Scott Ellington's Blog

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Lie to Me

I spent the past two evenings streaming the first season of this series via NetFlix, and valuing the experience.

The pilot episode introduces principle characters and simultaneously begs a little  for the suspension of audience skepticism as Tim Roth divines truth from the universe of facial expressions, mannerisms and body language of all things human, deducing implications and preventing ruinous consequences at superhuman speeds.

The first eleven episodes held my attention, although unexplained flaws in the superior inferential skills of the protagonist(s) tended toward redundancy in standalone episodes that linked together on the slender threads of recurrent behaviors exhibited by regular characters.  Episodes twelve and thirteen amply justified the tedium of slogging through familiar situations in episodes two through ten.  The promise of longform storytelling started paying off in Blinded and Sacrifice.  And my appetite for season two was expertly whetted by neatly set up callbacks to earlier episodes by the end of season one.

There is one bizarre inconsistency that centers on Agent Dupree. He’s a short, black FBI agent who swiftly becomes the boyfriend of Ms Tores, a regular high-secondary character.  Dupree makes recurrent appearances throughout the season, as another short, black FBI agent becomes a regular character.   I think the second guy wears mottonchops with moustache and goatee, but he’s practically indistinguishable from Dupree, who ends the season, hospitalized in a coma.

This show also tends to open segments with painfully blinding flashes of light that remind me of the interstitial transitions Angel (presumably) used to replicate  for the audience the experience of Cordelia’s agonizing visions.  It’s that class of unscrupulous manipulations that put me completely off LOST, initially: 

  • Auditory and visual f-bombs,
  • multiple-camera-angles that obfuscate,
  • didactic scores that signal viewer=puppet…

damned familiar devices need serious rethinking, just like the empty claims of aspiring to the “complete immersion” of the audience in the mise-en-scene.  That stuff is counterintuitive nonsense that degrades the bond of trust that must unite the storyteller with the audience in order to share the journey to the far end of the episode, season or run. 

Showrunners who depend on flash and boom to get a physiological start from an audience are like MBAs and CEOs who confuse short-term gains into honest profit.  It’s one of the surest earmarks of employees, surgery with cattleprod. 

A storyteller with a boss tends to become a meddle-manager of cattle.

08 Apr 10 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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