Episodic vs. serialized

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by 11Alive, Sep 14, 2020.

?

What format of show do you prefer?

  1. Episodic

    13 vote(s)
    41.9%
  2. Serialized

    9 vote(s)
    29.0%
  3. No preference

    9 vote(s)
    29.0%
  1. 11Alive

    11Alive Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    That doesn't make sense. If you're rewatching a show, you already know how everything goes. There would be no more "tension" or "payoff" in a multi-episode arc than if everything was wrapped up in one episode. It's like saying "Amok Time" isn't rewatchable because T'Pau was never mentioned again and we never found out if she was offended after finding out that Kirk was alive, she was deceived and sacred Vulcan rituals were dishonored.
     
  2. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    I didn't say it was logical. Even if you know how it turns up you get swept up in the story.

    Strictly episodic is great if you have so little time to watch shows that you just don't have the chance to get invested in anything. When you want something to periodically binge, just watching standalone adventures of the bad guy of the week doesn't have the same motivation.

    It's also an issue of how you view the characters and the world building. With serial TV, the world comes alive a lot more and the characters emotions feel more real. With episodic TV they feel like story widgets with a set of quirks and skills to kill the bad guy of the week. And the world doesn't have as much cohesiveness, it doesn't seem larger than the characters' home base and the location of the episode.
     
  3. Gov Kodos

    Gov Kodos Admiral Admiral

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    I don't mind serialized if the show delivers a beginning, middle, and end. Black Sails worked brilliantly doing just that. However, shows like Sons of Anarchy or Vikings and quite a few others just drag along long past where a show should have put an end to things but the ratings and money kept the beast alive. Episodic is fine but there is a tendency to repetitive stories after a while and the characters never really evolve and remain static plot devices so they are available for the next episode. So, like serialized series they too have a limited shelf life. Both means of story telling are fine, just different virtues and failings.
     
  4. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I like a mix of both. A show with overarching plot elements, but the flexibility to have episodes that are their own thing. I don't like the "10-13 hour movie" style serialization, which I'm most familiar with from the Netflix Marvel shows, very much. There have been good shows in that style (like Season 1 of Daredevil), but even in heavily serialized shows I like having the individual episodes stand out a bit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2020
  5. cardinal biggles

    cardinal biggles Patron Saint of Dangerous Driving Premium Member

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    As I've moved away from watching shows live on TV and more towards binge-watching them via DVD or streaming platforms, I find I prefer the serialized format better.
     
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  6. amp

    amp Commander Red Shirt

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    What I don't like is the reset button. Over the course of a 44 minute episode a major character is badly hurt, or they meet and lose the love of their life, or some other emotionally traumatic event happens to them. Yet when we see them again in the following episode there are no repercussions and the event is never mentioned again during the series run.
     
  7. The Borgified Corpse

    The Borgified Corpse Admiral Admiral

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    Agreed. And when you have a show like Doctor Who where most of the episodes are stand-alones but sometimes have some ongoing arcs, it tends to be the arc-heavy episodes that have the least rewatchability. Often this is because, once you get past the BIG REVELATIONS of the episode, there isn't much else to hang the episode on (i.e. "A Good Man Goes to War" or "The Name of the Doctor").

    Agreed. My preferred style is where each episode is its own case/monster/alien/planet-of-the-week but still has ongoing character arcs that are frequently touched upon and constantly developing. If an episodic series wants to indulge in the occasional 2 or 3 parter, I think that's fine. But I should get some kind of reward for sticking through to the end of the episode, even if there are remaining threads left to be resolved. Even if it ends on a cliffhanger, it should be a cliffhanger that makes some dramatic pivot to the direction in which the story goes. But if the overall arc is all that you're offering me, I'm usually not interested. It makes you look sloppy for not being able to condense it into a single feature film. The reason why I could never get into Heroes was because it felt like every episode just stopped because they ran out of time. There was no major climax at the end of the individual episode, no dramatic payoff.

    I had some friends who made their own web series and I always told them that the reason why it wasn't more popular was because it didn't serve any purpose other than to develop its own mythology but didn't provide a reason to care about that mythology in the first place. In the end, even once the 1st season ended, it still ended on a cliffhanger that didn't resolve anything and they didn't continue it. That was 10 years ago. (They like to play coy about how they know how it was supposed to end but won't reveal the secret. My secret is that no one cares!)
     
  8. jackoverfull

    jackoverfull Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Episodic with story arcs!

    A good series, for me, should be going somewhere in the long run but each episode should totally be enjoyable on its own, with a clear beginning and ending.

    This is something that was totally mastered on Babylon V and, to a lesser extent, DS9 and I find totally missing in Discovery and especially Picard, where everything seems a perpetual middle and episodes end with no resolution.
     
  9. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yeah, that's my preference too, the combination of the two. Where each episode has it's own beginning, middle, and end, but they still build off of each.
    I do enjoy a lot of shows that are in fully serialized, and fully standalone, but if given the choice that's my preference.
    One that I don't care for, is stuff like Bones, CSI, and NCIS, where they thread serialized episodes through a whole bunch of unrelated standalones. Some of these will be spread out over multiple seasons, with only a handful of episodes each seasons. It drives me crazy when they do that, because they tend to have such a big gap between the serialized episodes that I have trouble remembering what was going on when we actually get them.
     
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  10. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think I do have to go with episodic, that is likely to be hit and miss (but with a really good cast the misses are rarer and not as low), but that's better, safer as too many shows can and have been ruined by a bad storyline going on too long, which is also a lot more likely to significantly damage the characters.
     
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  11. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Premium Member

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    It depends on the genre.

    Comedy half hour shows are fine with the episodic system, if they're long running it's ok to have something lasting happening every 10-15 episodes so you don't get confused usually if you skip a few episodes

    For everything drama related i nowadays prefer serialized and even the now common binge formart of between 10-12 episodes as it cuts out filler episodes and concentrates the episodes while still giving enough room for character and story development ( if well written).
     
  12. jackoverfull

    jackoverfull Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The problem with cutting “filler” episodes is that they tend to take their time and actually develop more the characters.

    I think we would have cared much more about Airiam if we had a couple of episodes showing a bit her hobbies, for example...That could (and should!) have done in the current format as well, but it would have been easier if every episode wasn’t as packed with storyline material only.

    Think about how we got to care about o’brian and Barclay on TNG, two characters that weren’t even in the main cast.
     
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  13. gblews

    gblews Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Depends on the show and serialization format. If you’re watching Breaking Bad, a show that was a 5 season multi episode movie broken up into one hour segments, and you lose interest in Walter White’s story, then yeah, you might as well bail.

    But if you’re watching a serialized show like X-Files, and you lose interest in the myth arc, there will be a number of great stand alone episodes in between the myth arc stories. Same for a show like Buffy. Each season was serialized but with enough stand alone shows to keep your interested if you aren’t down with The Master or Glory.

    If you lose interest in Captan Kirk or the whereabouts of Spock’s brain, there’s not much chance you’ll stick with TOS either, even though it’s format is stand alone.
    I don’t think two parters are a good example of serialization. There are even two parters in the midst of serialized seasons. With a two parter, you generally know there will be an interim ending in the next one or two episodes which is incentive to give the show another hour.

    Also, no matter how serialized a show is, each episode usually has a beginning, middle, and definite end. Every hour should stand on it’s own. Sometimes, because we know the show is serialized and the end of the overall arc won’t come until the end of the season or later, we don’t recognize the ending of each episode.
     
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  14. galleywest

    galleywest I'll get you, and your little dog too! Premium Member

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    It's so funny this is a topic right now, my husband and I were just talking about this last night! We have been rewatching TNG and really enjoying it. Yesterday I said that one of the things I really like about it is that it is episodic rather than serialized. I was lamenting that there aren't many showed like TNG anymore, and I miss the more episodic series. I'll take episodic any day. These days I don't have the time or the brainpower to dedicate to a serialized show, and my husband tends to fall asleep while watching anything so a show with a longer plotline is not ideal.

    Lately I've been employing the following method of watching serialized shows that I am interested in but which are too involved for me to dedicate the time to. If you're sensitive to blasphemous viewing methods, look away now. I read the descriptions and watch the last episode in the series. Sometimes I'll watch the first episode as well, but not always. This was how I watched both seasons of The Umbrella Academy, Warrior Nun, and Jessica Jones. It's just faster. Not sorry.
     
  15. JulieYBM

    JulieYBM Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    The sort of 'detached' episodic nature of your Star Trek: The Original Series' or your The Next Generations might have a use but I definitely feel like strongly planned serials are the way to go. That isn't to say you shouldn't break up your main arcs with small scenes, just that a strong undercurrent that gets developed is what gives a series really strong, powerful legs. For a series like Hibike! Euphonium it's the relationship between Kumiko and Reina or the band class' goal towards winning Gold in the upcoming competition and how that affects their growth as characters. There's still funny, incidental scenes so the series never quite feels like a series tone, either.

    Perhaps a better example is Violet Evergarden. Each episode Violet travels to a new place in the post-war world and writes a letter (or letters) for a client and we see her personal growth from being emotionally distant into a loving and caring girl as she gets to know her clients, her co-workers and herself. It's 'episodic' without abandoning a running sense of development. There's a need to reach a cathartis for the viewer after a season ends or comes to a close. Now, for your Kirk or your Picard you don't really see something like that--certainly not a planned development but rather a development constructed on the spot.

    It definitely reminds me of how much I hate the "order episodes first, come up with a plot that allows you to continually order new episodes" style of filmmaking in Hollywood. Not every story needs to be more than 13-26 hours!
     
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  16. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    Serialization tends to fall apart in the cases they either don’t plan where they’re going or don’t at least make the seasons standalone. NuBSG is a big perpetrator of this. They left themselves with nowhere to go in seasons 3 and 4 without crazy retcons like making random characters cylons with no foreshadowing. Also if you get canceled your show is forever unsatisfying.

    But for me I have trouble motivating myself to watch a non-comedy show if it’s strictly episodic. There doesn’t have to be much serialization, even the amount they gave in House is enough. But if I know nothing that happens will affect the world at large it doesn’t capture my imagination. The consequences are what give the show tension in the first place.
     
  17. jackoverfull

    jackoverfull Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    ah, yes, this is an obvious issue on discovery (and the new Star Wars trilogy, by the way).
     
  18. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    A lot of folks seem to think a drama has a harder time being episodic, but it did work for a long time. In those cases, the premise is key. You want to have a premise that leans naturally towards status quo, like The Fugitive, a character who's reality is dependent on returning to a status quo, by design

    Leverage wasn't a bad episodic show, & I didn't mind Person of Interest in it's early days when it hadn't delved into its full on arc. Admittedly, it did get even more interesting when they started serializing though, but if they hadn't... I could've kept watching
     
  19. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Fleet Admiral Premium Member

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    I said episodic but I like a combination of both. Some of my favorite shows (B5, Farscape, and DS9) managed to combine both and I just like while there are ongoing storylines, episodic TV allows characters to grow and develop better.
     
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  20. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    Back when strict episodic was the norm I found dramas like The Fugitive or Nowhere Man frustrating for that reason. Shows designed around attempting to end the premise of the show. No matter what was going on, happenstance would conspire to make everything fall through at the end. Every episode of the series was like the Voyager episodes where they had a shortcut home.

    It works a little better for procedurals. Solve the mystery, naturally move on.