Everyone's sick of stories that never end

Originally published at: Everyone's sick of stories that never end | Boing Boing




(emphasis mine)

People have a very rose-colored memory of film and television’s history. It has literally always been like this (except maybe the foundational years). There is soooo much more released in a year than people realize and most of it is crap. Nobody has ever seen all of it, which means everyone is missing something, likely a lot. Most of the stories in any format are rehashes and film has always thrived on serials and repackaging the same stories in different ways (Ancient Greece, a high school). Point to any era and these things are true.

However, I am very happy when a story ends within 3-5 seasons. I see a lot of shows declaring in advance when it will wrap up. Of course, some of them get cancelled early and we don’t get to see the story end. I’m fine with that, honestly. I would watch another season of GLOW, though.


I am definitely enjoying the limited series / mini-series as a form of storytelling. More time to be able to tell a detailed story than a 90~150 minute movie. No need to leave things unfinished in the hope of being renewed for another season. No risk of filler episodes to fill out a 12/15/20/24 episode season.

Some of my recent favorites are Good Omens on Prime, and Sprung on Freevee. (Oh, and WandaVision on Disney. Of course it felt like they crapped all over it with the Multiverse of Madness, sigh.)


We talk about modern Hollywood’s obsession with sequels and “reboots,” but I think the real difference between old and new Hollywood is the willingness to let specific narratives end - old Hollywood was happy to let things end, to be self-contained… so they could immediately remake them. (And, in the old days of studio productions, use the same groups of writers, directors and actors to produce new movies that tried to strike the same chords.) A sequel or two was the limit to narrative continuity.

Even long-running series (e.g. Abbott and Costello films) didn’t attempt to be in continuity with each other, they were just similar things using a particular formula. The idea of connected series of movies (and tv shows, etc.) that exist in continuity with each other is new.

Even on day one - lots of versions of things based on the same source material. Once film got established, films could do remakes (so many remakes) of older films - sometimes just a few years older, even.

The new bit is that home video (and especially streaming) has created this phenomenon where the audience can be expected to be familiar with any given previous film, so franchises can be premised on that. Outside of the serials, everything previously either assumed you hadn’t seen the previous movie, or didn’t care that you had (or hadn’t).

Yeah, I have increasing appreciation for non-US dramatic tv show models (e.g. Korean), where a show is planned from the start to have 20 episodes and that’s it, rather than a show that extends itself to multiple seasons only to be canceled and left hanging.


Who can forget that time an eyepatch-wearing Samuel L. Jackson walked on stage after the first performance of The Iliad to tease Odysseus’ next big adventure?


Never Ending GIF



Yep - definitely fed up of new novels that don’t even attempt to tell a self-contained story, but set up trilogies or even longer series of books.


This actually doesn’t bother me in the least, and I actually prefer open endings. What’s wrong with not knowing? Just fill it in your head, you can probably make a better ending. I argue that shows that know they’re ending devolve into mawkish fan service, abandoning whatever special spark that made the show great to begin with. I want to see the same great writing that made the show worth watching, not tearful goodbyes or weddings that are the same as every other tearful goodbye or wedding.

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Is that you, J.J.?


the weird thing is the first “universe” of stories was probably star wars, and it was a closed story of three movies.

it’s seemingly easy to spin a rich world from a great self contained story, but hard to write a good self contained story in a big world ( only rogue one springs to mind )

book publishing might be somewhat to blame here too. all genre fiction must be a series in order to get published, and it’s been that way for at least a decade. so super annoying. give me one good book, and i’ll happily read everything by the author anyway


I was literally sitting down to watch 1899, and read it was canceled by Netflix.

Fuck this. Netflix and the rest are the “Now This Is What I Call Television” of today. Churn it out as fast as possible, abandon at first chance.

The Walking Dead gets 90 seasons of fill, yet Mindhunter gets the bat.


I hadn’t really thought about how books fit into this - books have a much longer history of connected sequels (whereas film had to wait for home video for it to be feasible), but it’s only quite recent that books need to be parts of series to get published. I supposed it’s all result of the oversaturated media environment - every little thing that helps there be an audience for a piece of media suddenly becomes mandatory. Being able to build on existing marketing is vital.

Yeah, streaming very much works against continuous narratives - both the dynamics of audiences and revenue (they don’t make their money by keeping people coming back to watch specific shows), having all episodes drop at once (so audiences forget the show by the time it does return), having to pay more for shows once they reach a certain number of seasons, etc.


This implies that there is some level of sucking that will lead audiences fo boycott corporate media wholesale. But there isn’t.

As with everything else in neoliberal capitalism, you have total sovereign freedom to choose who you work for and buy from, which is completely fair, since corporations are beholden to their customers collectively. And since individuals have so much power, in the interests of fairness they must be prevented from acting collectively.

Corporations don’t care at all about consumer choice. They only care about continuing to do whatever they have been doing, and preserving their income from that. If Youtube starts eating Hollywood’s lunch, the studios might try to destroy Youtube, but it will never, ever cross their mind to stop making TV shows you hate; they make shows for them, not you.

The only time big businesses will give you what you want is when the industry is new enough that they haven’t finished industrializing the desecration process. That time is coming to an end for movies and TV. You still see it with games, where app stores are 99% chaotic garbage but occasionally there’ll be a Fez or The Touryst or Engare because the industry hasn’t finished building the fences to prevent that. And that keeps the high end of the market slightly honest; Breath of the Wild isn’t only competing with AAA titles on budget, it also has to stand up next to Minecraft.



Huh? Never seen the old planet of the apes movies? The time tunnel? Sinbad? Medfield college? Hammer’s monster movies? There were tons of “universes” before Star Wars.



I would argue that The Time Tunnel deposits you in a recursive loop once you reach the “final” episode.