cleaning up so well (jones_casey) wrote,
cleaning up so well
jones_casey

on the craft (we all live in a yellow submarine)


i'm listening to rdm episode podcast commentary for season three episode thirteen. the woman king.

one plus: he's very candid about the flaws in the episode. and very candid in general.
another plus: he's very candid about the absinthe he's drinking during the podcast. *jealous*.
i need to be drinking abinthe while listening to the podcast. :(
another plus: he candidly tells his wife she's wrong when she insists that she hasn't seen the episode before because she would've remembered commenting on bruce davidson. i was glad to see bruce davidson show up, but sorry that it was in such a poor episode.
one minus: jokes about goth music and wrist-slitting are also tired and unfunny ab initio.

while unwilling to admit it's a poor episode, he talks about the problems with it. how it doesn't say anything new, or lift the show into a new realm. it's not transcendant and doesn't break new ground. its trope of uncovering hidden prejudice is tired. and then the tired tv staple of the patient who refuses medical treatment for cultural reasons being grafted onto the sagittarians.

another plus: he talks about how the plot contains a lot of elements from a never-used storyline, and how he made the best of what was there since it was already in the can when it was clear the storyline wouldn't be used.


and then he starts the episode fourteen commentary with: "this episode did not turn out as well as i think we had all hoped it would. i think there's a variety of reasons why. and we will discuss them today, as we often have on shows that haven't turned out quite as strong as we had initially hoped. what's interesting, to sort of step back and give an overview of the show, and sort of the rhythms and currents of the series: there's a spate of stand-alone episodes, some of which are more successful than others, occurring here in the second half of season three. shows like 13, 14, and to an extent 15 though i think in some ways it's the strongest of the three. in any case there's a trio here of stand-alone episodes that didn't quite come together and aren't quite as strong as i think many of us had hoped. and that parallels certain things that happened in the second season where we also had a spate of stand-alone-ish kind of episodes that didn't quite come together as strongly. we spent some time looking for systemic reasons or managerial reasons of why we come to this place in the second half of the season and tend to have trouble. and i'm not sure that there is a reason other than just bad story decisions."

he goes on to talk about the day-in-the-life staple tool to do a character study used in the episode: "it's a very tricky structure that appears on its surface to be simpler than it really is...the first thing that you run into in structuring a day-in-the-life type episode is that almost by definition a day-in-the-life is not supposed to have any thing very dramatic in it. conceptually you're doing a show that is just a typical day, and tv episodes and films are all about atypical days, they're all about the unusual/dramatic/amazing/mysterious/funny thing that happened that day, not the typical thing that happened that day. so you're already going into a counterintuitive place when you're approaching the story. and what tends to happen through the story development process is that in order to tell that story effectively in a television format you inevitably find some device, some plot thing that will happen on a typical day that illustrates [the powerful elements of the everyday environment that distinguish every single day from other everyday environments].

i just watched an episode of house that failed in that regard by doing a day in the life of cuddy by using a once-in-a-blue-moon 'save the hospital from going bankrupt and failing!!!' super-dramatic variation of her daily power struggles as an administrator. c'est la.

as always we take what we can from them despite the flaws.
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