Culture: Television: Series
Indeterminately segmented TV drama series   (+7)  [vote for, against]

There are two problems with how TV dramas are segmented into episodes. For example, a police procedural 'whodunnit?' crime drama might be a series of eight one-hour shows, and this structure makes the narrative predictable. The first problem is at the level of the episode; if the episode has been going for 50 minutes, and nothing much is happening, then you can be absolutely sure something very dramatic is about to happen in the last 10 minutes to create a 'cliff- hanger' for the next episode. The second problem is similar and is at the 'series' level; if you're watching episode 4 out of 8, you know that they're not going to get close to solving the case in that episode and that anything that looks like that will be a false trail. You also know that in episode 7 of 8 the protagonists will encounter some terrible setback or mortal peril, in order for that to be neatly resolved in the final episode.

Thus, this idea is to add unpredictability for the viewer both to the length of each episode, and also to the number of episodes in the series. By varying the episode length between 20 and 90 minutes, viewers will be less able to predict when the episode is nearing its conclusion. Likewise, by varying the number of episodes in the series between 1 and 15, the viewer will be less aware of an obvious narrative arc plodding its way towards a conclusion. It goes without saying that neither the length of the episode nor the number of episodes in the series should be revealed to the viewer.

Any extra space this creates in the TV schedules can be filled with documentary-style background material on the story, or a history of cheese.
-- hippo, May 09 2021

Tim Rogers on spoilers
[calum, May 12 2021]

Les Murray https://www.poetryl...dneck-poems-0569000
A redneck with a sense of irony. For [xenzag], I particularly recommend "The Bohemian Occupation". [pertinax, May 13 2021]

There's "rednecks" and there's "Rednecks"
Depends on context... [neutrinos_shadow, May 13 2021]

I can imagine scheduling difficulties etc but the idea is great.
-- xenzag, May 09 2021

I like cheese. [+]
-- Voice, May 09 2021

"While angry from Manchester writes to complain about All the repeats on T.V." - Del Amitri
-- AusCan531, May 10 2021

Excellent, though I think that the upper and lower bounds are lacking in ambition. For example, episode two of the inevitable new series of the UK's smotheringly mannered naughty policemen programme "Line of Duty" could (perhaps should) consist of just twenty-three seconds of the pre-interview tape beep, episode three is five hours and eleven minutes of variations on "...for the benefit of the tape item ee aitch thirteen is a photograph of said canal boat registered in the name of..." and episode four is seventy-six seconds of policemen staring at each other with unconcealed contempt.
-- calum, May 10 2021

Yes, I look forward to the next series of 'Line of Duty', confident that they'll see the wisdom of adopting your approach, [calum].

Looking at how this applies to ordinary crime drama series, I'm guessing that in actual police-work most crimes are solved really quickly, or take ages to solve, or are never solved at all. This would result in the crime drama series being either just a single 30-second episode, or around 50 episodes of between 45 and 180 minutes. I suppose it's OK for the people who make crime dramas to choose not to dramatize this kind of crime, but only those which take a reasonable, but not too long time, to solve.
-- hippo, May 11 2021

[bigsleep] so you’re agreeing with me but voting against the idea?
-- hippo, May 12 2021

Maybe - you're disagreeing with a different idea to the one I posted though
-- hippo, May 12 2021

I'm with Hippo on this. A variable cadence of the format of a TV series is inventive and would add entertainment value. Bigsleep is just very grumpy today and may have stubbed his toe when he was out getting his daily tyre kicking session. [aside - idea for a Redneck gym... tyres to kick, riot shields to headbutt, a "roaring chamber" to shout into, swamp room sauna, purple with rage grimacing mirrors, tarpaulin wrangling machine.. etc.]
-- xenzag, May 12 2021

Having thought about this some more, I see a direct parallel between hippo's awareness of unelapsed episode duration and Tim Rogers's analysis of what constitutes a spoiler (the linked video is by itself more than enough to render the youtube platform a net good and, as you'd imagine with that sort of quality, definitely worth watching if you are at a loose end).

//You either enjoy watching something or you don't. If you start creating a meta-narrative about timing you're probably no longer enjoying it. Have you tried films ?//
Films have the same problem and additionally tend to have a slightly worse but slightly different form of the same problem - the three act structure, which gives the attentive viewer a pretty good shot at estimating (a) how long is left of the film or or indeed and (b) what is going to happen next. In capitulating to the three act structure, the film sows the seeds of its own in film spoilerisation (cf. Tim Rogers). TV programmes don't have to adhere to that structure - soaps for instance are, when taken as a whole, as at least as digressive as a motherfucker. hippo's idea is to remove the predictability, which is laudable.

A print based solution would be to have a book that releases a poison gas if you peek ahead to discover how long you have of each chapter.
-- calum, May 12 2021

There is a limit, however. If the storyline doesn't have any foreshadowing or near-predictability, people are going to just stare blankly and think the plot doesn't make any sense. The three acts sortof create themselves. We have to get to know the characters and be emotiomally connected. They have to do something that challenges them and us by extension. Otherwise it's just like watching paint dry.
-- RayfordSteele, May 12 2021

Indeed [calum], and I enjoyed that video - an excellent blend of paranoia and obsession!

One issue with books is that the bulk of book in your right hand as you're reading it gives you a clue as to how close you're getting to the climax of the plot. This can be solved in a similar fashion to the TV drama series, by padding out the end of books with anything between 0 and 200 pages of a history of cheese.
-- hippo, May 12 2021

//One issue with books is that the bulk of book in your right hand as you're reading it gives you a clue as to how close you're getting to the climax of the plot. This can be solved in a similar fashion to the TV drama series, by padding out the end of books with anything between 0 and 200 pages of a history of cheese.//

A superior option for book version is described in some detail in the book Godel, Escher, Bach- an eternal golden braid.
-- Loris, May 12 2021

Ooh, an Escher plotline that ends right back at the start again...
-- RayfordSteele, May 13 2021

//idea for a Redneck gym/

[xenzag], a redneck is any Caucasian who works out of doors in a hot country. Please dial down the lazy sterotypes. Also, see the poetry of Les Murray (linked).
-- pertinax, May 13 2021

[Loris] Can you remind me? It’s some decades since I read that book!
-- hippo, May 13 2021

The variable segments could be packed with a selection from one of the wide range of clever shorts currently available.
-- wjt, May 15 2021

<checks out link > [a1] I think your idea might be a bit restrictive - you need to think outside the box…
-- hippo, May 15 2021

// a redneck is any Caucasian who works out of doors in a hot country//Thanks for the suggestion..... adds on an outside area to Redneck gym idea, where there are giant tractor tyres hanging up that can be pounded with various implements under under a scorching sun.
-- xenzag, May 15 2021

Oooh, I can't wait for the clever actual race shorts. Personally tailored for sizes and, of course, need.
-- wjt, May 16 2021

random, halfbakery