Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When Things Don't Make Sense: Part II

I posted over the weekend about how I learned lessons regarding storytelling from watching bad TV. Well, I also learned some lessons from my previous post about blogging.
1) Don't make it too long. I'm sure there is a sweet spot that a post needs to be to keep folks from drifting as they read. If so, I zipped right on past it last time. I tend to go long in everything I write (except for novels, which I seem to write short), but I'll try to keep this to a more manageble length.
2) Related to point one above. I need to make my point and then support it. A meadering story first, then getting to the point later does no good. Since most of the folks seem to have quit reading by then, I should make points early, meander later.
3) Be better with follow up comments. I do enjoy seeing people comment, I really do. I read them, sometimes multiple times if they're witty. I always intend to acknowlege that. But then again, how many folks actually come back to read my follow up comments? Still, that doesn't absolve me of my poor ettiqute, etiquitte, etiquite.... behavior. 
So - in answer to the cliffhanger ending, which I'm sure left you all holding your breath, here is the huge lesson I've learned about watching shows that don't make sense...
It doesn't matter.
I was watching Stargate because so many people love it and I thought I would give it a shot. The Incredible Hulk I watched because I loved it when I was a kid. Both shows have some serious issues (again, only referring to season 1 of Stargate).
Both shows had a huge following, didn't get cancelled early on, and in Stargate's case, did lead to the cancellation of my favorite (and in my opinion, superior) show, Farscape. That they were actually producing bad television was incidental. It shows that that there is still a bit of a mystery to gathering a fanbase.
So, before anyone complains that it doesn't make sense that I can proclaim Farscape superior when I didn't see Stargate at it's best, I'll just say that is my point. Things don't make sense. Popularity can be entirely independent of quality, and vice-versa. Sometime opinions are formed first, and whether or not reality conforms to those opinions is irrelevant.
I'm feeling fickle, I've decided that my arguments don't have to make sense any more. We'll experiment on that in the real world for a few days and see how it goes. I'll post the results of my experiment soon so we can all learn how that goes.


mooderino said...

I don't think your posts are that long. Mind you that's probably because I go on a bit myself.

Andrew Leon said...

>looks back at it his own last post and compares it to Rusty's< No, yours aren't long. :P

It's often true that the writing in a show doesn't matter as much as the actors and their chemistry with each other. I'll pick two different shows to stand against each other: Babylon 5 and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

From a story viewpoint, Next Gen was... how shall I put this? um... Crap. I mean, did you ever just sit down and watch the 1st season? Or, for that matter, most of the subsequent episodes of all of the seasons? But! People loved the characters. Even Wesley. For a while. And they didn't care about the cheesy stories because what they really cared about was the characters.

Babylon 5, on the other hand, has one of the greatest story arcs in sci-fi TV ever. Written by a great writer. Completely planned out in advance. A 5-year story arc. It's got some great writing. But the characters are not as engaging. In fact, they had to change out some of the actors due to... issues... with the audience reaction to them.

All of this says: great writing does not equal a great show. It also says that a great, or even just very good, can often save a show with not so good writing.
None of which is exactly fair.

I could swivel the spotlight onto comic books and the ill-conceived notion that a bunch of artists could off and start their own company without any writers, but that's probably a story for another time.

Liz said...

Season 1 of Stargate is weak. It got a lot better. (I still miss it.)

Andrew Leon said...

Look! My response is as long as your post! :P
I hope you didn't fall asleep before you got to the end.

Rusty Webb said...

Mooderino - Thanks, I'm always looking for permission to do things I want to do but think I shouldn't.

Andrew - Thanks for the long comment, I'm glad you put it there. It makes me think you have thoughts on the topic. I've suspected for a while that most folks skim the blog when its long and then guess about what I was trying to say.

The whole purpose of having a blog feels, at least for me, a bit... um, what's the word, for it? Presumptuous maybe? Presumptuous of me to think anyone is really interested in what I have to say about any topic. So I blather about whatever and some folks are nice enough to acknowledge me. I think that's more than I have a right to expect anyway.

If I credentials in something, then I might expect more of an indulgence.

But you're right about Star Trek, as I'm sure most of the defenders of Stargate have said the same about that show... it's the characters that keep people coming back. The rest is just background that gives them something to act against.

Liz - I have heard that, and truth be known, I think most sci-fi shows struggled out of the gate.

Andrew again - I didn't fall asleep, I did take a break to get some coffee, but I made it through. I'm kidding. I wish everyone wrote more in depth responses. It'd be great to actually have a conversation via the comments.

Rogue Mutt said...

I came to the same realization to make my entries shorter because in reading other blogs it doesn't seem like a lot of people write entries that are that long. As for comments, I like to respond to comments, but you're right that most people don't bother to come back to respond to your response; they have other things to do!

Anonymous said...

I keep my posts between 200-600 words. Usually. And I always find gaps in the plot regardless of the show, some more than others. But I roll with it, unless the show is really awful like Event Horizon. Man, that was a real stinker of a movie. Mystery Science Theatre 3000 wouldn't touch that one.

Andrew Leon said...

(This is also to Rogue) I always come back to respond to the response if it's something that invites a response. When I was a kid, my mom always wanted me to send a Thank You card in response to Thank You cards. I always thought that was just about the dumbest thing ever. It's got to stop somewhere, you know? However, I do "subscribe" to the responses when I make one to make sure that I don't miss something that I should respond to. Probably, many people don't do that, which I can understand. I just happen not to be one of those people.

And, Rusty, the whole idea of blogs is more than a bit presumptuous, but I think it's one of things that has taken the place of hanging out at the fence and talking to your neighbors. We all just blog, instead.

And to make another comment that's actually, kind of, related to the post, what I really hate is going back and watching a show I loved when I was younger, usually something I loved as a kid, and finding out how bad it is. Then, I think, "I can't believe I used to watch that! And liked it!"

The Golden Eagle said...

It's strange to watch what becomes popular and what doesn't--so often popularity seems to have no regard for what makes sense.

If I'm about to write a long post (and sometimes I just think it's necessary, despite the fact people often get bored and leave or skip to the end) I usually put a warning that it will take them time to read it.

Rusty Webb said...

Rogue - I felt guilty saying it, I'm glad you agree.

Stephen - probably a good idea, I rarely get inspired for a post, when I do they tend to be longer, although I can also run long if I'm not sure what I want to say so I write until I feel like I should stop. Then of course, I hit publish and read it the next day and wonder what I was thinking. Having a word limit would probably be a good idea, at least for those days I'm just rambling.

Andrew - I used to regularly sign up for email updates for comments, but once, when I was doing so, I didn't realize 87 people would place comments after mine - mostly saying things like, "good post," and "Interesting." I was pissed enough that I decided that I'll just check back when I can from now on.

Either that or visit less popular blogs.

Golden Eagle - It's thoughtful of you to warn people. If I find a topic interesting, and the poster seems to making a point, I generally like longer posts anyway. But again, you can only read so many per day and lots of people are trying to follow hundreds of others. It's difficult to really do anyone justice when you're trying to read that much.