It seems like there are a lot of K&P sketches that find their way online. Is that something that you guys really have to push for, or is it something Comedy Central is already forward-thinking in terms of internet buzz?
CC is very aware of the online popularity of the show, but getting sketches online is something we had to push for, since tv viewers are what pays the bills. This season the network puts two sketches from every episode online (the selection is guided by what sketches people on twitter and Facebook talk about the most), but any more than that is something we really have to fight for. When lots of people request a certain sketch, it definitely helps our case.
There’s a popular quote (that I first heard from a high school teacher) that says “It’s not the destination…it’s the ride.” That might be great life advice, but I’ve noticed lately that a lot of the things I watch, particularly TV, seem to take it a little too literally. In reality, the best entertainment is a combination of both.
Halfway through tonight’s episode of “The Walking Dead,” I found myself consumed with an overwhelming sense of apathy. At first, I couldn’t figure out why. The episode wasn’t bad…the events that happened were interesting…so why didn’t I care? And then I realized: I’ve lost faith in the ride.
Television is, at its least cynical, a deal between the audience and the show. “Give us some of your time each week and we will deliver a story that you’ll enjoy.” The rules tend to be different for comedies and dramas. The goal of a comedy is to make you laugh. People will forgive a comedy that doesn’t have an overarching storyline because that’s not necessarily what they’re looking for. They’re looking for engaging characters that make them laugh. The great comedies are the ones that can do both, but it’s not a requirement. Comedy can succeed without a consistent throughline. And, in the end, if the characters are given happy endings, we’re all happy.
Drama is different. Drama is inherently story-driven. It’s not about what the characters say, or how they say it, it’s about what happens to them. And what the consequences are. And that’s why dramas have the added pressure of delivering endings that aren’t just satisfactory, but that justify everything that’s come before. No one wonders what happened to Janice from “Friends.” People still wonder what happened to the Russian from that one episode of “The Sopranos.”
Comedy has an episodic A-B storyline. A good episode will start a character at A and end them at B. Drama has a series-long A-B storyline. Characters start at A and get to B in the final episode. Great dramatic series have a flawless A-B journey, one in which there’s no wheel-spinning, no stalling for time. It’s rare. “Breaking Bad” is the closest to that flawless journey that I’ve seen.
"Lost" got it all wrong. It had an amazing A (people stranded on a weird island) and a satisfying B (everyone gets together at the end to go to the afterlife). But it put its focus on what I’ll call A 1/2: they set up so many mysteries and loose ends that were never paid off, that no destination would be satisfactory. "Lost" didn’t just rely on the ride: it was all ride.
Which brings me to “The Walking Dead.” If I could compare it to anything, I’d compare it a soap opera. Soap operas have no end game in mind. The only thing that’s important is the present. What came before doesn’t matter. There is no endgame. It’s all about the here and now. And that’s fine…if you’re into that kind of thing. But I’m not. I don’t get why people watch soap operas. Comic books are the same…no endgame, just the here and now. But it’s a different medium, one where success depends on perpetual continuation.
Dramatic television, at its core, depends on resolution. From the pilot episode on, the great TV shows are working toward that resolution. And I don’t believe that “The Walking Dead” is doing that. Does that mean it will end unsatisfactorily? Not necessarily. But it means that it is losing the thing that sets great TV shows apart from average ones: audience investment. Consequence. The great shows aren’t meant to be a means of indeterminate employment for cast and crew - they’re meant to be satisfying stories. Characters aren’t meant to be zombie bait - they’re meant to be identifiable.
Can “The Walking Dead” pull it out? Maybe but, I doubt it. Are my standards too high? Probably. Will I keep watching the show? Yes. If only because it’s a surprising story, one that keeps you guessing at every twist and turn. But that doesn’t make it a good one.
This is really great, true, and 100% why I stopped watching The Walking Dead and haven’t looked back since. The main advantage tv has over movies is the ability to tell a very long and complicated story. Failure to respect that, failure to honor that opportunity, and I’m done. I tune out. I won’t make the investment if you can’t hold up your end of the bargain with the storytelling. Truly great shows are rare.