I was watching Amazon’s action TV show when I realized something. The newly streaming eight-episode series is about a tough guy rolling into a small town and opening a can of whup-ass on the local bad guys. This, I thought, is The A-Team. To be precise, it’s a single episode of The A-Team.
Season 1 of Reacher covers only one novel from the series of books on which it’s based, and season 2 — just confirmed by Amazon — will presumably do the same. But in the 1980s, TV heroes walked into a whole new adventure every week.
In other words, what takes Jack Reacher an entire season of hour-long episodes, the A-Team used to do in an hour (minus ad breaks).
That same day, my wife and I watched the first episode of Inventing Anna, a Netflix series dramatizing the true story of infamous scammer Anna Sorokin. It looked arch and irreverent, so we decided to keep watching. But first — and I know you do this too — we checked how long it was.
Nine episodes? Sorry, but that’s way too much.
No shade to either of these shows, but it feels like too many current TV shows are spun out of not enough story. Seriously, not every story needs eight or nine or 10 episodes.
Television creators repeatedly tell us the beauty of our prestige TV era is the open-endedness. A television series gives space and time to explore the depth and breadth of a story, developing character arcs over years and unfolding events without the time constraints of a movie….