"Westworld" [HBO]

Discussion in 'TV Show Talk' started by Delroy E Walleye, Oct 3, 2016.

  1. inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

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    I have a hard time believing that people who try shows on HBO won't be fine watching a full 2 hour premiere and require a one hour premiere to keep from possibly tuning out. Very odd...
     
  2. Huuge Hefner

    Huuge Hefner New Member

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    I have no problem believing it. And apparently neither does Casey Bloys or anyone else at HBO.

    I'm an outlier, but I know I would have been more on the fence at sampling WW if it had been a 2:15 pilot. I don't watch movies at all, probably because of the time commitment. I get antsy after sitting there for 40-50 minutes and want to get up and write another song or work on my books. I feel guilty because I'm sitting there like a lump and not on the stepper, so I use hand weights while I watch, which does really nothing for me except make me feel less guilty about being a couch potato.

    And while if I were a producer or writer on WW I would be miffed that HBO says 'do a 2-hour pilot' and then moves the goalpost and 'reimagines' that into two eps, shuffling the scenes around, I understand the value of doing that. But it is not so much a head-scratcher why the breech birth of this show meant the mother was in labor for over two years, after the pilot was shot. That's how crazy the business is when a hundred mil is invested, I guess.
     
  3. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I can go either way. I like long season/series premieres and season/series finales as well... but short ones are okay too. Quality over quantity!

    BUT... I hate when goalposts are moved. I don't like when networks shuffle around episodes and show them out of their intended order... or disassembling an episode and splitting it up and rearranging the narrative. I think this sort of thing should be negotiated up front and then left alone once the "go" order is given and they are filming things.

    We've seen more than one series mucked up by having episodes shown out of order or tinkered with by "suits" after the fact.
     
  4. Huuge Hefner

    Huuge Hefner New Member

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    Cough! Firefly Ahem!

    I think in this case the goal posts were moved before we as viewers ever got the rules of the game, and hopefully that was in the interests of making it better for us rather than making it better for HBO. After all, it would be hard for HBO to bring us the brilliance of season two and three if they don't hook us with the pilot in season one.

    That is probably always the honorable intent; it just often works out badly.

    What it really boils down to is how smart and clever the meddling manipulators are. Are they going to make it better? Or just eff everything up. And certainly in the case of WW, part of what makes me doubtful is how troubled the birth of this series was. historically speaking, the more troubled the birth has been for a show, the more likely it will not be good and will get cancelled early. It should have been negotiated up front. It wasn't. That is the world of media as it exists.

    The worry I have here is that now that I am 'recently engaged' to something I want to turn out great, will it?

    A published novelist friend of mine says you have to have a premise/setup (Act I), an adventure (Act II), and a payoff (Act III). And they all have to be good, and the payoff has to be better than the reader ever expected. Name one great book or great movie that didn't do that. And typically, the writer/creator, has the payoff all mapped out before he/she even begins. What good is a mystery novel with a weak mystery payoff?

    The problem with serialized TV is we may never get a payoff. You can sell a premise and get green-lighted without that. That is a huge problem, and a common one. The Sopranos is arguably the best show ever, yet many were unhappy with the payoff, feeling there was not really one at all.

    But luckily, the payoff isn't everything. The journey is sometime worth it, even if the payoff isn't great. Lost comes to mind. I honestly think those guys had no idea where they were going after ep 2 when the show was sold. But they got there, wherever they were going, in style. Every ep was an adventure, and was entertaining, even if you missed the week before and had no idea where the story might be going. Folks not exactly happy with that 'payoff', either, but it was still a top-shelf show.

    So that is how I am looking at WW. Enjoy the journey, because i suspect the payoff is not even really well-formed in the writers' minds quite yet. And of course this problem is aggravated by the fact that TV series are open-ended. No one really knows if there will be a full season, a season two, a season five, a season fourteen. So much so, that it quite obscenely has almost become the paradigm. 'Sell us on a good premise, and worry about the payoff when you get there'. That is a huge problem, and a characteristic flaw in series television.
     
  5. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    That's why I argue, generally speaking for a process by which networks buy a show for a season or half-season or whatever... with the up-front commitment that they will not cancel the show mid-season. Buy 20 episodes, you will run them all. IF ratings suffer or you don't like the show once you see it, then you simply don't renew after season 1. Meanwhile, the showrunners only know for sure they have season 1... so they should craft a story that is compelling and reasonably complete by the end of season 1. It's fine to sow seeds and leave the door open to season 2 in case ratings go well and the network wants to renew... but don't assume you will get a season 2 and leave viewers hanging.

    There is a way for both sides to make compelling program that is both open-ended AND doesn't leave viewers hanging. I can handle a network canceling a show I don't like, but I can't handle when they decide to not run the episodes after a while OR they post them online only OR they binge drop them randomly some night when I can't watch or record them all because of conflicts. Buy the show, run the show!

    Also, I wish the network would stay out of monkeying with the show. They had the chance to provide input before they bought the show. Presumably you buy the pitch from the showrunners and fund a pilot... then you like the pilot enough to go to series with it... at that point, you've decided that you like what they brought to the table... so let them keep serving you what you bought. Stop asking the chef to change the recipe! IF you didn't like it, you should have went to another restaurant before committing to multiple dinners there.

    I need to watch Westworld though, so I can stop speaking in general terms. I have it on the DVR but haven't found the time to sit and watch yet.
     
  6. Huuge Hefner

    Huuge Hefner New Member

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    There are two sinister forces opposing your pipe dream.

    1. Monetization. Or less politely, greed. They want to squeeze every penny from you, and quality, or what you really want, always takes a back seat. And they are just as interested in you taking out your wallet willingly as they are in lifting it when you aren't looking.

    2. Meddling. That is not a mental disorder found in the DSM-5, but it should be. People feel that they have to justify their own existence by meddling with everything they can get their boney little fingers into. TV is no exception. Neither is tech, and neither are recipes or offerings at a restaurant.

    The problem is the non-destructive nature of things like tech and TV and recipes. If something gets literally written in stone, if someone designs a building and completes it, or an end table, or records a song, that's it. It is no longer non-destructive to make changes. At some point you gotta paint it and ship it.

    But the ability to update tech remotely over the internet essentially let loose the meddlers. Not the best example, just the most dramatic. In TV, everything is non-destructive until you air it, meaning if there are meddlers, and there are always going to be, just like there are ZIka mosquitos, plenty of meddlers, and things will suffer meddling until they air or are posted on Netflix. Once something has a virus it always has a virus, which is why TV is like herpes.

    Also, it is not practical to wait until the upfronts to know whether you should start thinking about writing season two.

    Still, that's a great pipe dream. The most important thing that happened to series TV in the last decade is not streaming, it is the HBO effect. They started the model of the 10-ep season, no meddling suits (ironically now meddling BIGTIME with WW), and open-ended running times. And that has fostered closed arcs, short seasons, not panicking and pulling an expensive great show like Lone Star after one episode (four others never aired), and not expecting to drain writers and actors creatively by forcing 22 eps in 39 weeks, over and over and over again.

    Creativity is not something that you can just turn on the faucet for, and the clinkers in 22-ep seasons illustrate that markedly. A few years ago TV went through a fallow period because of all of this, with your JJ Abrams's and Vince Gilligan's and countless actors wishing to go to movies instead. But because things have changed, the quality center has moved back to TV.

    No longer is there such a great pressure to ramp up the energy just before a commercial break, or as the president of Netflix might say, "What the heck is that?" No longer does a show have to fit squarely into a 42-minute box, which means we were either deprived of great scenes or were forced to endure filler, because the only reason content is even there in the first place is to separate the commercial breaks from one another.

    (Well, maybe some of this is still a pipe dream, things are changing in linear TV, but slowly, glacially). I've been watching linear TV for decades, to the point where when the commercial comes, I already know and have my finger on the skip button before 'Flo from Progressive' even gets one stupid word out. (I do stick around for 'Lilly' in those phone service commercials. If they want me to watch the commercials, just put 'Lilly' in every single one of them)

    David Duchovny would eat his gun before doing another 22-ep season. He even bailed out of doing that on top. But 6 eps? Sure! Let's do it! Let's play two!
     
  7. armophob

    armophob Difficulty Concen........

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    I am all in on this one.
    Dissect as you will. But It is great tv.
     
  8. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I'm not sure why it has to be a pipe dream. Networks want to make money, production companies want to make money... every step along the way involves people wanting to make money. IF networks aren't confident in a show for a full season (whether it is 6, 10, 13, or 22 episodes) then they shouldn't go beyond that pilot. They pay for the pilot, they like it or not... that's the end unless they are ready to pay for a whole season order and air that whole season.

    Meanwhile, I don't expect the writers to do nothing... Actors have contracts either year-to-year, or for multiple seasons already... IF the production company likes their show, they can pay writers to work on season 2 scripts until they feel the show isn't going to get one. So writers should be crafting season 1 that is ordered and (in my scenario) guaranteed such that it completes a story arc AND leaves the door open for more stories that they are already planning. IF you can get a network to buy multiple seasons in one shot (I doubt it, but you never know) THEN you can go all out and plan cliffhangers and stuff between seasons... but you can't do that IF you don't feel certain you're going to complete the story.

    Imagine if books came out like this... Stephen King tried it... "The Green Mile" came out in 6 chapters... but he was Stephen "F" King so he and you knew it was going to get finished and would sell. But someone else? Are you going to buy chapter one of a book when you don't know if any other chapters will come out? I wouldn't. That's what is happening to viewers in serialized TV... too many times being burned, so many ignore shows until either they hear it has been renewed OR they find out it isn't going to end on a cliffhanger.

    Networks would get more people to try new shows, I wager, IF you knew going in that it was definitely going to be a complete story arc airing that wouldn't leave you hanging IF ratings soured along the way.
     
  9. Huuge Hefner

    Huuge Hefner New Member

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    You are correct about much of this. I appreciate your unjaded view. I am way too cynical, but probably also way too realistic. If the entertainment industry thought like you, maybe this could be the way things are.
     
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  10. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    Possible mucking with Westworld aside... I think HBO and SHO are more likely to use my model of doing things than commercial-TV... since, for HBO for example, it isn't directly about ratings. They aren't selling commercial spots, so the show doesn't have to "win the night" or make back revenue in that way... HBO makes their money directly (or through the cable/satellite middle-man) from subscribers who are paying per month for whatever content HBO sees fit. HBO surely looks at ratings to see what is popular and what isn't... but the ratings themselves for any individual show don't make or break the network, so I suspect the leash can be longer.

    I bet HBO isn't as likely to pull a show mid-season and stop airing it for low ratings. I also bet the are where you have the best chance at convincing them to buy 2+ seasons off your pilot so you could craft a longer term story.
     
  11. Huuge Hefner

    Huuge Hefner New Member

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    I don't think they've ever done that. When you are trying to fill 24 hours on 8 channels, you need content. And when the DVD industry usurps and disrupts your 'movie playback' business and you need to have original content to not get lost in the shuffle, well...I don't even need to complete that sentence, so I wo....
     
  12. RunnerFL

    RunnerFL Well-Known Member

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    Finally started watching now that 4 episodes have aired. I'm digging the show, as I thought I would.
     
  13. Huuge Hefner

    Huuge Hefner New Member

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    You may be heartened to find that the 5th episode is actually the best so far, including the pilot part one.

    This also supports what Evan Rachel Wood (do they get any cuter?) has been saying to the media, which is that her mind was completely blown by the later episodes, that through the first four she thought she had an idea where things might be and was jazzed to be on a great show, but then she later discovered how much greater it was than she ever even imagined.

    I have no earthly idea what is going on here. It is rare for a show to have so much mystery and so many veiled and shrouded plot points and still be so captivating. But I could not care less what is going on here. The numerous 'theories' are just people doing what people are 'programmed' to do, just like the narratives given to the hosts, which is to try to make order out of chaos. It's what we all do our entire lives.

    Plenty of chaos to keep the internet mavens occupied. This is like LOST on steroids. in LOST, we had no idea what was going on, either, although the day-to-day seemed a little more 'normal' and believable than WW, smoke monsters aside. And then we learn that none of it was real at all, which is probably why so many felt gypped by the ending. Oh. Spoiler alert.

    But we learned from LOST that the journey is what is important, and not the destination. So it was completely enjoyable even if it was not real. I expect, and predict, that they have learned from the mistakes of LOST. That was a show that had no idea where it was even headed. The writers were laying track in front of a bullet train trying to keep up.

    WW has a full 5-year plan already on paper, and had most of that before the pilot was even shot, two years ago. So I predict, and expect, a much better payoff. And again, I could care less, because the journey there, even if we have tons of unanswered questions, is just so much damned fun that it doesn't even matter.

    When the full story arc got a little fuzzy for them, after production started (yes, even a 5-year plan needs to be malleable) what did they do? They stopped production until they could sort it out, at great expense, to keep from painting themselves into a corner. That's HBO. What would ABC have done if JJ and Lindelof had gone to the suits and asked for such a break? Kept cracking the whip. That's ABC. And that probably happened. True Detective, also one of the best ever, also with genius writing, had 8 episodes mapped out, and then an empty tank. Maybe HBO has learned some lessons, also. We can only hope.

    I mean, the theories are fun, too, or I would not have introduced that in this thread. Just don't let them distract you from the real fun. Are there two Deloreses? Maybe. I see how that theory has gained credence. But I don't care, and I also expect that two Deloreses would only be the tip of an iceberg much larger than that simple theory (I wish I had two Deloreses, but, Ahem!). And what Delores sees and experiences falls under the 'unreliable narrator' category, because she has visions, hears voices, and is completely out of her little android mind.

    The hinted at motivations of Bernard, Dr. Ford, and all the others are really cleverly introduced, and in no way feel like the hack-based melodramatic tropes shoehorned into wannabes like Timeless, Frequency, and half a dozen other terrible shows this fall (I'm looking at you, Kiefer). Actually, I find the scenes in the tech area and between the staff to be more interesting than any of the scenes in the park proper.

    And it was shot in Utah. Maybe that explains the unprecedentedly beautiful scenery, but maybe it doesn't. I have never seen pictures of Utah that looked anything like this. This show makes you question everything, especially the concepts of reality, to the point where it would not surprise me if the entire thing was CGI at this point.

    As long as I'm predicting, if this show stays this good, it will go down in history as one of the best ever. Hope I didn't jinx them.
     
  14. inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

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    I stopped after the second episode, for the moment. I am going to wait till December and watch the next 8 in a row. I get the feeling it might be even better that way. I really like it so far.
     
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  15. Huuge Hefner

    Huuge Hefner New Member

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    That's a cool approach.

    But for me, the story stays with me after I've watched it. I contemplate the events occasionally for the next couple days, and it makes it better.

    Only a rare few shows can do this, so spacing them out once a week actually works. The ideas are so deep; they are not just like simple events, the questions raised are quite a lot to think about. Important stuff about humanity, and greed, and behavior, that resonate with real questions in real life.

    I don't think of this show as science fiction, although I guess it is. But whatever it is, it has the same moral metaphors that the best science fiction has.
     
  16. armophob

    armophob Difficulty Concen........

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    I think you are right and i feel like I am muddling it with other shows at the same time.

    I can't not watch it every week, but I think I am making a big mistake and losing something by not binge watching it.
     
  17. inkahauts

    inkahauts Well-Known Member

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    Nothing wrong with rewatching it in December to ya know. :)

    I just get the feeling there is a lot of nuance that may show better by seeing it binge style.
     
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  18. RunnerFL

    RunnerFL Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, now that I've watched 4 I may wait for more to build up. I've gotten to used to being able to binge watch good shows. 1 at a time now kills me. lol
     
  19. RunnerFL

    RunnerFL Well-Known Member

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    The same can be said for a lot of shows. It's not a matter of forgetting what happens from week to week it's the fact that you see patterns/events you may not notice when you watch as they air.
     
  20. MysteryMan

    MysteryMan Well-Known Member DBSTalk Club

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    For those of us who enjoy this series it's been renewed for a 10 episode 2nd season.
     

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