This Week’s Comprehensive Review! From My Perspective…

Since everyone else has posted a little something about each of the shows we watched this week, I wanted to provide some of my own thoughts, both in agreement and differing from those comments already made.

First, the episode of One Day that we watched was just too slow for me. I’m hoping that the proceeding episodes that we are going to watch on Monday change my opinion of this and help me to appreciate the overall structure better, but personally I thought it often moved too slowly. The little boy with the gun at the beginning seems to appear sporadically, seemingly making the audience think he somehow is involved with the killing of Ted, but ultimately he doesn’t (at least on the surface) seem to have anything to do with the actual shooting. Perhaps I’m not grasping the full concept of the show just yet, but I thought the simplicity and “mundane-ness” almost took away from the potential for a really engaging plot structure. I’m very curious to see our screenings on Monday, since I hope I’m proven wrong and have my opinion changed. I see where the structure of the show can be very mentally engaging (potentially), but right now I was just feeling bored and disengaged when seemingly ordinary activities kept going on in the house – and then Ted would really over-react sometimes. Overall, I didn’t feel engaged, but I’m hoping that changes on Monday, I’m still open to the show’s premise.

Shameless was an enjoyable program to watch, but I didn’t find anything in particular that made me think, this is ‘high-quality television.’ The characters are relatable and I felt intrigued by the happenings of the plot, but not once did I think        it matched up to a Sherlock or Downton Abbey. Perhaps it’s just because each of those aforementioned shows have a “film-like” feel to them, but nominating Shameless for a BAFTA award in drama seems surprising to me. Again, like One Day, I’m judging the entire series off of one episode, which isn’t fair. Nevertheless, when we watched one episode each of Sherlock and Downton Abbey, I left thinking, ‘This is some high quality television!’ I didn’t have that same feeling after watching Shameless and I’m struggling to figure out why. I’m thinking that maybe because the program was so relatable, that I felt too familiar with it so it wasn’t as “unique” as the other shows. Additionally, the narrative was pretty simple, as opposed to Sherlock’s, but I’m judging too harshly since they’re completely different shows. With all of that said, I didn’t hate it, and I would watch it again – could turn out like The Mighty Boosh where I like it more with each additional viewing. (Interesting that I feel like a lot of British TV we’ve watched has been like this, where I enjoy it more when I watch more of it).

I really want to see the movie of This Is England because I think the premise of moving a show from film to television is very interesting. Then to have the series narrative spaced out over years like it is makes the idea even more engaging and interesting to watch. Brenna brought up a lot of terrific points about the show, but I think the time element of the show’s narrative is by far its most fascinating dimension. I actually enjoyed the episode the least of the three that we watched this week, however, I found the idea most fascinating. If the movie is as good as Brenna (and Maija) says it is, then perhaps I would have enjoyed the episode more. We’re jumping right in media res, so I may have just been feeling lost with this particular episode. However, the show’s structure is really interesting from a narrative time perspective. I’m struggling to think of any American shows that also follow a similar structure. It’s almost most comparable to some movies in the US (which would make sense, given that it started as a movie). For instance, Star Wars jumps around over multiple years, as do many other movie series, contemporary and classic. Still, I wonder if the idea would even work in the US, since Americans seem comfortable with the consistent flow of most American programs.

About Christine

Christine Becker is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame.
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3 Responses to This Week’s Comprehensive Review! From My Perspective…

  1. Lauren says:

    It’s interesting that you point out that you really got the sense of “quality” from one episode of Sherlock, but didn’t from One Day, and I think you are possibly attributing that to the format of the show. I see what you’re saying. It was sort of a slow episode, and you DID get that sense that they’re only showing you part of the picture. I, at least, wanted more details, more understanding, and yeah, maybe some more action. I do feel like once I’ve seen all four episodes, I might get a better feel of quality, although I don’t think that has anything to do with the four-episode serial formal. I definitely felt like The Promise had a sense of quality in its first episode.

  2. Mary H says:

    One possible explanation for the lack of quality seen in Shameless could be its 2004 production date. I think these days we associate cinematic elements very strongly with quality (Sherlock and Downton are just so pretty to look at), and perhaps the older technology and less emphasis on production value in Shameless takes some of its sheen away. The grunge factor of the family and their lifestyle also contributes to this seeming lack of quality, as it might also with Him & Her. I do agree with you about One Day. I was excited about the concept of the program, but the first episode was a bit slow, and I didn’t find the characters overly compelling. It will be interesting to see how the other characters interact and view each other, but I also hope things pick up a little. I figure watching this show in its entirety and then re-watching it with full knowledge of each character’s individual plot line would give viewers an enjoyable payoff. As for This Is England, I also think watching the film beforehand would’ve enhanced the experience. So much context was lost, and the episode thus seemed slow, as little interactions and events were not as significant as they could have been. That being said, my interest was sparked, and I’ll likely track down the film.

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