Thursday, September 12, 2013

Comics, TV, and Giving Things a Chance

If you want to recommend a television series to me, the absolute worst thing you can say is, "You have to get through the first season before it really gets good." Fuck that. I already follow too many things to be slogging through a show that doesn't know what it's doing when it starts. It's true that some of my favorite shows got a lot stronger later in their lives (Parks and Recreations and Bob's Burgers spring to mind immediately) but they were still plenty good when they began. They hadn't reached their full potential yet, and maybe they still haven't, but they immediately had a voice and a direction and I liked watching them right away. These days, if the first fifteen minutes (give or take) of the first episode of a show I'm trying out don't do it for me, I abandon ship. It happened earlier this week with Orange is the New Black. I'm sure it gets funny at some point because so many people have told me it does, but it didn't once make me laugh or even smile in the opening half-dozen scenes or so, which means I'm done. Maybe I'm cutting myself off from things I would enjoy. No, not maybe, definitely. But I've got a full enough TV docket as it is, and nobody is ever going to watch every single episode of every single series they could possibly like, so I've got to draw my own lines somewhere. Is my yardstick too short? Probably, but it's suited me just fine for a long time, and I watch tons of excellent stuff all year long.
     With comicbooks, I'm admittedly a bit more patient, though not by much, and when I drop something I drop it just as definitively. Three issues is the standard trial period for a new title, after which if I'm not hooked I walk away as fast as I can, at least until there is a total creative team switch or similarly significant change. I know that, in TV terms, three issues is theoretically three whole episodes, and I'm not totally sure why I'm so much quicker to give up on a show than a comicbook. Part of it is that I love comics more than TV, so I can put up with dreck a little more patiently. There's also the fact that, when reading a comic, I can absorb it at my own pace, whereas shows tell their stories on their own time. I can go back over a given comic scene, page, panel, what have you as many times as needed to see what it's doing, to find the value in it if indeed there is any to be found. Yes, I could rewind a TV show and go through the same process, but they don't naturally lend themselves to that type of consumption. They have a specific rhythm, a deliberate timing that is part of the package, and if I get far enough into an episode and still don't care about it then I can't bring myself to sit through the rest.
     The thing about both TV and comics is that brand new shit is coming out constantly. Just keeping up with the things I'm already following can at times be overwhelming, so I don't think it's unreasonable to be extra picky when it comes to adding anything. In both cases, I already have an ever-growing lists of series I know I need to start, finish, or catch up on so I can begin following them as they come out. There's just not a great deal of room for material that doesn't interest me quickly enough.
     I don't know why I'm writing this, really. I recently decided to drop Larfleeze, and as I mentioned, I had a powerfully negative reaction to Orange is the New Black not long ago, so I guess all of this has just been on my mind for the past few days. Also fall's coming around, which means loads of TV shows have their fresh seasons starting up, so I'm settling back into some old favorites and making decisions about what new things to sample. Finally, several new comicbook titles had their debut issues in the last couple weeks, and I'm planning to do a comparison of them all here on the blog once I finally get back to my local shop. Until then, I suppose this is a sort of unofficial prelude to that post, an excuse to publish online the thoughts that have been bouncing around my brain lately anyway.

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