Thursday, April 27, 2006

Are Lost, Alias, Invasion Too Intellectually Demanding?

As a follow-up to my previous post, I came across a newspaper article yesterday by a television critic (Robert Bianco) attempting to explain why Alias and Invasion have struggled to hold onto the audience of Lost, which preceeds them on Wednesday night. Although there are no doubt other factors involved as well, his suggestion is that these three hours of televsion demand too much attention from the audience. All three series require active intellectual engagement in order to follow the complex interweaving of plots and subplots, the extensive character development, and the employment of metaphor. No show currently combines all three of these better than Lost, prompting Bianco to claim this is "why Lost may be the best show on TV at the moment."

Whether right or wrong, it is an argument that illustrates the rapidly improving state of serialized television today. Back in the days of Three's Company and The Brady Bunch, it would be hard to imagine anyone arguing that fictional television shows demanded too much mental work from viewers.


At 2:54 PM, Blogger Jim MacKenzie said...

I don't know, I worked pretty hard trying to understand the intricate subplots, incredibly heady dialogue, and rich use of metaphor when I watched The Brady's, Gilligan's Island, & Get Smart (come on, Greg, just the title leads you to think that this is going to be hard to grasp!)

At 4:03 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I'd be willing to concede "Get Smart." Any show that involves a cone of silence demands respect.

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Jim said...

The only one I can comment on is Alias. My wife and I have been intense fans since the first season, and at one point it was probably our favorite show.

But I'm not sure intellectually demanding is a proper synonym for overly complicated or needlessly entangling. Maybe this shows my intellectual shortcomings, but shows like this with such a "complex interweaving of plots and subplots" go a step beyond intellectually demanding.

But that being said, we were still long-standing fans through last season; but this past season, when the writing, dialogue, and plot started to get insipid, we dropped that when Abrams left the program?

Anyway, my only point is that "too many sub-plots" doesn't necessarily mean a show is intellectally demanding...

At 9:30 AM, Blogger Greg said...

I understand what you are saying. I have thought much the same about Alias, although I've stayed with it throughout as I tend to be stupidly loyal that way. By "intellectually demanding" here, though, I think I mean less "intellectually stimulating" which is sort of what you are saying and more that it demands a lot of attention and effort to follow along. I believe you are right that things started to go off course when Abrams left to work on Lost and Mission Impossible 3.

At 5:41 PM, Blogger KMiV said...

Thats why we are Survivor, Amazing Race, and American Idol fans. Reality TV all the way makes us work!



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