We are storytellers. It’s in our blood. Ever since small groups of hunters and gatherers sat around the campfire, they have told stories. While some basics remain constant, the styles of storytelling change. We can see this even within our lifetime.
You may not have lived as long as I have, but you can still see television shows from the 50’s and 60’s on channels such as MeTV, Antenna TV and COZI TV. The same is true for old movies.
I’m not talking about Standards and Practices, although those have changed as well. Back in the 60’s, Jack Parr quit the Tonight Show because he got in trouble for telling a toilet joke on late night television. Kris and I have been watching episodes of 6Teen – a cartoon made in Canada and shown on Cartoon Network back in the late 2000’s. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen toilets featured when various characters have had…digestive issues.
Pacing is what I’m talking about. If you look at old dramas like “Gunsmoke” and ”Wagon Train”, the pacing was a lot slower than today’s dramas. Plots were simpler and there was little or no room for subplots. But over the decades, audiences have become smarter and producers put more into each hour or half-hour.
If you are a nerd like me, compare the original Gerry and Silvia Anderson’s, “Thunderbirds” series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLiH4xrCITI to the more recent, “Thunderbirds Are Go” out of New Zealand. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdXieRLcEuw just watch the first few minutes and see how fast they get into the story.
So what is my point? We live in a faster paced, TLDR, society. We give a show a few seconds before changing the channel. So, what happens when the TV format changes?
Up until now, shows have followed the half-hour or hour format. But that has changed with streaming services. Each episode doesn’t have to be one-hour with time for commercials. Each episode can be as long as it has to be. Services like Disney+, HBO and Paramount+ aren’t worried about eventually syndicating their shows on local stations. This has given rise to a new format, a longer format.
When “The Book OF Boba Fett” came on, many fans either loved it or hated it (and this is a whole other issue in fandom). For many, it was because Disney+ didn’t give them the Boba Fett they expected – a ruthless bounty hunter. Instead, after being thrown into the sarlacc pit, he had an epiphany. He didn’t want that life anymore. He didn’t want to die for other people’s stupidly. But for others, the pace of the first few episodes was slower than they expected from a Star Wars property. A slow burn, as many are calling it. With six episodes, they had six hours to tell a story and go further into character development before getting into the heavy action.
“Andor” is now doing the same, but the character of Cassian Andor doesn’t have the built-in expectations of Boba Fett. But again, it’s a slow burn show format. Traditionally, each episode would have a beginning, middle and end – the three-act structure. The first episode of Andor doesn’t have this. The first act ends when there is a twist in the protagonist’s normal life that sends him off in another direction – the transition from the normal world to the magical world – in “Hero’s Journey” terms. For Andor, this twist doesn’t come until the end of the third episode. Up until then, it’s character introduction, development and worldbuilding. The first season of “Andor” is twelve episodes – up to twelve hours to tell one story. Considering that, the first plot point is about where it should be. But will audiences adjust to this longer, slower format, especially in the traditionally fast-pace, action-pact universe of Star Wars?
I, for one, love character development, and I understand direction of the show. Let’s see how the rest of the TLDR world takes it.
Dennis Amador Cherry
132nd blog completed.
First Steampunk novel: 72,193 words. Need to expand to about 80,000 words.
First Steampunk screenplay: Need to update with notes from the novelization.
Second Steampunk screenplay: 162 pages. ß I’ve been working on rewriting a scene for three days. I think I got it, but it isn’t any shorter.
Second Steampunk novel: 0 words.
Third Steampunk screenplay: 38 pages.
While writing this blog, I came across this 6Teen reunion episode made in 2018. It’s an eight-minute PSA for voting. All the original cast is back – except now they’re eighteen. Never saw it before. It’s got all the elements of the original episodes, including Jonesy getting fired. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th_-odJs3ck