I have recently found myself being more interested in TV series rather than full-length films. This is not to say that I still don’t go to the cinema whenever possible, but when at home, I have started watching more and more series. It has also been my observation that most of my friends and acquaintances have adopted the same habit.
It used to be the case that TV actors and actresses were considered second class to Hollywood’s A-listers, but nowadays it seems that small screen actors are the ones with growing fan bases and constant contracts going their way. Even some of the film industry’s biggest names (Ashton Kutcher, Jeremy Irons, Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Quaid, Kevin Bacon to name a few) seem to have switched their acting preferences in favour of series.
So why is this the case? What do series have on features?
Maybe the reason is that series let you develop a deeper relationship with the characters and provide an insight to every story that is impossible for films to create in just 2 hours. Even more so, they build eagerness among fans in the wait for every new episode, which is constantly perpetuated during the running of each season. And while with a greater number of episodes, there is a higher likelihood of preposterous twists, fans tend to stay loyal which is not always the case with long-living movie franchises.
However, TV series also seem to be more careful, and thus predictable, while building their premises. Precisely because of the development of the deeper relationship that I mentioned earlier, fans would likely be less forgiving if the story line does not go in the direction they want it to. But wouldn’t this take away series’ edge? What is the point of watching something you know the eventual ending of?
Well, I have found that things are changing in this regard. Take Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead as examples. Both series appear to disregard which characters fans favour and have little concern as to whether they are main characters when series writers have (sometimes literally) these characters’ heads flying. And although shock and “I can’t believe they just did that”-attitude (see my reaction to the infamous Game of Thrones S03E09 Red Wedding below) appear to keep fans even more hooked, are there lines that even the boldest series won’t cross?
Taking Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead as examples again, what would happen if most viewers’ favourite characters Jon Snow (Game of Thrones) and Daryl (The Walking Dead) were to meet unfortunate ends? Granted Game of Thrones is based on books and The Walking Dead on comic books, I guess it is not entirely up to the makers of the show to decide the fates of the separate characters, but then again it is not unheard of for TV show’s scenarios to deviate from the plotlines in books. But then there are the series like Spartacus and Rome which, being loosely based on historical events, cannot allow certain frivolities.
Thus, although the journey is just as important as the final destination with regard to series, is it better to have an outcome that everyone likes but expects, or one that people might be displeased with but stunned nevertheless? TV series seem to be moving in the direction of finding the golden middle. Maybe Hollywood can take a lesson or two away…after all it is the small fish who tend to be more inventive, because they need to be in order to survive.