Financial Times states something every parent has noticed: kids don't watch broadcast TV the way their parents did. (I'd link, but I cut the the pullquote it included a plea not to cut and paste the article. So I won't.) One of the reasons might the vast number of shows kids can watch, knowing they come to a satisfying end. Or at least an end. Who wants to get invested in something that might be snatched away in three weeks?
Example. Here’s a preview of a Fox show about a nice small town where everything is not as it seems. You can tell it’s evil because the sheriff is friendly and makes a banal remark about ice cream with a smile on his face. Yes: that evil.
How creepy is this town? Well, there’s a music box playing in the trailer, which is always a sign that Satan is around the corner. When did that start? It used to be the sound that made people regret the loss of childhood or look back with bittersweet nostalgia; now it’s the sound of imminent evil.
The town is called “Wayward Pines,” because the founders looked around and saw lots of pines that were out of place. “Off-Course Elms” was in the running for the town’s name as well.
Google around a bit, and voila:
In addition, Wayward Pines boasts a strong cast of character actors playing archetypes right up their alley, be it Oscar-winner Melissa Leo (Prisoners) as Nurse Pam, a caretaker whose bubbly exterior disguises her sinister intent – or Terrence Howard (The Butler) being all smiles as the untrustworthy lawman Sheriff Arnold Pope, whose habit of constantly snacking on ice cream drumsticks feels like a nod to the coffee/pie running bit on Twin Peaks.
Yeah. Or rather, no. Not because M. Night is behind it; not because the Small Town With Dark Secrets idea has been a TV cliche ever since Peyton Place. It’s because I don’t trust network TV to finish a show that has a Big Secret. Fox has ordered ten episodes, but if it doesn’t do well that’ll be it, and I doubt they shot the tenth to wrap it up. If if does do well, then we have ten more episodes in which the Big Secret won’t be revealed, and it’s all one long will-he-escape-or-won’t-he until it’s cancelled. If they’d announced it’s a ten-ep show and no more, I’d watch it.
Not to say that all shows that END do so with all the questions answered. I’m still ashamed at the amount of time I spent justifying the last episode of “The Prisoner”. As McGoohan later said:
When the last episode came out in England, it had one of the largest viewing audiences, they tell me, ever over there, because everyone wanted to know who Number 1 was, because they thought it would be a ‘James Bond’ type of Number 1. When they did finally see it, there was a near-riot, and I was going to be lynched. And I had to go into hiding in the mountains for two weeks, until things calmed down.
I still think “Lost” should have ended with everyone finding the Village.