Friday, June 23, 2017

The difference between doing a Mystery in a Stand Alone format or a Serialized one

The thing about great mystery movies, or movies with a good shocking twist like The Sixth Sense or the original Scream who's mystery element I feel did work really well.  Is that when you look back and re-watch it you think "how did I not see that?".

If your consuming the entire story in one sitting.  You don't adequately have the time to aynalize everything.  And if they story is good and engaging you'll be too engrossed to put things together.

However if The Sixth Sense had been broken into 6 smaller films you watched separated by a week each or even a day.  You would have thought about all those things you noticed on the re-watch.  And someone would have predicted the inevitable twist.

Therefore serialized mysteries simply can't recreate that.  Either the right answer will be guessed by some faction of the fan-base, or the key to the mystery is something not adequately revealed to the audience(and sometimes even then those factors might be guessed at).  To me it is always the second option that feels like a cop out.

Or the third option is to pull an answer out of your @$$ that makes no real sense. And even then someone probably guessed it.

And even if you are in the future binging the entire series in only half a day.  You're still taking breaks however short.  Hence comments sections of Anime streaming sites are filled with speculation on each episode by people as if they were watching it new even though the comments were made years later.

All that can apply just to a miniseries, or an Anime that was only ever meant to have one season.  Where it is plausible the writers actually planned everything out in advance. But if something is going to be ongoing, then all of that is compounded even more so.

Now I as a fan of serialized fiction in general can enjoy a show with mystery elements in-spite of all those factors.  I have loved almost unconditionally the entire nonsensical ride that Pretty Little Liars has taken me on.  With any ongoing show it's about the journey not the destination.  I've seen a lot of Anime critics especially going on and on about how an ending can make or break a show, and I couldn't disagree more.  My mixed feelings to how Smallville ended does not take away what that show once meant to me.

However, the thing is, this is why the whole "Mystery Box" approach to Star Wars rubs me the wrong way.  I'm not like other people saying Star Wars shouldn't even have mysteries.  It's that we now have a movie series forfeiting the one and only advantage movies have over TV in telling a mystery story, because this Trilogy was started by someone who's biggest success was launching a hit TV series.

There are plenty other examples of films planned to have sequels leaving things open for them.  But here the whole "Who is Rey" question is being treated as central to the entire story.  And yet equally central is the assumption that we probably won't know the answer till Episode IX.  So that it's dominating the conversation of the build up to Episode VIII feels like a waste.

We have trailers spending two minutes not clarifying something the movie will equally not clarify in two hours.  I tolerate that fine when normally a week is what I have to wait between episodes.  But now it's two years between episodes and my ability to care is running thin.

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