The Power Of Returning Series

Everyone loves a good TV drama serial - and the recent Criminal Justice, aired across five consecutive nights, was a very good TV drama serial. Yet there's something about the returning series - and I'm including "continuing drama" here, or soap, or whatever you want to call it - that can really deliver an unbeatable punch to the gut. I'll be stating the obvious here, but more in celebration of the art-form than attempting to make some big revelation.

Last night, I watched the final episode of a returning British TV drama series. It's one of the shows I need to catch up on, because I want to write for it. And one of the regular characters got killed. I'd been warned that this particular show had a somewhat ruthless approach to its regulars, but it was a big shock nonetheless. Not just because it was a surprise and a Big Moment, but because I felt I knew this character so well. After all, I'd spent a total of approximately 26 hours in their company. I'd watched them win the day, be a hero, be totally depressed and generally ponder their own existence. I'd done time with this person. Then, the next thing I knew, their corpse was being dragged out of a room. That's a big "ulp" moment, right there.

That's one of continuing drama's real strengths - big moments that really mean something, due to the amount of time we've devoted to the show. When it's done well, the viewer virtually feels grief. I felt like that last night. And Christ, don't even get me started on incredible US cop show The Shield (pic above). At the end of one of its seasons, something terrible happened which I still don't think I've come to terms with. I'm probably still in denial.

Warning: if anyone mentions Ethel Skinner from EastEnders, I will weep.


William Gallagher said...

Couldn't agree more. A returning series can knock you off your feet with even a tiny moment when that's been built to. I wrote somewhere that the Veronica Mars series would whisper in your ear about something for 20 weeks and then the 21st episode delicately smashes you in the face with a cricket bat.


David Bishop said...

The death of ****** in The Shield was one of those moments that just haunts you. There's a wonderful commentary on another season finale that describes events as an 'emotional clusterfuck'. Sums up the end of season five just as accurately.

DavidM said...

Grange Hill's Danny Kendal RIP

^^^miss u mate - nevar 4get!!!

Also, when they killed off Jesus in The Bible I was like, whoa! Never saw that coming!
(then they tried to bring him back from the dead = lol jump the shark much?)