Genre: TV Pilot – Drama/Thriller
Premise: When the LA police force tries to cover up a killing by one of their officers, they’re underhanded by a clean cop who won’t go with the program.
About: We got an interesting one this week. The DNA for today’s show is pure cable. It’s being put together by the same company that did True Detective. It’s a 10 episode anthology. Yet it’s going to be on NBC. Clearly, NBC wants to be cool again, so they’re trying something different (they were said to have gone after the project hard). But can a big network act like Netflix? Like HBO? Another cool aspect about this pilot is that it was written by a couple of unknowns. One of them drives an Uber. The other is a valet (shouldn’t this have been called “Carhunt?”). Unknown writers. Conservative networks trying to play cool. True Detective producers. This is definitely a project to keep your eye on.
Writers: Whit Brayton & Zack Rice
Details: 62 pages (undated draft)

Phg7xaRjGixaucabKznGO9Bno1_400Ben’s little brother Casey is said to have been attached at one point but I think NBC wants bigger.

Uh-oh.

We got another show from the True Detective folks. We all know how I felt about that script (I was the lone dissenting voice). So today’s review comes with some baggage. I mean, if I hate it, that’s probably a good thing for the show, right?

But before we get lost in that argument, I can tell you that this is nothing like True Detective. Well, it is an anthology. So the whole thing will be wrapped up in one season. But this is way more mainstream. In fact, it’s ripped straight out of the headlines – the whole cop-on-the-run Christopher Dorner thing that happened in 2013 (strangely, this story takes place in 2013 as well).

The leniency with which cops can kill civilians and get away with it is a hot-button topic these days and Manhunt wants to bring that controversy to the screen in as exciting a way as possible. Let’s see how they do.

David Cofield may be the cleanest cop LA’s got. On this day, he’s part of a SWAT team led by brash commander, Warren Sutton. They’re going to invade some drug dealer’s home and, judging by the size of the team, it’s not some small fry.

The raid doesn’t go as planned and the dealers immediately start fighting back. One of them gets loose and Sutton chases him along a series of roofs. He finally catches him, but instead of cuffing him and letting justice decide his fate, Sutton kicks him off the roof, killing him. Several cops spot this, including Cofield.

Here’s where things get interesting. The other cops go on the record saying the dealer fell due to a struggle. But Cofield says uh-uh. Sutton clearly killed him. Cofield is visited by Internal Affairs, his lieutenant, his Captain, all who try to convince him to change his story. But Cofield is a good cop. He’s not letting anyone get away with murder.

A day after the murder, Sutton calls Cofield to meet and “talk.” The two convene at a late night diner, and the next day, Sutton ends up shot between the eyes. Meanwhile, Cofield’s on the run, going to the internet with his story. He explains what happened that fateful day, and insists that Sutton met with him to kill him. Sutton’s killing was merely an act of self-defense.

A third major character, Harry Drapkin, a once-great but now-fallen author, finds himself pulled into the case as Cofield’s only ally. In a world where the LAPD will be putting millions of dollars into discrediting and destroying Cofield’s story, Drapkin will be the only one who can expose the truth. But is his own legacy so tainted that no one will believe him? We’ll see!

I think Brayton and Rice are on to something here. I always found the Christopher Dorner story intriguing and was hoping he was going to expose this deep-set corruption inside of the Los Angeles Police Department. It was the kind of story made for the movies. Unfortunately, in real life, there are no happy endings. And whether that was because Dorner really was nuts or the corporation trying to take him down was too big, we’ll probably never know.

Either way, I do agree with Brayton and Rice’s decision to keep this story contained to 10 episodes. One of the big failings with television is that they push a story way beyond its lasting point (ahem – Prison Break?). Manhunt won’t have that problem. But what about the script? Is it any good?

It’s not bad. But man does it start off clunky. There are so many characters introduced in the first 10 pages that I almost thought someone was playing a joke on me. How do writers possibly expect us to remember six characters in two paragraphs? Ten in three?

A lot of these character intros come through the SWAT team, and I see this a lot when writers include SWAT teams or army platoons or any group of people. They name everyone. You don’t have to name every character if every character isn’t going to play a pivotal role in the story. Just name the key guys. Because besides the frustration of having to remember a bunch of people, over-introducing leads to confusion. With so many people introduced, I wasn’t sure who the main people were, forcing me to go back and re-read character introductions once I knew that Cofield and Sutton were the only two who mattered.

Once the pilot hits the midway point and we see where it’s going, though, we buy in. I’ve found that these “underdog fights against the corrupt establishment” stories almost always play well. They give us one of the most sympathetic characters on the screenwriting market – the underdog. And who doesn’t want to see a big corrupt establishment get exposed? That’s a great goal.

The writers add a couple of nice nuggets to the equation as well. It turns out that Cofield is being treated for schizophrenia. Also, we don’t see the exchange between Cofield and Sutton on the night Sutton is killed. This leaves some uncertainty into if everything went down the way Cofield said it did. And I think that’s important because if we know all the details from the get-go, the show is devoid of mystery. The big reason the Christopher Dorner case captured the public’s imagination was that we weren’t sure if he was telling the truth or not. We wanted him to be. But in the back of our minds we were thinking, “Errr… he kinda looks crazy.”

I have to say I’m excited by the recent explosion of the “Mid-Form” story (short form is movies, long form is traditional TV shows). One of the biggest weaknesses with movies is the inability to explore character. There’s only so much you can do in 110 minutes. With TV shows, by the second season, you’re often rehashing the characters in ways we’re already familiar with. An 8-10 episode arc seems like the perfect amount of time to tell a character-driven story.

And I like what the writers do with Cofield’s character. He’s got a restraining order against his wife and child – so something happened there. And he was recently suspended from the force for a week – another mystery that needs to be explained.

This is a good setup for a show. The only complaint I have is that it feels formulaic. I hated True Detective but the one thing I’ll give that show is that it was different. It took chances. And if NBC is going to go wrong somewhere in this search to be relevant again, it may be in that capacity. If they try to promote this as some big glossy companion piece to The Blacklist, it could get irrelevant fast. The whole advantage of an anthology series is that you only have a limited amount of episodes so you can take more chances. We’ll see if that’s in the cards, and where Manhunt goes from here.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Because TV production moves a lot faster, you can rip stories straight out of the headlines. If you see something that captures the imagination of the country, consider writing a show about it. Remember, though, to optimize it for your storytelling needs. That’s the great thing about being a writer – you can do anything. So if the real-life story doesn’t end the way you wanted it to, or include the characters you think would best suit it, simply change it.

  • drifting in space

    I am liking this new format as well. Once you get into the second and third seasons of shows, they typically have lost their momentum. With ten episodes, you set out knowing exactly how much time you’ve got to include things.

    Season two of Twin Peaks for example. How much longer could they draw that out? Imagine that story, but packed into 12 episodes. A young popular girl is killed and the whole town is suspect.

    True Detective was nice in this way. You wanted to watch the next episode because shit was getting real but you knew it was all going to hit soon. I didn’t like the show all that much, but like Carson, I have to say it was different and kept me watching if only for that. Just let down by the ending.

    • klmn

      I don’t think it’s a new format. Have you ever watched the old British series, The Prisoner?

      Here’s the intro. (Check out the Lotus 7S2 – the coolest car ever.)

      • brenkilco

        It’s not a new format. Mini-series adaptations of novels were all the rage in the seventies. But except for Roots most have been forgotten because they weren’t very good. (QBVII anyone?)

        The Prisoner was a slightly different animal. It had an episodic structure. The stories were for the most part standalone but it was designed to last only a single season. And the series did conclude. Though anyone who can explain the surreal final episodes is a better man than me. Mcgoohan was the coolest actor of the sixties bar none. Supposedly turned down the chance to play James Bond.

        • Poe_Serling

          “Mcgoohan was the coolest actor of the sixties bar none. Supposedly turned down the chance to play James Bond.”

          You’re so right – McGoohan turned down the role of Bond in Dr. No because he “didn’t like the character, who he felt to be an
          unlikeable, immoral bully.”

          And I believe Ian Fleming wanted David Niven for the role of James Bond in the first film.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Strangely enough, he played Longshanks in Braveheart, an unlikable, immoral bully. And he did it quite well.

          • Poe_Serling

            True. I wouldn’t be surprised that some actors shy away from roles that are too close to their own personality, or maybe he just needed a paycheck by the time in his career.

          • brenkilco

            Think he just didn’t want to glorify that type of character. Recall that he was one of the principal go to villains on the old Columbo show. Directed some of the episodes too.

          • filmklassik

            McGoohan was a brilliant actor, and SECRET AGENT and DANGER MAN were both smart, suspenseful shows (never got into the PRISONER very much… too arty and surreal for my taste… then again, I haven’t watched that show since my teens).

            And you’re right, McGoohan was a strict Catholic and extremely conscious of the “message” his work might be sending.

            He never — or almost never — allowed his SECRET AGENT character to enjoy casual, “Bondian” dalliances with women, for example. And he almost never fired a gun.

          • brenkilco

            Watched a couple of episodes of Danger Man online within the last couple years. And was surprisingly impressed. First by the espionage technique. In one ep Drake ingratiates himself with a government official, entices him into a phony business scheme and then blackmails him for information. Pretty realistic and pretty amoral for sixties TV.
            mcgoohan had this gimmick when playing his typical, super smart characters. He was forever finishing the other characters’ sentences for them. Almost like he wasn’t just smart. He also had esp.

          • brenkilco

            And Niven did get to play it eventually, sort of. In the novel Casino Royale Fleming describes Bond as looking like Hoagy Carmichael. You can check out the most flattering photo of the Stardust composer on the internet and that still won’t make much sense.

        • klmn

          While the stories were standalone there was an ongoing theme about regimentation and the final episode was a kind of victory over that, as well as the the creators just having fun.

          Well, that’s my interpretation, anyway.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Who are you?
        The new number 2.
        Who is number 1?
        You are number 6.

        The early episodes were strangely delightful but this thing ran out of ideas half way through and became rather absurd, and from what I remember, ended unsatisfactorily.

        • klmn

          They were handicapped by the resources available to them. The balloon thingy was not very impressive.

          • brenkilco

            I read somewhere that balloon thingy was a desperate last minute replacement for some other enforcement gizmo that didn’t work. But, hey, balloon thingy is iconic.

          • klmn

            Now it is. And I think the series holds up better than most television from that era. And a lot depends on when you first watched it, and if you watched McGoohan’s previous series SECRET AGENT, which had a cool theme song, at least in America.

          • Poe_Serling

            Also, the original ‘Prisoner’ series was planned as a seven episode serial.

            The production company behind the show wanted to sell it to the US market and they needed more episodes to do so.

            McGoohan admitted that he had a hard time coming up with ideas for the additional shows. The cowboy-inspired episode ‘Living in Harmony’ came about because of McGoohan’s desire to be in a Western.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    I also like the 8-10 show arc/series. But I’m also a huge fan of American Horror Story’s twist, the same characters (actors, actually) but in a new setting every season — though still in horror.

    I think that’s genius — and I can’t believe after 4+ (now in their 5th) seasons there haven’t been more copy-cats/riffs on the idea.

    Of course, someone trying to break in (like us) couldn’t really do that. What are we supposed to do, include an addendum to the end of our script explaining this season, then our pitch for how next season will be completely different?

  • leitskev

    ” An 8-10 episode arc seems like the perfect amount of time to tell a character-driven story.”

    Agreed! I have been increasingly excited about this story form, which is not really episodic so much as an 8 to 10 hour story broken into parts. This is made possible because of the way people watch now, with on demand access. Before, shows generally had to be episodic and stand alone. This means we have a season to explore multiple characters in depth. There is is going to be MUCH more of this, and I think it’s great.

    ” How do writers possibly expect us to remember six characters in two paragraphs? Ten in three?”

    If the script is not written on spec, the writers don’t care much about the reader’s ability to memorize characters. They are more focused on how the viewing audience will experience it.

    “The only complaint I have is that it feels formulaic. I hated True Detective but the one thing I’ll give that show is that it was different. It took chances.”

    I think shows that are written for the networks have to be more formulaic. That’s one reason I don’t watch them. But they do have to be that way because the audience is committed to watching only as far as the next commercial. So the story has to win the battle for their attention every 13 minute sequence. Hard to do that without being formulaic. Not much room to take chances.

  • carsonreeves1

    I don’t think you’re going to get too many people arguing that you can explore character better in movies than you can in TV.

    Of course you can explore character in any time frame. But the longer you have, the more subtle and realistic you can be about it. It’s hard to force a full character arc into a feature and it not feel artificial. At least in my opinion.

    • mulesandmud

      On the other hand, spending too much time with a character can dilute them, trivialize them, or ruin their mystique.

      Most people would agree that Hannibal Lecter is one of the greatest character of all time. That’s not because of his four movies or his ongoing television series; it’s because of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, in which he appears for only 16 minutes.

      Assuming that television is automatically more of a character-based medium confuses quantity with quality, which is a common mistake in the film and television industries.

      More screen time does not automatically equal better or deeper characterization. I’ll choose a concise but well-structured character arc over five guaranteed seasons any day of the week.

      • Malibo Jackk

        “On the other hand, spending too much time with a character can dilute them, trivialize them, or ruin their mystique.”

        True on so many levels.
        Have known families that treated complete strangers better than their own family members.

        Once had to work with a family friend of the boss. I used to watch people’s reaction after meeting him for the first time. Was interested to see how long it took them to realize they were talking to an idiot. Typically three minutes.
        Still, there were people who would laugh and found him amusing. But, of course, they weren’t people who had to deal with all his problems.
        It was easy to like him from a distance.

    • filmklassik

      If that’s the case, Carson, is it fair to say that movies have now been displaced in your affection by long and mid-form TV?

      Let’s take Spectacle off the table, by the way. Let’s take it as read that grappling robots, flying supermen and epic space battle are all rendered better on the big screen than the little plasma in your living room.

      There. Stipulated.

      But “event movies” notwithstanding, do you now prefer watching serialized TV (either long-form or mid-form) to two hour features?

  • Scott Strybos

    “Attention Screenwriters: Here’s Your Chance to Hone Your Craft in the Bahamas.

    Apply to this screenwriting residency program and maybe you’ll win an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas!

    Aspiring screenwriters should pay close attention: you now have an opportunity to hone your skills for free in sunny Bahamas. Entries are now open for the 2015 Bahamas International Film Festival Screenwriting Residency Program. Four screenwriters will be selected for an all-expenses paid trip to the Bahamas in December 2015 for a chance to network with and learn from Hollywood professionals. Entries are being accepted for feature films and TV pilots until July 22.

    This year, the judges and mentors include ‘Game of Thrones’ producer Vince Geradis, senior VP for Weinstein Dan Guando, literary manager at Kaplan/Perrone Taylor Benzie, film producer Sean Covel, ScreenCraft co-founder Cameron Cubbison, and co-CEO at Buffalo 8 Productions and Bondit Matthew Helderman.

    ‘There is no place more beautiful and intimate than the Bahamas International Film Festival Screenwriters Residency Program in Harbour Island, Bahamas. BIFF, Buffalo 8 and ScreenCraft will provide an invaluable network of world-class industry professionals sharing insight and an experience you will never forget,’ said BIFF Founder Leslie Vanderpool in a statement.”

    https://screencraft.org/bahamas/

    • klmn

      Not for me. Some other suckers can pay for their Bahamas vacation.

  • mulesandmud

    Okay, here we go. Let’s start some fireworks.

    To me, TRUE DETECTIVE felt incredibly undisciplined. Well made and well-performed, for sure, and designed with some strong structural ideas, but narratively the fat-to-meat ratio was out of control.

    The whole time, I couldn’t shake the thought that we were watching a 2-hour feature that had been stretched to 8 hours. The plot diligently followed the 8-sequence approach, suggesting that each episode was actually 12-15 minutes of content ballooned into an hour.

    I could appreciate that kind of indulgence, if the story wasn’t built from such tired procedural cop plot points. Rather than improving those tropes though, the show just shrouded them in existential monologues and LOST-style mystery boxes that promised fresh answers but ultimately delivered only familiar payoffs, the minimum requirements of the genre.

    I’m excited about the limit series format and the freedom it can give to certain stories, but the danger is that networks will try to over-inflate stories meant for feature film runtimes, rather than reining in long form stories that might run out of steam with an open-ended series approach but could really sing with when given a clear shape.

    Done poorly, limited series give us the television equivalent of that HOBBIT trilogy – eight hours of screen time to tell a story that should have flew by in 90 minutes.

    • Kirk Diggler

      My friends raved about True Detective, said it was must see. It left me feeling rather blah. I think there is a group think mentality when it comes to popular tv shows.

      For every excellent Walking Dead episode there are three boring ones.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Yup. One great theme song, one breathtaking continuous shot, and a whole bunch of cod philosophy and crime clichés that added up to very little.

      • Malibo Jackk

        We should all be so lucky.

    • leitskev

      I agree with what you’ve said, and yet I liked TD a lot. One of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time and one of the few things that I really looked forward to watching. True, it was not fulfilling in the end, even disappointing, mostly because the mystery boxes were not matched with satisfying conclusions. So why did it work?

      Let’s start with the outstanding dialogue. I mean very rarely is dialogue done that well. I especially appreciated it as a writer.

      And the mystery boxes were effective, despite the unsatisfying conclusions.

      And there was the fine acting, dark tone and dark setting in rural La.

      But the storytelling succeeded mostly because it used a simple but smart formula that centered on the partnership. The emotional impetus draws from the central bond in the same way a romance or rom com or buddy movie does. It’s set up so that we want to see the two of them develop a tight bond, but there are serious obstacles in the way. The entire season was really about overcoming those obstacles and all that entailed. By telling the story in two time lines, it was a clever but nonetheless simple way of doing that. Both characters are vulnerable and both need each other. The friction between them is professional, philosophical, and personal. Both are deeply flawed men but deep down are good cops that want to stop the bad guy. You are correct that the structural plot points are stretched out over the season, but there are enough subplots to make each installment work. Simple is usually better when it comes to structure, and TD has a simple structure that works.

      • filmklassik

        “And the mystery boxes were effective, despite the unsatisfying conclusions.”

        My feeling is that if you raise a compelling question that rivets peoples’ attention for several hours, then provide them with an unsatisfactory answer, your story has failed. But that’s just me.

        I enjoyed TRUE DETECTIVE for a while… two or three episodes, maybe… until it became clear that the writer had NO FUCKING IDEA where he was going with the story. By a certain point, each new installment felt like he was treading water with red herrings, blind alleys, and pretentious philosophizing… until the admittedly harrowing finale, which was wonderful.

        But I agree that by the end, it felt like a good, well-acted, 2 1/2 feature padded out to eight hours.

        • leitskev

          It’s a really interesting topic, the mystery box. I watched the first episode of Lost on Netflix. They introduced this giant smoke monster thing crashing through the forest, and I remembered thinking as a writer, what could this ultimately be revealed to be that won’t be disappointing? And I couldn’t think of anything. So I was guessing the writers probably didn’t either, and rather than not reveal something lame, they just never revealed it. So I called a friend who had watched the series and she said that’s exactly what happened, they never revealed it. So I didn’t watch anymore of the series. I don’t like the idea of being disrespected as an audience that way.

          However, Lost was a huge success.

          When I was a kid a read a lot of horror, Stephen King kinda stuff. And one thing I learned was that the resolution of a mystery is almost always a disappointment. The cooler and more compelling the mystery, the more likely the reveal will be disappointing. It’s just very hard to live up to a cool set up.

          So what can I conclude from the fact that the smoke monster pissed me off, but TD’s unsatisfying reveal did not? Couple things: one, the writers must make the effort. Maybe they can’t quite come up with a reveal that matches the mystery, but at least make the effort. Don’t insult the audience by leading them along and then just dropping the ball because you figure it’s too late for them to quit. And two, expect to be a little disappointed. The reveal almost never lives up to a great build up.

          In TD, while the mystery did not have a satisfying end, other parts of the ending worked. Rust believed the universe was an empty and meaningless place and learned through his near death experience that this was not quite true. There is suffering and pain but there is love, a love which is simple and endures after death. Marty has a chance at redemption with his family. But most important, by far most important, there is a final bonding between Marty and Rust, a full cementing of their friendship. This is the very heart and focus of the narrative.

          As for the journey along the way, well, I thought the pretentious philosophizing was well done and original. So I’m not sure why it would be pretentious. I enjoyed it, and it was essential to Rust’s character. Because of the things that happened to him he lived in a dark world haunted by demons and he was clawing to the surface for a glimmer of light. The philosophizing was consistent with that.

          • filmklassik

            “And two, expect to be a little disappointed. The reveal almost never lives up to a great build up.”

            Yeah, I hear ya, leit, but I can’t quite bring myself to get on board with this. My favorite mystery/suspense stories have endings that more than live up to their beginnings. Then again, I’m an incredibly tough grader who has always subscribed to Sturgeon’s Law which holds that “90% of everything is crap.”

            I realize that “crap,” of course, is a very strong word and not always applicable, so please let me clarify: I’m not saying that a disappointing finale means the rest of the story has no value. That is not necessarily the case. Something can be interesting and enjoyable on its way to an ending that fizzles.

            But for me to strongly recommend something… particularly a genre piece… and want to watch it a second time… it must, to use brenkilco’s phrase, “nail the dismount.”

          • leitskev

            I was very disappointed by the final confrontation with the antagonist and the resolution of what was set up as a very powerful cult involving high ranking politicians, with hints of something if not supernatural at least something with a strong history. We ended up with a pervert who gangs his sister. So yeah, I was disappointed.

            But as a writer, I went back to rewatch episodes, and I still enjoy them. The style, the acting, the tone, and mostly the dialogue. I liked it enough that I would certainly follow these characters again if they were put in a new season(I think it’s all new characters and actors).

            And I’m actually a very tough grader myself. I’m not even much into film OR television. I’d much rather read. It’s not easy to win me over.

          • filmklassik

            Speaking for myself, I enjoyed the filmmaking and performances for all eight hours…they were wonderful… but the dialogue got old after three.

            But the grand finale, while disappointing as a solution to a mystery (once again, I’m convinced the writer had no fucking clue how everything fit together) was unbelievably suspenseful. From the moment McConnaughey and Harrelson pulled up to that crazy hillbilly’s house (maybe around the 35-minute mark) to the terrifying showdown in the maze, I was on the edge of my seat.

            And props to the writer for having the Harrelson character (who’s supposed to be bright but not a genius like McConnaughey) notice the big clue that finally leads them to the killer. A great, unexpected touch.

          • leitskev

            Agreed. It was suspenseful. And agreed, the writers didn’t know how to fit it all together. Though I think this is quite common with stories of this type, and at least they tried. And yeah, Harrelson is kind of the hero. He has ruined his family with his own selfish behavior, and used police work to excuse it, but he does have a heart, and though Rust betrayed him by having sex with his wife, he is the one who forgives in the end and cements the bond between the two. So the finale is satisfying from the suspense and emotional resolution angles.

            I watched part one of the Walking Dead for the first time last week. It had not interested me, but it’s a huge hit so I was curious as a writer. Different skills with these writers compared to TD. It begins with long dialogue which tries to be interesting but is not. However, the show has other strengths. It cleverly puts characters in situations where there is seemingly no way out, but then a clever way is found. That’s a great challenge for us writers and I respect how they did it.

          • brenkilco

            I wonder just how these mid form things get created. I suspect it’s one guy, a supervising producer/writer with an outline or a treatment who then brings in a writing team to flesh things out, add characters, create additional subplots. So there is a limit to how organic these things can be. I mean nobody sits down to write a script feeling he needs five hundred pages to tell his story.

          • filmklassik

            ” I mean nobody sits down to write a script feeling he needs five hundred pages to tell his story.”

            Unless this kind of storytelling has more in common with novels than it does with features, with more room for digressions, sub-plots, dangling plot strands, etc.

            I know that TRUE DETECTIVE was a singular vision, entirely written by one guy (a novelist and former college professor) but I’m not sure if that’s typically the case.

          • brenkilco

            I’d forgotten that TD was basically a one man show. But I still wonder. Did the writer sit down and come up with a story that would take eight hours to tell or did he sit down knowing he had to come up with something that would last eight hours?

          • filmklassik

            I think it was sold as a pitch, after the writer and a couple of non-writing producers met with McConaughey, explained the overall trajectory of the show and gave him a 60 page script for the first installment.

            On the strength of those pages and a rough outline for the next seven episodes, MM climbed aboard, and then HBO — being pitched a concept they liked with a bona fide movie star attached — agreed to the then-unusual idea of doing it as a limited series.

            So yeah, I think it was always conceived as a “mid form” with a beginning, middle, and end — but I could be wrong about that.

        • brenkilco

          Unless you’re adopting a densely plotted novel,(i.e. Tinker Tailor) ten hours seems an unnatural length for telling a single story. Hell, the Russian version of War and Peace is only eight hours long. But something is happening here in the way TV is consumed and digested. Audiences seem content to be immersed in a world, not just pushed along. And if curiosity is maintained, even a weak ending doesn’t seem fatal to these things. But I agree, if you don’t nail the dismount the thing is a failure.

          • filmklassik

            Yeah, I’ve enjoyed some long-form television but as I’ve said on here before, my favorite works of filmed entertainment — the stories I’ve loved and that have really stayed with me — have all been told in less than three hours. And usually in less than two.

            “Nailing the dismount” is a great metaphor — in fact I’ve just borrowed it (see my reply to leitskev).

    • Midnight Luck

      I think you may be right about True Detective. I wondered why everyone raves about it when I have tried watching the first episode three times and never gotten through it.
      I believe it is because it has taken 15 minutes of show and stretched it into an hour.
      to me the show hasn’t felt honest in its telling, or truthful.
      It has made me bored and frustrated and calling “Bullshit” one too many times.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Lived the way the first show ended with a punch line.

  • ripleyy

    I really love “The Following” but even I have to agree — when does it end? That show should have had two seasons and that’s it. And there’s a third and I’ll still watch it and I’ll probably still end up liking it, but some shows have much shorter lifespans than most.

    Why do you continue to watch “The Walking Dead”? Because you genuinely WANT to know what happens next week to Rick and the gang. It may be subconscious, but it’s absolutely there. You want to know. You want to see what they’re going to be facing. It may be dramatically slower in pace, but you still hold on and that’s why that’s such a great show (say what you will about it, its only downfall was Season 3).

    Same with, say, “Game of Thrones”. Again, slow pace but you genuinely want to know who’s going to end up on that Iron Throne. You want to see if someone is going to bump into someone else.

    I’m beginning to think the key to success is probably pacing. If your show is paced slowly, you have a much higher chance of having a successful show. Oddly enough, the slower the better. The trick is finding that balance.

    “True Detective” was fun, but it prided itself — excuse me for being brash, here — to stroke it’s dick at how intelligent it was and how big its ego got. Yes, it’s a great show, but at times I felt it was just pretentious for the sake of it. Rust said 97% of stuff NO ONE would ever say. I mean, Jesus Christ, the monologues was just incoherent mess… yet, to COMPLETELY flip around on what I just said, he was a great character PRECISELY because of that (I think).

    I mean the guy was so philosophical and deep… and somehow you just latched onto him. You have absolutely no idea why, but you just ended up watching that show because a) you had no idea who was the murderer, b) Rust, quite honestly and c) the interesting time-jumps.

    That show was flawed, but it just seemed to be different enough for everyone to like it. That success isn’t very difficult to recreate, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how people do their own interpretations of it.

    • Ninjaneer

      Pretentious Character vs pretentious show

      True Detective had a pretentious character but the show was not.

      Contrast that with something like the show “The Newsroom” where it is pretentious as a show. Or Upstream Color which most people feel is pretentious at its core.

    • Bacon Statham

      ”I’m beginning to think the key to success is probably pacing. If your show is paced slowly, you have a much higher chance of having a successful show.”
      To use The Walking Dead as an example, I haven’t it watched it myself (saw the first four episodes but gave up cause I was bored shitless), but I have a few friends who watch it. They say that it’s a good show, but the pacing is absolutely shit. They basically said the same thing Kirk Diggler said. That for every excellent episode there are three boring episodes. And this isn’t just a complaint I’ve heard from my friends, I’ve seen it mentioned on the net too. It makes me wonder how a show can be so successful when it’s completely hit or miss each week.
      But on the flipside of that, Game of Thrones (which I also haven’t seen, just going off what my friends say) has excellent pacing (there’s at least two bad/boring episodes per season according to one friend) and is also really successful. I’m just trying to think how one could do it so well and the other can’t. I’d probably have to watch them to understand.

      • ripleyy

        “The Walking Dead” will have episodes that are filter episodes, but I think it really does come down to the people. I’m open-minded enough to like/love every episode, except Season 3 which nearly caused me to never watch it ever again. I actually do think Season 4 and even Season 5 is the show starting to regain itself again.

        Also, there is the unknown direction. At times I don’t think we need much of a story in that show because you’re watching the characters. I’m quite content to watch the characters of that show dealing with a small problem whereas most will want stories every single episode. It isn’t perfect by any means, but there’s just something undeniably addictive about it.

        “Game of Thrones” is nicely paced. You won’t get a bad episode because there’s ten episodes per season (if I remember correctly). That means there’s no room for error. By constraining your show, you’re able to keep things air-tight. It’s why shows like “Arrow” (which I watch and also like) falter sometimes because they have twenty episodes per series. There’s that sloppiness to it as well that I won’t deny. I mean, at times, the logic in both “Arrow” and “The Flash” is wonky as hell. The sloppiness is really just down to the show not having a constraint to keep itself paced.

        It is really interesting to know a show can’t just have a great story, or great characters, but things like pacing is just as important.

        • Bacon Statham

          The main four programmes I watch at the moment are Suits, Arrow, Agents of Shield and Supernatural. The last three suffer from really bad pacing. I actually gave up on Agents of Shield during the first half of season one, but decided to give it another shot and ended up losing interest again at the same time during season two, but again decided to give it another shot.

          Suits is the only one that has good pacing. It’s sixteen episodes per season. The first ten episodes usually deal with a major storyline, episodes 11, 12 and 13 deal with the fallout of the major storyline, and episodes 14, 15 and 16 set up next season’s major storyline. It works quite well, but I do think it could stand to lose three episodes.

          I have heard that TWD suffers from several filler episodes where it makes the season drag for much longer than is needed. I think it would be better suited if there was only ten episodes per season. I know that season four had several ”walking” episodes. To me that just kills the pacing of the show.
          13 seems like the standard amount but there’s still at least two episodes that serve as filler. 23 is way too much though. By then I just want it to be over. I lost interest in The Sarah Connor Chronicles by episode ten of season two and only watched the last three episodes when I heard it was gonna end.

          • ripleyy

            I heard Suits is quite good (and I also heard the soundtrack is pretty great, too) but have yet to watch it.

            It annoys me that Arrow has its faults, but for whatever reason I can’t really stop watching it. I guess I’m just stubborn and I’ll stick through it. Arrow has longevity, but like you said, the pacing is pretty weird and for once I really just wish they’d give up on the whole flashback thing (flashbacks to the island made sense, flashbacks to Hong Kong do not).

            AOS, on the other hand, I never actually saw the pacing issues which is also interesting.

          • Bacon Statham

            Suits is really good. It’s my favourite show on TV at the moment. The soundtrack is one of the best parts about it. I’ve got a lot of musicians I’ve never heard of before on my Ipod because of it.

            I agree about Arrow. It’s got its faults, but I can’t stop watching it. The main problem I have with it are the flashbacks, yet they’re the reason I keep watching it. I have to know what happened during those five years. I hate that they took Oliver off the island and put him in Hong Kong because it feels artificial. It doesn’t feel like a natural progression. The moment I started scratching my head was when Oliver locked Slade up on the island at the end of season two. It felt too convenient. There just so happens to be a prison on the island where Oliver was stranded for five years. Fuck off! I can buy a dude in a hood shooting arrows at criminals, but I can’t buy that.

            I don’t think AOS had any pacing issues, I just didn’t like the case of the week formula. I’m not a big fan of it unless it’s giving me something to look forward to. Until it connected to The Winter Soldier, I didn’t really bother with it, then once it did, I was hooked. I wanted to see what happened next. Then in season two I didn’t care enough about Coulson’s sketching to keep watching and then it grabbed my interest again when I heard what happened during the last episode that aired.

          • ripleyy

            Yeah the prison thing didn’t make any sense in Arrow. I just assumed it was built afterwards but even that is a stretch. I could care less about the Hong Kong stuff though, or even how Malcolm ended up becoming who he is (though I did end up enjoying that flashback). Plus, I really like Stephen Amell. He’s a pretty good actor and is convincing enough to really buy into the whole Arrow universe (just don’t get me started on Felicity and Oliver’s “relationship”. Blah!)

            And I agree with the case-of-the-week thing with AOS. It’s gotten pretty good and I look forward to seeing it when it comes back.

    • filmklassik

      Seems like many people agree that slooooow pacing and “episodes where nothing much happens” are hunky dory, whereas I grew up believing the (mis?)conception that every scene should advance a specific and compelling STORY… and that that story should come to a definite conclusion, offering, yes, a feeling of CATHARSIS for the viewer.

      Long-form and even “mid form” TV will never — at least in my mind — offer the same catharsis that a well-scripted 2 or 3 hour movie or stage play can, but most people disagree with me. It would appear that I am being overtaken by history.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      All of Cohle’s philosophizing was directly lifted from Thomas Ligotti’s “The Conspiracy against the Human Race” :) An intense and bleak read if there ever was one… Cohle’s early monologue in the car ? Ligotti’s entire book is like that but it doesn’t come off as pretentious since it demonstrates his personal beliefs. Taken out of context and applied to a TV show character, it comes off as deep and/or pretentious, although Pizzolatto should be commended for creating a character completely in tune with everything he lifted from the book.

      I loved TD – atmosphere, soundtrack, actors/characters… And I like the format as well which would be attactive to writers everywhere, no ? I have no desire to see season 2, though.

      • ripleyy

        Well, it looks like I’ve found the perfect book for someone, haha. But I agree that somethings should remain in context. In fact, it’s interesting to see how much of TD is lifted from different sources. I will say this, nothing like TD has ever existed. It’s reasons for that, that despite my love/hate relationship with it, that I’ll always respect it.

        The format is quite attractive and I would love to see more shows like it. As for Season 2, I’m actually quite curious. I guess we’ll just have to see when it airs. :)

  • Midnight Luck

    I agree, but I think it all comes down to how it is done. I think TV CAN help you get to know your characters better, but I think most, if not all, have failed to utilize the strength of “time” they hold.
    The characters in When Harry Met Sally are phenomenally drawn, as are the characters in Casablanca, and SEVEN, yet most have very little screen time.
    Take John Doe. He has almost no screen time, yet the car ride with him and the detectives, we feel that we know him TOO intimately.
    I can’t think of a single TV character I feel I know as well as any of these film characters.
    Honestly I think having all this time can be detrimental when it comes to TV. Authors feel they have so much time they can drag out reveals and insight forever, and then by the end we still don’t feel we know anyone that well. Yes sometimes the mystery of the characters is part of the interest of the show, but still in the end you are left with characters you didn’t really know.
    The only shows that have come close for me are Six Feet Under and Dexter. But even Mad Men, which I enjoy, do we really “know” any of the characters? Don Draper had surprises about who he was, but I don’t feel I “know” him at all.

    • filmklassik

      Very well expressed.

      I think I’ve said this to you before, Midnight: The stories and characters that have had the profoundest effect on me as a viewer, have been the ones found in 2-hour motion pictures, not serialized TV shows.

  • Casper Chris

    Yes, more miniseries please. Good to see you warming up to it, big C.

  • august4

    Btw… Christopher Dorner was NUTS!! You don’t kill the innocent DAUGHTER and boyfriend of someone who DEFENDED you without being kooky!!

  • susanrichards

    Does anyone have this?

  • filmklassik

    ‘But mostly I think the 90-minute to two hour feature is a better length of time for story.”

    Hear, hear!

    • drifting in space

      I second this.

  • fragglewriter

    Great tip Carson. I think that is why Law & Order stood the test of time. They used headlines and just pushed the envelope.

  • MichaelAQ

    It will be interesting to see how many networks embrace anthologies. This particular one doesn’t jump out at me as exciting. Good cop in a bad system has been done. Like Carson’s article from last week, I need a new angle.

  • Emotionoid

    Hi friend, I would be glad if you could send it my way. mazhar.mohd@gmail.com. Thanks.

  • susanrichards

    susanrichards 63 at gmail dot com