Self-contained, episodic storytelling has fallen by the wayside in a lot of cinematic media, particularly for live-action television shows. Now the emphasis is on long-form story-telling suitable for the new era of binge-watching. The technology allowing one to stream episodes on demand rather than planning out your week by the TV guide and waiting for reruns if, heaven forbid, you missed an episode, has changed the nature of the storytelling format. I don’t think that is a bad thing, especially since I love “novels for television.” I do love long-running arcs that explore repercussions of the choices that characters make, sometimes only showing the full effect seasons later.
But I think that sometimes the power of self-contained episodes gets ignored or brushed off as a relic solely related to the technology that distributed it. Just because a show is comprised of self-contained episodes does not necessarily compromise its impact. A collection of short stories linked by the same characters can be just as powerful as a single giant novel. In some cases, it can be even more effective, depending on the kind of stories you want to tell. This is something I’ve really come to understand and appreciate as my friend Fox and I spend our evenings watching Star Trek: The Next Generation through Netflix Parties.
I recently read a book called iDisorder, which was recommended to me by my onii-san, David Greenshell. It’s about how the pervasive technology around us has encouraged the widespread development of behaviors that have the same symptoms as mental disorders, such as OCD, ADHD, addiction, narcissism, depression, and schizophrenia. I highly recommend it because so many behaviors that seem “normal” now in relation to technology maybe shouldn’t be granted an exemption from concern.
Before I go any father, let me just say that I am not a naysayer to technology. I have this blog, don’t I? I also have numerous accounts all over the web, I own a cell phone (not a SmartPhone, thank God), and I probably spend more time than I should on Facebook and Twitter. I suppose I am a little different from the majority of my generation because I do not have internet access at home, nor do I own a laptop, tablet, e-reader, or any other device that would allow me ubiquitous access to the world wide web. Sometimes this is frustrating, even inhibiting. It’s hard to look for, or even consider pursuing, an online job without a constant internet connection, and my friends can tell you just how furious I was to hear that Diablo 3 didn’t have an off-line option like its predecessors.
My brain is in a weird place right now. I’m currently reading The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry) by Siva Vaidhyanathan and just finished listening to the audiobook version of M Is for Magic, a collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman, and I’ve been on a real Star Wars kick after rewatching the VHS tapes of the original trilogy.
It’s very odd to have the realms of reality, dreams, and speculation all intersecting and intermingling in your head at the same time.