I was listening to the most recent TV Talk Machine podcast episode, where they discuss Better Call Saul. For those who don’t know, Saul is a character from Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is a prequel series to Breaking Bad, with the titular character still being a nice guy, something he definitely isn’t in BB.
In general, prequels don’t seem to have the greatest track record. I merely have to mention the words “star” and “wars”. But isn’t this worse for TV? With a movie or even a book or book series, the writer knows how many installments they have and can plan the amount of story accordingly (or the other way around).
But with TV, if you’re successful, you have to keep going for an indeterminate amount of time, usually losing some characters/actors along the way. And even one short season is a long, long time to wait for the other shoe to drop. (One complaint about Better Call Saul, which I haven’t watched, is that it’s slow as molasses.)
And this is not just about prequels: the same issue comes up with shows like How I Met Your Mother. Or shows with an important will they / won’t they component: you can’t keep the boy and girl apart for a decade, but you also can’t really get them together because then the tension is lost.
And conspiracies / mysteries. See X-Files and Lost. When the payoff doesn’t come, viewers feel cheated. If it does come, the viewers often feel cheated anyway, because the payoff can never justify a hundred or more episodes of buildup. And it becomes painfully obvious that the writers were making it up as they went all along. Which they have to, as they have no idea how many hours they have to fill.
Basically, the viewers watch because they’re interested in X, but the writers can never give the viewers X because then they’re out of a job.
I guess there’s an exception for shows that wrap up by the end of the first season, but as stated in another thread, it’s unAmerican to cancel a TV show that still makes money, so that rarely happens.
Anyone have any examples of shows that were working towards a known outcome and didn’t end up disappointing a large fraction of their viewers along the way or at the end?