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June 14, 2009

Short Attention Span Theater

With the promise of a five episode story arc to launch Torchwood season 3, the Guardian TV&Radio Blog yearns for a return to episodic science fiction television.

Personally, I blame J Michael Straczynski. Back in the early 1990s, Straczynski, or JMS as fans know him, created Babylon 5. When it was first shown on Channel 4, it looked like a science-fiction series about a space station. The CGI was a bit shonky, but it passed the time.

Inexorably, though, it became clear that JMS, a control freak who wrote 92 of the show's 110 episodes himself, had an overarching vision. It involved a portentous brew of big themes – politics, destiny, war, peace, love. If you tried to start watching Babylon 5 with series three, you were left hopelessly confused.

Which is to confuse a story told over five episodes and a story told over five years (or, for B5, 4 years +). Comments to the piece point out there would not have been much Doctor Who if the show had been strictly episodic.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 14, 2009 08:44 AM