I think 2001 is more a movie for people who want an immersive sensory and perceptual experience more than they want a narrative.
That's fair. I remember being blown away (if a trifle bewildered) when I first saw it in Cinerama back in '68 or so. And I really got into it when I caught it on the big screen again during my college years. But I've never seen the point of watching it on TV. It's not that kind of movie.
2001 is indeed an experience,
like attending a concert or something. If you're in the right frame of mind, you can get caught up in the awesome cosmic sweep of the thing, But, yeah, if you're expecting a gripping narrative with sympathetic characters to root for or whatever . . . well, that's like expecting clever lyrics in a piece of classical music.
Meanwhile, while discussing those long SFX shots, it may be that that real influence was not 2001,
but Close Encounters of the Third Kind,
which had been a huge
hit just a year before. That movie's entire climax is basically one long SFX light show, not unlike the V'Ger scenes, so that may have encouraged the filmmakers or the studio or whomever to include similar "Whoa! Look at the pretty SFX" shots into TMP . . . .