I’m not much of a television person. And it’s not because the tv shows are puerile, offensive, or boring—though sometimes they are. I get frustrated even with tv shows that aren’t. My biggest beef with tv shows is the characters. The characters almost never grow. That’s what I love about books and movies. By the end, a resolution has occurred and a character grows. But tv series by their continuing nature can’t do that.
For example, I enjoy the show Castle (it’s about a mystery writer who falls in love with a NYC detective). The show is mostly about solving the murders. But the background is Rick Castle’s love for Kate Beckett and hers for him. Except that they never get beyond their own foibles that keep them apart. Despite the fact that Rick realizes that Kate is his soul mate, he can’t get beyond his philandering ways, which turns off Kate who wants a real lifetime relationship. Now, of course, this may be real life, but in a story I want to see the characters redeemed or, at least, resolved to be separate. But in the constant back-and-forth of their relationship I feel like I’m being “led down the garden path.” I’m not sure there’s any way around it; after all, when the tension between Kate and Rick is gone, where does it leave the story? Though I have some ideas on how to advance the characters and still maintain the tension (call me ABC), but that’s another story.
Maintaining the tension and advancing the characters’ growth is the double edged sword for tv shows. Some shows try to get around it by having their characters do exciting/growing things, but then those choices never change the relationships around them. Their actions have no consequences, either good or bad. And I hate that even more.
There have been notable exceptions like the show Kidnapped in which a child is kidnapped in the first episode and the rest of the season is devoted to finding the child and discovering why he was kidnapped. Of course, the characters who search for the child don’t do much growing, but then the writers had expected the show to continue beyond one season, which didn’t happen (BTW, Netflix carries the show.)
I think part of the reason for the success of detective series beyond the “idea of justice” and “the modern realization of the quest genre,” is that most episodes have closure with a denouement and resolution.
Or am I overthinking it? Or maybe I just haven’t seen any good shows. Any thoughts or shows that you’d like to share, readers?