No your TV series isn’t an eight-hour movie, it’s a TV series | US television


There’s a curious mutation that is spreading across the entertainment industry, changing shape and messing with the times. TV series, it seems, continue to become movies. They’re probably not patient nil, but Game of Thrones’ showrunners are undoubtedly super spreaders for this current wave, having sparked controversy by describing their 2017 show as “a 73-hour movie.” Soon the TV landscape was teeming with series rebranded as films of varying but uniformly hefty length. The idiom was reused often enough to achieve “curse of all existence” status for TV critics and to inspire a Shouts and Murmurs piece in the New Yorker. Now, to quote a show that not long ago sparked a powder keg of debate about the difference between film and television: “It’s happening again.”

Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, co-creators of the upcoming Addams Family reboot Wednesday for Netflix, spoke the magic words in an interview with Vanity Fair earlier this week, stating that “the show’s ambition was to be an eight-hour lasting Tim. Burton movie.” (Burton is on board as executive producer and director for four of the eight episodes.) They’ve dusted off the old sound bite during a period of heightened criticism for it, with The Boys head honcho Eric Kripke recently stepping up to the challenge. directors who claim to have conceived their series as a kind of movie, he said, “Fuck you! No you’re not! Make a TV show. You’re in the entertainment business.” In Olivier Assayas’ new miniseries, in which he reimagines his 1996 showbiz satire Irma Vep, the show’s director on the show invokes the adage of the eight-hour film in an interview as if he were making fun of the inescapability When speaking to me in Cannes earlier this year, he confirmed that he does not share the mindset, and that this line shares the caricature soup that accentuates the rest of the series.

To understand the cause of all the fuss that comes from an apparently factual figure of speech, one has to be aware of the connotations and prejudices that have been tacitly encoded in the TV-to-movie pivot. When TV creators compare their work to a movie, they invite a myriad of associations touted by the praise of ’00s classics like The Sopranos or The Wire that emphasized their ‘cinematic’ qualities: ambition of scale, long-game storytelling, technical sophistication with the camera. When writers made this comparison, it scanned as insight; from the mouth of directors, it sounds more like image control, a broader assurance that the series in question has achieved enough to be compared to the big boys of the silver screen. It is a method of preemptively classifying the connection and distancing TV from a perceived dinkiness that is seen as inextricably linked to the character of the medium.

A still by Irma Vep. Photo: HBO

And so one begins to see the condescension in this mindset that alienates anyone who has invested in respect and appreciation for TV. Even if the “X-hour movie” line hadn’t been used as an excuse for plotting episode by episode with blatant disregard for the subtle art of tempo, it would still be fundamentally inaccurate. Using an entire season to tell an overarching story, broken up into segments, doesn’t fit cinema in the form of TV, but the very definition of TV itself. Those writers who subscribe to that flawed philosophy did not reject serialization, but decided to be bad at it. Every great TV show has found a way to tell stories within the space of an episode that nevertheless coalesce into a greater narrative structure. Streaming allows us to eliminate the time between episodes, and too many people see that as an implicit permission to leave the building blocks of art.

The “X-hour movie” quasi-meme betrays a confused notion of dignity and creative validity as directors with inferiority complex imagine they will be taken more seriously if they decide their fate at the cinema. (Note that the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise executives are hesitant to bill their product as a TV show, even if they force serial stories and take the polished grandeur out of the cinema.) This amounts to a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, in that TV will never gain status until those who make it wear its size with pride. Everyone would do well to embrace the qualities unique to their chosen field as benefits to work with, not limitations to overcome. Until they do, there’s an easy way to expose the absurdity of TV wrapping itself in movie clothes: The next time you hear someone blow up a show’s prestige like this, imagine the most embarrassing, instead. amateurish, despicable film for any you’ve ever seen. (I’d love to join The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure.) Let the example be a lesson – that words have meanings, that form cannot be synonymous with quality, and that there are far worse things than TV.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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