The problem with poor pacing, and increasingly overlong television

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Having a more flexible runtime makes sense – generally speaking, the traditional forty-five-ish minute slot for a drama or the twenty-five-ish minute slot for comedy are fairly arbitrary ideas imposed by the demands of advertisers rather than anything else. There’s nothing inherent to the stories that dictate they hold this structure, so the opportunity to be a little bit more malleable and adaptable can be worth pursuing.

Yet it’s debatable whether this approach is really effective, and whether the freedom that’s been allowed has ultimately been a good thing. There’s an argument to be made that, over the past few years, it’s led to a slew of poorly paced television series; slow and plodding, not using their runtime effectively. It’s not so much that a serial has to be filled with incident, but that there’s a sense that not every minute has to be earned in the way that perhaps it used to be – in turn leading to more meandering, more superfluous storytelling.

This article brought to you by the hour I spent watching the first episode of Seven Seconds, though could just have easily been brought to you by the interminable thirteen hours spent on Jessica Jones series 2.

A while ago, I changed up my approach with how I write about television; I decided, basically, that I was only going to write about a show when I’d seen the entire thing. Just a different way of looking at it, taking the series more holistically basically, and a way to stop myself getting too complacent – after a while, I figure I’ll probably switch it up again.

But anyway, this led to a lot of Netflix binge-watching, which was always frustrating – with the above Seven Seconds, ten episodes totalled around eleven hours entirely (there was one episode which was seventy-five minutes long, which is pretty much never necessary) and it worked out that if I watched all ten episodes, then spent another three hours or so writing an article on the show, my final pay would work out as less than minimum wage. Which I was not wholly impressed by. So I wrote this article about why TV episodes are too long instead. Though admittedly I’d probably mind less if I was paid more. So, you know.

(Some months later, a more well established TV critic, the name of whom escapes me, wrote something similar titled something to the effect of “overly long episodes are the TV equivalent of manspreading”, which is a much better title than mine. Made me laugh, anyway.)

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The Defenders is less a story, and more a drawn out contractual obligation

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It’s not so much that The Defenders is bad, exactly. Bits of it are quite good. The leads are, if nothing else, good at their job and keep the show afloat even as the script drags it down. Equally, though, it has to be said – it takes a special kind of programme to waste Sigourney Weaver. At the end of the day, there’s never really a sense that someone went into this with a story they wanted to tell, or any particular vision they wanted to realise.

Me on The Defenders, which I found quite disappointing on the whole.

Actually, “disappointing on the whole” is being far too kind – wasn’t it just staggeringly bad? Quite apart from the fact it managed to waste Sigourney Weaver (!!!) it moved at an absolutely glacial pace while still doing very little. One of the big things that stood out to me, actually, was that it couldn’t find the time for a scene between Matt and Claire, despite how important they’d been to one another in Daredevil. Just such a lack of focus on or interest in the characters (to say of nothing of moments of outright sloppiness, like poorly staged fight scenes and tonally mismatched musical cues), it was ultimately pretty substanceless.

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Costume designer Stephanie Maslansky on The Defenders, how to break into the industry, and more

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[Conveying character and theme] is the main job of a costume designer. We carefully read the script and have many meetings where we discuss ideas. Essentially you want to convey a character’s present, as well as the past and even some of the future. Color and texture is important as well as silhouette. Economic status, state of mind, state of health, country of origin, political leanings—these are some of the many notions to be conveyed through costume.

An interview I did recently with Stephanie Maslansky – she told me a few interesting things about Sigourney Weaver’s character in The Defenders, as well as some great tips on how to become a costume designer!

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The Defenders catch-up: What happened in Luke Cage?

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We’re not far from the debut of Netflix’s superhero team up extravaganza, The Defenders. It’s set to unite Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, bringing each one together from their own shows to fight a new evil that threatens New York.

There’s just one problem though – what if you can’t remember what happened in the other shows? It’s been a while, after all, and you probably don’t have the time to binge watch them all ahead of The Defenders. No need to worry – here’s your explanation of everything that happened in Luke Cage

Here’s a summary of what happened in Luke Cage, how it ended, and any unresolved plot threads that might show up in The Defenders

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SDCC 2016 News Roundup: Marvel Television

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San Diego Comic-Con has been underway for a few days now, and we’ve already got plenty of exciting news from the Marvel Television department. A particular focus was on the Netflix television projects, which have enjoyed a lot of success already, with several new trailers having been released.

So, trailers have been released for Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders; that’s obviously all very exciting, so I’ve written a little bit of a news roundup/reaction post for Yahoo TV.

In related news, I finially got around to finishing the second season of Daredevil today. That’s kinda been my process for each of these Netflix shows, albeit somewhat inadvertantly; I watch the first 7 episodes or so, and then don’t get around to the back half until several months later. It’s a bit of a nuisance, really, because it means I tend to pick up on spoilers and whatnot  – but that’s all my own fault, really. I think in future I’ll try and watch the opening episodes more slowly in future, so I don’t burn out quite so quickly.

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