Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Pacing, pacing, pacing.

I have watched the first four episodes of Slings and Arrows S1 with my workout this week, and there are only six episodes in each season of it, so it's not entirely unfair of me to talk about it at this point in the viewing. And there are good things about this show--well, okay, the main good thing, actually, is Paul Gross, who once again has a way of playing characters who are passionately committed to a reality that is at about a twenty degree angle from consensus reality. (If you don't watch S&A, you might know Gross as Benton Fraser from due South; otherwise the odds are against non-Canadians knowing him at all.)

But the thing that's really striking me is the same thing that's struck me about the worse class of novellas I've read in the last few years. Better novellas have their own pacing. Worse novellas have the setup of a novel and the payoff of a short story. Do I need to say that this is not satisfying? This is not satisfying. I don't mean it only in terms of plot. Plot is not the only thing. I mean that when you spend the entire first third of a thing saying who everybody is and where they are and what it is they're doing in general, before you even start the rising action, you have to have an incredibly charming voice and intriguing premise before you ever go anywhere with it in order to make the audience feel that something satisfying has happened. Not only should plot not wait until the middle to start, but neither should character arc, neither should any change that's happening in the setting, neither should thematic development (instead of thematic exposition).

I keep seeing this, and it's like the professional version of that thing that happens when you go to tell someone a funny thing that happened to someone you know very well. If you have to explain four things about the year you were 12 before you can get to a one-sentence punchline...either the four things also need to be interesting and funny, or you should probably save the story of the funny thing for someone to whom you can say, "You know Kelly? Well, Kelly said...."

In fiction, you have to convince people that they know Kelly. Fast. Or at least you have to convince them that they want to.
Tags: full of theories, small screen
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