Thursday, November 11, 2010

And we liked it!

Zack Handlen's write-up of the classic Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds" (part one here, part two here) has some interesting insights into how television viewing has changed over the past 20 years:
I don't think I watched "Worlds" when it originally aired, so I have no idea if people actually believed Picard was lost. I kind of doubt they did, given Beverly's comments, and seeing as how we never actually see Worf firing the Magic Bullet that will supposedly take out the Borg cube; most cliffhangers don't resolve by just giving us the most obvious next step. But this was back before everyone knew about actor's contracts, before every casting development hit the Internet before the ink was dry. Plus, the episode is structured in such a way as to strongly indicate that Picard is on his way out.
Yes, secrecy and mystery are important to make any sort of creative endeavor more interesting. But there is also the possibility of picking up on different perspectives and missed details, which is a plus with one considers how much more sophisticated television has gotten since the 90s. I find it interesting that the cliffhanger seems to be out of favor these days--DVDs have encouraged people to see the season and not the episode as the fundamental indivisible unit of television, making the season-ending cliffhanger feel lazy instead of thrilling. Plus, after 24 ended every episode with a cliffhanger, and sometimes even put multiple cliffhangers in a single episode, it just seems like a tired device by now. But there is something to be said for the shock value of something like "Worlds", coupled with having to wait three months before seeing the conclusion.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.