:03 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:Absolutely. Which as you so rightly point out, leads to the often leisurely pace of some US series. It's also responsible for the high number of "bottled" episodes which basically are just water treading while awaiting the optimum time to advance the story.

Quite right. Even when the trend got broken with shows like 24, which premiered in January and generally only ran a half season, you still get the quality episodes poised to air during sweeps periods, and lulls occuring the months in between.

Johnstone, I think you're quite right to give Babylon 5 a go. I know Rich finds it preachy and pretentious, but I suspect that likely stems from the fact that a central theme in the show is expressions of faith. From G'Kar coming to write his "Book of G'Kar," to Delenn's role as leader of the Mimbari religious cast, to Bester's cult of the Telepath with the Psi-Corps ("The Corps is Mother, the Corps is Father"), this is a series that tells a story on a variety levels. I'm not particularly a fan of the fifth season, but it's worth watching just for Neil Gaiman's excellent story "Day of the Dead" (another story with religious themes.)

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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Zoltar on Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:20 am

Patrick wrote:I'm not particularly a fan of the fifth season, but it's worth watching just for Neil Gaiman's excellent story "Day of the Dead" (another story with religious themes.)
I find the fifth season the weakest of the lot as well, especially considering how great the third and fourth seasons were. But the series still ends on a high note, thanks to the excellent final episode.

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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:54 am

There's a lot to be said for both Patrick and Zoltar's thoughts on B5. Particularly if you try to keep in mind that season 5 possibly suffered the worst from the network's poor handling of the show.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Johnstone McGuckian on Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:12 pm

Interesting stuff. it certainly sounds like giving a go.

I have had an idea of something that may be worth having a go at in a few years or so, if I ever make it that is. I've scribbled down a few notes of something that could be a TV show. The best thing to do is spend a long time on it and then spend even longer failing to get it even read by anyone. Still, ideas that I have even now could be useful in a few years time. I ended up writing 4000 words or so as the start of a plan.

Having only recently discovered American TV for real I have to say that I am enjoying it. I can stand the odd dull episode as I like the buildup, I like the slow development and things slowly piecing together. It's better than having 4 of the 5 main points come up in episode 11 ready for the 12&13 finale. This certainly is one thing that DW series 5 did better than series 4.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:57 pm

Hold on to the idea, Youngster. Nurse it like a sickly child, occasionally curse it and call it stupid, useless and threaten to cast it out into the cold of your rubbish bin. But don't. Hold on to it and wait until the time feels right for it. No matter how long that may take.

Since US TV is relatively brand new for you, then there's a hell of a lot out there for you to discover and enjoy. But be prepared to wade through a lot of guff to get to the good stuff. Smile
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Johnstone McGuckian on Thu Dec 16, 2010 5:54 pm

Just got to the end of the fifth season of DS9. That is how to end a series.

For those of you who haven't seen it...
Spoiler:
The station gets invaded by the Dominion lead Cardassians, the stations former owners and a war that's been coming since the end of the second series finally begins.

The episode itself had Blake's 7 written all over it. It stank of the end of the second series, it even looked like it in places. A minefield in place at the access point of the enemy and a huge fleet of ships on their way, with nothing to defend against them but DS9 itself. It feels like one of the best series endings ever is been redone with money behind it to make it visually impressive.

Brilliant stuff. This is far far beyond the usual Trek tedium.

Saying that, one thing I do admire Trek for is its ability to end a series well. While Having 'Part one' of a story as the finale and 'Part two' to kick off the new series is irritating, it does give the opportunity to create some good cliffhangers.

Imagine The Sound of Drums or The Stolen Earth's cliffhanger ending the series. That's what it's like.

However, I believe I'm in for a 6 episode long arc next in DS9, so this is even bigger. Truly a well conceived and written bit of telly. I'm impressed that DS9 managed to be good despite having a Trek badge, but the more I watch, the more I think that it's nothing short of groundbreaking. And brave too, considering that this cliffhanger had to be good enough to interest people in a 6 episode arc at the start of the next series.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Patrick on Thu Dec 16, 2010 6:17 pm

Johnstone, I think you're in for a real treat, and some great surprises. While Season 6 of DS9 certainly had lots of good moments, I think its 7th and final season was its best. It certainly went out on a tremendous high note!

I remember reading an article early on in the life of DS9 that if Star Trek, and Next Generation were "wagon train to the stars," DS9 was the wild west frontiere boom town. It definately stretched the creativity of franchise, setting it on a station that (with a few exceptions) doesn't really move.

Enjoy it, Johnstone. I remember it fondly, myself.

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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Thu Dec 16, 2010 10:44 pm

Agreed. Although to be fair, there's also the valid argument that the slight retooling of DS9 around the mid point of the series was a direct answer to Babylon 5's on-going arc.

Be that as it may, enjoy the final season of the show, Youngster. Because after that you hit "Voyager", and everything Trek begins to hit the skids.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Johnstone McGuckian on Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:09 pm

Believe me, I'm not going anywhere near Voyager except perhaps the Borg episodes. I may also check out the pilot for the Marquis connection. I could not manage 7 series of it though.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Thu Dec 16, 2010 11:33 pm

Wise move. In many respects, "Stargate Universe" is much more what Voyager should have been in terms of the difficulties faced by people so far from home struggling with an ancient ship and life-threatening lack of essential resources.

Plus it has Robert Carlyle. Nuff said!
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Johnstone McGuckian on Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:14 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:Wise move. In many respects, "Stargate Universe" is much more what Voyager should have been in terms of the difficulties faced by people so far from home struggling with an ancient ship and life-threatening lack of essential resources.

Plus it has Robert Carlyle. Nuff said!

Rsbert Carlyle's in Stargate? I think I'm now convinced that I need to watch it. Damn good actor.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Johnstone McGuckian on Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:16 am

On another note, I've converted my ramblings of this thread into Blog form. Give it a look every now and again if you have a moment Smile
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Dec 17, 2010 12:39 am

Thanks, Johnstone. You can count on me to keep an eye on it.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Jennyjenkins on Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:02 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:Agreed. Although to be fair, there's also the valid argument that the slight retooling of DS9 around the mid point of the series was a direct answer to Babylon 5's on-going arc.

Be that as it may, enjoy the final season of the show, Youngster. Because after that you hit "Voyager", and everything Trek begins to hit the skids.
I like Voyager - It's nice to see women in charge who aren't baddies
Johnstone McGuckian wrote:On another note, I've converted my ramblings of this thread into Blog form. Give it a look every now and again if you have a moment Smile

I'll go and look in a bit Johnstone Smile
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:07 am

Jennyjenkins wrote:I like Voyager - It's nice to see women in charge who aren't baddies
There's absolutely nothing wrong at all with having a woman in charge, m'dear. (After all, isn't the the rightful and natural order of things). And it's not that Voyager was bad. Rather more it was in the main very, very badly mishandled from a creative viewpoint.

Basically, Berman and co failed to exploit the full potential of the concept.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Johnstone McGuckian on Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:13 am

Janeway is a fantastic character, probably my favorite Captain after Sisco. I want to like Picard more but I just can't.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Dec 17, 2010 1:20 am

Picard is overrated as a character. Almost his entire popularity is due to Patrick Stewart's innate strength and...gravitas.

For me the Trek captains are ranked thus.

Kirk
Sisco
Janeway
Picard
Archer*

*and sometimes Picard and Archer trade positions on the list
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Rich Flair on Fri Dec 17, 2010 5:34 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:Picard is overrated as a character. Almost his entire popularity is due to Patrick Stewart's innate strength and...gravitas.

For me the Trek captains are ranked thus.

Kirk
Sisco
Janeway
Picard
Archer*

*and sometimes Picard and Archer trade positions on the list

Sisco (beard, shaved head)
Kirk
Picard
Sisco (pre beard)
all the other Captains in Starfleet history
Archer
Janeway
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Johnstone McGuckian on Fri Dec 17, 2010 6:27 am

Agreed that Beardy Sisco is better Very Happy
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:52 am

Johnstone McGuckian wrote:Agreed that Beardy Sisco is better Very Happy
I'll go with the beardy look too. I really don't think either the writers or Avery Brooks really got a firm handle on who the character was prior to whiskery growth.
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Nick Barlow on Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:07 am

OK, some shows you really should watch:

The Wire - just to follow up the recommendations above, this is a staggeringly good piece of television, each season effectively a novel in its own right.
Deadwood - an entire town brought to life and then drenched in whiskey, blood and curses. Strong stuff, but there are few characters in the whole of TV as fascinatingly complex and rich as Al Swearengen.
Rome - the first series is great, the second series suffers from having to combine several years worth of plots into a handful of episodes to get to a resolution.
Spooks - go back to the start and compare how different it's been over the years, and yet how it manages to remain one of the most intelligent series on British TV.

If you're serious about wanting to write for TV, then you need to watch a hell of a lot of series, not just ones from particular genres that you like. Watch popular shows that you hate, just to see why they're popular and don't just assume that something you like failed with an audience because it was 'too good for them' or something similar.

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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Sid Seadevil on Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:24 am

Excellent advice, Nick. And I'm duely hitting my head against the wall for forgetting to include Deadwood and Spooks in the shows I offered up for suggestion.*

*although my love of Rome is so well documented that I just took it for read that everybody knew. Smile
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Re: Johnstone's Epic Quest to Watch Stuff That was on the Telly Box A Long Time Ago!

Post by Zoltar on Fri Dec 17, 2010 9:48 am

Sid Seadevil wrote:Excellent advice, Nick. And I'm duely hitting my head against the wall for forgetting to include Deadwood and Spooks in the shows I offered up for suggestion.*

*although my love of Rome is so well documented that I just took it for read that everybody knew. Smile
I thought you did include Deadwood. Smile

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