When a show creator/producer says that their show has no pre-established endgame or overarching plot, and they plan to just keep making episodes until the ratings slip or the creative well runs dry, and then the hipster TV snobs are like…
Tcha. Yeah. About that…*Ahem*
Look, I have nothing against your Steven Universes, your Star VS the Forces of Evils, your Avatar: The Last Airbenders, your Adventure Times, your She-Ra and the Princesses of Powers, your Owl Houses, your Amphibiases, what have you; most of them aren’t my jam personally, but if you prefer those types of shows, then that’s perfectly fine. You do you. BUUUUT…
I hate it when people treat episodic shows and stand-alone episodes of shows like they’re worthless. Not all content needs to be a piece of a bigger whole. Not every show has to be serialized or a saga.
Some of y’all might not be old enough to remember this, but back in the Before Time…
…Episodic shows were the norm, not the exception. For a long time, showrunners weren’t concerned about telling a gigantic overreaching story…
I’m not saying people can’t or shouldn’t enjoy a serialized show. If that’s what you dig, then continue digging them. They can be great if well done, but just because ‘prestige’ shows are in vogue right now doesn’t mean that that’s the only type of show we should get or that shows which don’t adhere to this type of storytelling are somehow ‘inferior’; short-range episodic shows can be cool too.
You don’t always need a seven-course meal with all the trimmings…
Sometimes a simple burger and fries will do!
2 thoughts on “Serial Complaints”
I have a bit of a long comment coming up. Keep in mind I still very much agree with what you’re talking about. It’s just something to think about.
Probably one thing that does worry me about people always expecting serialization is when the showrunners seem to be a bit too keen into the idea of it. Case in point, here’s this tweet from Steve Loter. He’s a Disney veteran with numerous credits under his belt, such as directing Kim Possible and American Dragon Jake Long, executive producing The Ghost And Molly McGee, and being co-developer for Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur. In this tweet about Moon Girl, he said that the show would start out episodic before becoming more serialized. I was interested in the show long before this tweet and I still am, though it is a bit sad that some people are like “Okay, now the show will be good.” Like, it’s a fun action comedy show with really good animation and fun characters, regardless of whether it’s story driven or not. And having seen just about every episode that’s come out so far, I can say that it’s somewhat story driven in how there is a bit of an overarching goal (Lunella wanting to find the original Moon Girl), though I don’t know if I’d call it serialized. Plus, many of the episodes usually tell standalone stories with only some of the ending teasers for future story ideas being the real big setup.
I think one way to show how shows that are more episodic tend to have more longevity than story driven shows is to look at Kim Possible and American Dragon Jake Long since he worked on both. Kim Possible is a show that was very much in the realm of being a fun episodic action comedy. There was definitely continuity and status quo changes, but most of the episodes were about telling self contained stories. It’s a show that’s still talked about to this day. Contrast with American Dragon Jake Long, which definitely wanted to go for grander storytelling with stuff like the 13 skulls story and the Dark Dragon storylines. In general, I think the show did the ideas pretty well, though one can definitely tell that the show did want to be more like a Jetix action show (where there’s less restrictions) than a Disney Channel action show. If TV tropes is to be believed, the storylines I mentioned were apparently going to be in separate seasons, but then with the realization that they weren’t getting more seasons, they were crammed into one season. As such, season 2 does have bolder storytelling, but also doesn’t have as much direction given how the skull stuff was wrapped up with like 10 episodes left in season 2 and the Dark Dragon stuff is only shown at the end. The show is still fondly remembered, but does seem to be less talked about and marketed compared to Kim Possible because of this.
Hopefully I was able to make sense with this. The point I hope I made is that if there’s promise from someone that a show is serialized or somewhat story driven, it also puts more pressure on the showrunners in making sure everything comes together.
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So I found this interesting video talking about Hailey’s On It should be viewed as its own show and not seen as “The next Owl House” and all that. It’s a pretty good video. It even brings up a criticism I didn’t even consider (like the low stakes premise being needlessly high stakes). However, it does make me wonder one thing, which is what I want to talk about. Do creators (both veteran and newcomers) think that there shows should be story driven in some way in order to get the more attention and be seen as seen? I mean, recall that Steve Loter tweet I put out where he said that Moon Girl And Devil Dinosaur will get serialized, as if that’s to say that the show will only be good if it’s serialized. There’s also one tweet Craig McCracken put out about how he intentionally shortened Kid Cosmic (he was offered to make 30 episodes, but chose to make 24 episodes) so as to make the best product possible. It makes me wonder if there’s a sense of insecurity from even showrunners themselves so that there shows can be seen as good through this lens. It seems like the only kinds of shows that don’t have this expectations are preschool shows since, even when they sometimes have status quo changes, are generally episodic overall, and thus (from this perspective) aren’t seen as worthy of talking about.