25
Nov
14

2:8 Decembrist: Rant – Character vs Plot (11/14/2014)

@Belle Thank you for your thoughtful response and entirely plausible theory. I regretted posting that as soon as I did. It was late, I was tired. It’s true I stopped watching Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones, but there other reasons, too. The fact is, I will likely keep watching The Blacklist just to watch Spader’s incredible acting. I am annoyed at the long hiatus and at something Jon Bokenkamp said in an interview: essentially, that the showrunners try to constantly upend viewers’ expectations. Sure, that keeps it engaging to watch, but it seems to go against character development, Liz’s bizarre (and unbelievable) imprisonment of Tom being a great example. I’m not the only one:

“NBC, plots are one thing. You can draw people in with interesting plots. But it’s the CHARACTERS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIPS that keep people interested. It’s Writing 101. Pretty sure half of your fanbase is better at it than you. If you keep this shit up, I guarantee you, the ratings are going to drop tremendously once you make the shift to Thursday nights.” http://bit.ly/1uf1PrB

You likely have read The Rolling Stone interview about James Spader’s upending the production schedule over what the writers were doing with his character in the Anslo Garrick episodes last year http://rol.st/XJRtDS. I guess I sense a lot of tension between Spader and the creative staff. I also saw a series of tweets between Megan Boone and a reviewer with her expressing concerns about the way her character was written. I don’t know what the proper mix is. My background is literary criticism, where you’re always dealing with a finished work. The stresses of doing a TV series of this caliber must be enormous. I really want this show to be a great success. It has all the potential. I just hope they keep the characters coherent and relatable. They could have done more with both the Fitch and Berlin characters and it’s a shame they’ve made it impossible to revive them while literally resurrecting Tom from the dead and – according to one interview, signed up for next season http://rol.st/XJRtDS. I actually find Tom boring and un-sexy and stupid as an antagonist to Red. (I realize there are those on this blog who really like Tom…)

I hope the showrunners decide on whether they want the audience to be more engaged than startled. This blog has been all about engagement, trying to use the clues the show provides to guess where it’s going. The question of Zoë’s identity is a good example (timeline issues aside). An attentive, engaged viewer could pretty much figure it out from the clues provided. But, when they do things like Pepper’s key, with no context so the NBC staff have tell us it’s important, or like turning what Red took from Fitch from “some very damaging information” to an enigmatic “thing” in the course of a single episode – it reeks of too much emphasis on goofy plot twists that leave character coherence and thematic development in the lurch.

I hope the actors – who really have to put the meat on the bones of these characters – continue to make their voices heard, especially Spader. Usually, I’d say the writers should have creative control, but if they treat characters like sacks of flour to toss around, actors like Spader need to speak up. He can easily find another project at this point. I would primarily be afraid he’d leave TV entirely for film or the stage (as he has in the past). It would be a great loss for TV, but he would either get paid more (film) or not have to work as hard (stage) – both of which he deserves. Better than spending Thanksgiving on the phone arguing with Jon Bokenkamp.

Rant over – I hope ♡ ૂི•̮͡• ૂ ྀ♡…
P.S. Why doesn’t Red just kill Tom?

[Cross-posted at WSJ speakeasy]



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