Sat. Oct 1st, 2022
Screenshot from the Watchmen TV series premiere.
enlarge A small army of Rorschachs.

YouTube/HBO

HBO’s choice to adapt two critically acclaimed book series, Game of Thrones and guards, may seem like a case of two peas in a pod. They are groundbreaking works in their respective fields with cult followings and “unmodifiable” reputations.

But Got and guards differ in one important respect: where they sit on the spectrum of “epic television”. Both examples undoubtedly prove, in very different ways, that TV shows don’t have to last several seasons to be considered “great.”

When Game of Thrones ended in May this year, a small cottage industry of worries worried that this was somehow the end of HBO. But the channel is already back with a new high-profile series, inspired by Alan Moore’s comic classic guards† Showrunner Damon Lindelof insists that like the source comic, he intends to stick to a “limited series”, rather than intending to run the series for multiple seasons.

HBOs guards the results so far have been promising – and recalling the golden age of the TV miniseries. What happens when the run of a series is really limited and the stakes of each episode matter? Let’s rewind to other classic, memorable examples of the limited series to argue for what guards seems to be going well.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (BBC series)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell trailer

Some series are willing to take a thin 300-page novel and stretch it to season after season of TV. At the other end of the spectrum, there are the BBCs Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell† The story of Susanna Clarke, set on an alternate, magical Earth, is a doorstop of a story. (My copy is 1006 pages.) Most production studios would have made it half a dozen seasons. But the BBC has condensed the events of the novel into one seven-episode story.

The series used the medium’s imagery to shape the buildup of the world, relying on the audience to absorb through the environment what the novel needed pages and pages of footnotes to explain. It proved that there was no need to discuss the point. In fact, the series strayed from the book’s undecided ending, where Lascelles was murdered, for example, and the disappearance of Norrell and Strange into another dimension felt less like a loose end and more like the only outcome that could possibly make sense. .

guards (Funny)

In the world of comic books, nothing ever ends, and that has been the reality ever since the format became popular in the United States in 1938. Superman radio plays that lasted so long that they became TV series, to the current Marvel Cinematic Universe, this is a genre in which not even death can stop the next song. But not guards

Alan Moore and David Gibbons defied what was not just an accepted norm but a hallmark of the entire body of superheroes by creating a single series of 12 songs with a definitive ending from which there was no miraculous return for anyone. (Not that DC Comics didn’t try.) Rather than repel the public, it earned the series the respect that is rarely bestowed on comics. By limiting the characters to a single adventure, guards only explored the lives of his characters during this little slice of time. For example, we never learn how the emotional blow of carrying the secret of the “Alien Monster” hoax affects these characters emotionally in the long run. Instead, they will forever remain as strange and complicated in the reader’s imagination as they were when it began.

Good omens (novel, Amazon series)

Like comics, fantasy is another genre where authors will continue to produce volume after volume. One of the brilliant exceptions to this rule is the collaboration between Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, with their satirical story of the apocalypse, Good omens† The book was wildly popular and it would have been easy for the two beloved authors to continue a collaboration. But part of the reason the book laughs is the brevity of it all. Any attempt to keep it going would surely have failed as the novelty of that first hit thinned out. After all, once you’ve stopped the apocalypse, is there really a way to top it in a sequel?

Plus, many of the funniest bits can be screaming funny the first time, but they can get tired if stretched. Rewriting biblical passages to reflect modern British parlance, such as “26 And the angel said, ‘I just had it here, I must have put it somewhere, forget my own head after this'” is wonderful. But they would never be enough to sustain a trilogy.

But not only the book opts for brevity. When Amazon Studios agreed to an adaptation, the streaming service went with a single six-episode run instead of stretching it over multiple seasons. You only wish STARZ had done the same for Gaiman’s other novel-turned-TV adaptation, american godsthat drags on long after the novelty wears off.

Chernobyl (HBO series)

Like Game of Thrones ended, HBO accidentally reminded the world that fantasy and long-running series weren’t the only road to a hit. Chernobyl was brutally short, totaling five episodes, in which the series delved into the corrupt government layers that both caused the accident and compounded the damage with a cover-up. While it condensed history to make the bigger point, it kept the story super tight.

This meant that scenes of those exposed to fallout were never too long, and the pacing meant that even the worst scenes, such as the massacre of infected dogs, were left as much to the public’s imagination as they were on screen. This allowed the audience to take in the horror of the incident without ever feeling it was meaningless. By the time the finale rolled around, the series had done the impossible. It defeated HBO’s most-watched titan, Game of Thrones, in digital viewers. It turns out that all you need to get the audience tuned in is a compelling story well told.

By akfire1

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