One Day is All We Need

The only planned miniseries I have ever watched (oh, Firefly) was Harper’s Island, a show that barely blipped on most people’s radar. We’ve discussed in class the complete lack of such things on network television, some really only occurring on premium cable channels if promoting “a once in a lifetime, spectacular event” such as Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce. I think we can all admit we check our email or get a snack during those categories at the Emmys. But after watching the first episode of One Day, I can honestly say that I wish we had more of them. More quality, compact storytelling that expands beyond a movie length but fulfills any narrative need in a shorter television lifespan.

Ensemble movies or shows can get complicated, interweaving numerous people to satisfy any plot threads left hanging. Multiple perspective stories require a certain bit of viewer detective work, picking up clues and connections between everyone, making the most sense out of the focused incident. The fun of this short serial plays with one afternoon from four perspectives, the butterfly effect connecting them. I sat and tried to make note of interlinking factors: the morning encounter, the start of the rain, the end of the kid’s party, and the brick through the window. Not necessarily just big narrative moments, but including the absence of some…the unexplained shifts or side glances. Connective narrative tissue will weave within each episode, building off of the guaranteed curiosity of what may unfold, why, and by whom.

In Ted’s story, we know the obvious connections between him, Alfie, and Rochelle, even teasing her bit at the end. We only met Carol for a few minutes, nothing about her presence explained, none of her involvement hinted at beside her quick cutaway in the beginning with the others. The short serial allows us to delve into each story fully, not cut corners or rely on assumptions, but truly experience the diegesis in the best form, the most practical form, it has to offer. A movie would need to condense, a full series would need to elongate. This compact story tells what it needs to in the time frame it desires, and I’m excited to see it play out.

Besides, in a class where we constantly want to continue with shows with a backlog, who wouldn’t mind a quickly introduced and resolved screening subject?

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2 Responses to One Day is All We Need

  1. Kelly Taylor says:

    I definitely agree that One Day accomplishes something that neither a full-length film nor an average serial episode can. The show proves highly engaging as a singular episode. As British TV often is, it is more slow-moving and investigates character on a deeper level. I found One Day to be very smart, in that although slower-paced, it kept me interested in the plot the entire time. I found myself questioning what really happened and playing out hypothetical endings in my head. I have also never seen a show that focuses on four distinct individuals over four episodes… what a unique and refreshing concept.

  2. Maija says:

    I really like how you described “One Day’s” strength as not having to condense or do away with minor – but important – bits of character backstory and development. We got a really great glimpse into Ted and his many character traits that made him a really full character. Even if I didn’t always sympathize or empathize with him, I could still understand what he was doing and why. As the inevitable end came nearer and nearer, I found myself hoping more and more it wasn’t actually going to happen that way. In a film, I wouldn’t have felt fulfilled with this very one-sided story, but because I knew that we are going to get so much more, I found myself diving into the narrative even more. I liked the little bits we got about the crime throughout because it made me feel how intricately wound these four stories are, even if I couldn’t see it yet. I think it will be fascinating to watch the last three stories not just to see how everything plays out, but as an interesting study in how what we show on television so dramatically shapes a narrative.

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