I started watching Cowboy Bebop in the last few months. I’m not yet through the series, and I’ve enjoyed it so far, but something that has caught my attention since I began watching it has been the conversations I’ve had surrounding it.
“I started Cowboy Bebop last night.”
“Oh, nice! I like that show. It doesn’t really have an overarching story but it’s still pretty good.”
“I can’t hang today, I’m watching Cowboy Bebop right now.”
“Oh, I watched that but it’s pretty episodic.”
Why does the quality of this show seem to come with a disclaimer that it’s episodic?
Serialization has taken over television in the past two decades and is fairly synonymous with the rise of the Golden Age of TV. With this rise in serialization, episodic television started to crumble; specifically the dissolution of how episodic television is perceived.
The word “episodic,” in many cases, is currently seen as an automatic con. The word “procedural” makes some TV fans run away in disgust, rushing to their favorite show to cleanse their minds with some sweet serialization. What is it about serialization that is so great? And what about episodic that is so wrong?
Episodic television provides singular stories within each episode that often don’t connect to each other in any significant way. Whether that’s solving a new mystery each week or getting into a new crazy situation with the gang, each episode stands alone. Due to their bite-sized nature and adherence to a status quo, major plot lines don’t move forward very quickly, if there are even any at all. Common complaints towards episodic television are its repetitiveness and lack of build to any major climax – two issues that serialization can solve quite nicely.
Serialization provides an opportunity for consistent character development, multiple intriguing plots, and major changes in the status quo – all ingredients to create an engrossing story from start to finish. It’s easier to get sucked into the story because each episode plays as a chapter within a larger plot, begging you to hit play on the next episode to find out what happens next. Cliff hangers and plot twists galore! Now THAT’s entertainment. They also provide something that episodic television shows don’t get to benefit from – a crutch.
Serialized television means that the story doesn’t end at the conclusion of an episode. This promise of a continued story lures viewers into watching the next episode based on what might happen, instead of being solely dependent on the quality of previous episodes. Serialized shows can lean on this crutch to help carry their stories and audiences with them throughout the series. You have to watch them all because each episode matters by its relation to what’s come before and what will happen next.
Episodic television doesn’t have this crutch. Instead, they have to go through the difficult process of making each episode matter on its own terms. Creating meaning for singular episodes is not easy, but when done correctly episodic television shows can provide a wider (and in some ways deeper) exploration of character and themes.
Lost Discussion 10 Years Post-Finale: What Worked, What Didn’t, and What Should’ve
To highlight the power of episodic television, let’s once again turn to my favorite beautiful mess of a series: Lost. Viewers got hooked on Lost due to its intriguing characters and tantalizing mysteries, and many fans stuck with the series until the end just to see how it all ended, despite falling out of love with the show long before. Each season ended with a massive cliffhanger that kept viewers checking their calendars for the return of the show, and even today encourages binge-watching with its serialized “find out what happens next” format.
And yet the series’ most acclaimed episode, “The Constant,” is one of the most stand-alone episodes of the series. It uses characters and plot threads from previously established episodes, sure, but the story of a man hopping back and forth through time and reconnecting with his long lost love is very self-contained. The logistics of the plot-line are all explained and concluded within the episode, and the love story is told in a way that first-time viewers can immediately identify with. The contained story also helps keep this potentially convoluted time-hopping plot clean and centered, forcing the story to be as lean as possible and not giving it a chance to overstay its welcome.
When episodic television is taken full advantage of, wild and risky story-telling techniques can be attempted without threatening to derail the series. As episode counts for seasons get shorter, I fear that these riskier episodes will be tossed aside in favor of consistent storytelling for a long-form narrative. An episode like Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s brilliant “Hush” doesn’t seem as likely to be green-lit if that means 10% of the season is going to be dialogue-less. Episodes like Breaking Bad’s “Fly” will become less and less acceptable the further we get from episodic storytelling, and you don’t have to go much further than the split reaction to that episode to understand why.
“Fly” is the most unique episode of Breaking Bad for many reasons. Its plot-line is razor-thin, its cinematography is much more experimental, and it doesn’t move the main plot along at all. But this experiment allows us an in-depth look at Walt’s mental state and the thematic resonance the fly represents to his world. The changes to the usual structure of Breaking Bad proved to be too much of a departure for many fans, though. This wasn’t the Breaking Bad they had signed up for.
This is ironic because, as I stated before, one of the biggest criticisms of episodic television is its repetitive nature and adherence to a status quo. Tune in, solve a mystery with your favorite characters, and see you next week, folks! It’s almost like comfort food (which in some circles is somehow seen as a bad thing).
I’d argue that serialized formatting encourages the “comfort food” idea even more, despite its ability to change its characters and status quos, because serialization requires consistency – consistency in writing, direction, character choices, musical score, etc. The world and characters may change each episode, but the structure normally does not.
Episodic television doesn’t have this limit. It allows for structural changes. Characters can be explored not just through varying situations, but through varying storytelling techniques. You can look at an apple with the naked eye, but you’ll see it differently under the lens of a microscope, or through a window, or in a mirror. This is what episodic television can provide when taken advantage of – completely different approaches to the story and characters, or perhaps even completely different characters!
Yet today the format is ignored by many outside of comedies. For some reason, singular episodes are just fine for providing us laughs, but not for drama. Perhaps this is a result of too many episodic shows resting on their laurels and just repeating what works, or maybe it’s the result of some of the greatest dramas ever created pushing serialization to its finest peaks.
However, I hope the conversation around episodic television changes, and instead of dismissing the format audiences instead begin pushing for series that actually take full advantage of what an episode structure can provide in terms of storytelling. Some of the most inspirational series ever created were episodic (The Twilight Zone, Columbo, The X-Files), and I hope the format lives on, both on its own and within serialized stories, and receives the respect it deserves.
What do you all think of episodic television versus serialized? Am I totally out of touch and all of your friends love episodic TV and hate serialization? Let us know in the comments below!
(As I was editing this article, I came about this quote from an interview on IO9 about Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop remake: “Another reason for making tweaks to Bebop’s story is that the team behind the show wanted to broaden out Spike’s story into a longer narrative in and of itself…”
So it seems as though even the episodic show that inspired this article will be remade to be more serialized. Take that as you will!)
YOU Review – Portrait of the Artist (402)
And the murder mystery continues on YOU Season 4 Episode 2.
Joe, er, Jonathan, has been going above and beyond to figure out which of the members of the elitist circle could be the murderer that’s trying to frame him, but it looks like he’s being played at his own game.
Honestly, it’s kind of refreshing to see Joe on the other side of things for once—running around terrified like a chicken without a head and trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle.
He’s not in a city that’s familiar to him, and he’s definitely not in his element. And while he fell into a friends circle of some of the most insane and damaged people on earth, his charm isn’t working on them or in his favor in the same way that it has countless times before.
And what’s making this all the more disturbing is that there’s someone out there that’s actually more deranged than Joe. Joe pales in comparison to the person that’s stabbing people left and right and keeping body parts as tokens of some sort, likely to frame Joe in the long run by planting those body pieces on his belongings or in his apartment.
The person is hiding in plain sight and utilizing all common and familiar murder mystery tropes, including that the second victim is always the first suspect.
The crimes are gruesome and terrible, but it’s also hard to feel bad for any of the victims as the whole bunch—maybe aside from Rhys—is genuinely unlikable. Mostly everyone in the wealthy group has no redeeming qualities, and most of them don’t even seem too phased by the deaths in their inner circle because the truth is that none of these shallow people actually like or care about each other.
YOU does a great job at making us question Joe’s sanity and then immediately introducing people who are even worse than him, proving that the world seems to be full of unhinged people everywhere you go.
Joe doesn’t have much to go on at the end of episode 2 as every single person he’s come across could potentially be the killer. He has, however, seemingly figured out some kind of connection between Malcolm and Simon’s deaths, though it’s unclear if that has any bearing on their deaths.
Blackmail seems to be a common thread, with Malcolm likely blackmailing Adam, who fancies himself a golden shower from the bus boys at his establishment, while planning to take down Simon, a fraud who stole artists’ work to pass off as his own. Joe learned the truth about Simon from his assistant, who crashed the opening and threw red paint at him (he had it coming). She also confirmed that Malcolm was trying to expose him, and while she definitely has the motive, I don’t think she would stoop that low. She wanted to make a statement—she didn’t want to be the statement.
At this point, the only person who stands to gain anything from the destruction of both men is Kate as she was in a relationship with Malcolm and a gallery partner with Simon, whose secrets threatened her career. But I’m not convinced that she’s responsible. She genuinely seems like one of the only good and level-headed people in the group, not to mention she’s also concerned about Malcolm’s disappearance meaning she likely has no idea he’s dead.
It could’ve been Adam to keep his sexual kink a secret, but I don’t think he’d have it in him.
The timing of Roald’s arrival was suspect, as was his immediate distaste for Jonathan, so I’ll keep him on the list. Joe may be the new guy, but he shows up right before the second murder.
If I truly had to put my money on someone, my prime suspect is still Rhys. There’s just something off about him, plus, he carries himself as if he’s above them all, so it would make sense if he was trying to make them pay for their sins or something. He’s also very observant, thus, he’d be knowledgeable about all of their deepest and darkest secrets, which could be used against them. It would also make sense that he used his status and smarts to dig up dirt about Joe.
The killer seems to be having an absolute blast toying with Joe, even beating him at his own game by figuring out his identity.
It sent a chill down Joe’s spine—and I didn’t think it was possible to freak Joe out. In an attempt to stay ahead of the killer, Joe is somehow trying to play catch up.
What if it’s Marienne? What if she’s turning the tables on him? It seems like the killer is using Joe’s psychological warfare against him, which means that they have a lot in common. It has to be someone that Joe has connected with on a personal level already, so aside from Rhys and Kate, that leaves Nadia rounding out the top three suspects. She’s been helping him figure out the murder mystery genre, which might be a clue as to her involvement. Plus, we find out that she had some kind of personal relationship with Malcolm, though it’s unclear if it was sexual.
I really hope that she’s just a genuine person helping her teacher, but at this point, we can’t rule anything out.
And finally, there’s the possibility of Adam and Phoebe’s security guard, Vic, who is silent but deadly. He sees everything that’s happening (he ticks off the observant box for sure) but doesn’t say anything, though we know he’s not above blackmail because when he catches Joe snooping around, he takes a lump sum of money to remain quiet.
What did you think of the episode? Who do you think the killer is?
What Happened to Levi on ‘La Brea’?
Levi is back in 10,000 B.C.!
On the February 14the episode of La Brea, titled “The Return,” Nicholas Gonzalez’s character did just that, jumping through space and time, okay, fine, maybe just a sinkhole, to make his way back to the prehistoric era.
Gavin was rather shocked to see him, and rightfully so, especially considering Levi’s altered appearance—he aged 10 years. Levi explained that while they last saw him in 1988, just a few days ago, for him, a decade passed, and he’s coming from 1998.
The passing of time is a crazy concept on this show, but it allows them to play around with timelines and fun twists.
Levi’s return doesn’t come from a place of longing for Eve either—he has a goal to kill James to stop the sinkholes that have continued causing issues in 1988… and even led to the death of his wife, who was his co-worker at the DOD. Another shocking development that we’ll surely dig into in future episodes.
James has taken everything from Levi at this point—his wife and previously, his shot at happiness with Eve, so he’s a man scorned.
To get close to James, Levi is going to require Eve’s assistance, but will she help him? Only time will tell.
You can read our in-depth review of La Brea Season 2 Episode 10 now.
Original article published — 2/7/23
La Brea Season 2 returned from its midseason hiatus on Jan. 31, but fans were quick to point out that one major character was missing from the double-dose of episodes: Levi Delgado (played by Nicholas Gonzalez).
Immediately after the episode aired, questions began to pour in with fans asking what happened to Levi and if we’ll see him again.
The answer—maybe….possibly. After all, anything is possible on La Brea, right?
As for what happened to Levi, well, if you’ll recall during the La Brea fall finale, Levi and Eve (Natalie Rea) parted ways in 1988. Eve’s heart has been torn between Levi and her estranged husband, Gavin (Eoin Macken) for quite some time, especially after it was revealed that Gavin’s visions—the one that led to their split and pushed her into Levi’s arms—were real all along. This caused a lot of guilt for Eve, and that guilt eventually played into her decision to leave Levi behind and follow her family back to 10K B.C.
In the final moments spent in 1988, Gavin’s mother informed him that they had to go back to 10K B.C. to upload a virus that would shut down the portal that was causing catastrophes like the sinkholes, including the one set to open in Los Angeles in just a few days.
Of course, if they damaged the time machine, they would never be able to leave 10K B.C. again, which meant everyone had a pretty tough choice to make. Except for Eve, who didn’t really have a choice. Choosing to stay behind with Levi meant that she would be turning her back on her family and potentially never seeing them again. All her kids have ever wanted was the family back together, so her decision was made with them in mind. While I’m sure on some level, she also considered her relationship with Gavin, she ultimately made the jump back to keep her family intact.
And that meant leaving behind Levi, who decided he was going to stay in the ’80s and make a life for himself. If you think about it, it was the only decision that made sense for him considering there was a slim chance of living a decent life in 10K B.C. And it wouldn’t be wise to go back down there and risk your life with a woman who was one foot into the relationship and one foot out. It would be a huge sacrifice to make for Eve without any guarantee that they’d end up together.
Both Levi and Eve seemed in agreement that their romance was over and they parted ways graciously.
At the time of the finale, fans were under the impression that Gavin, Eve, and co. were going to destroy the time machine, which meant destroying any chance of ever seeing Levi again. This was a permanent goodbye in their eyes.
However, once they got back down to 10K B.C., Gavin couldn’t go through with uploading the virus after seeing a vision of Eve dying. His father, James, convinced Gavin that he had a way to fix the portal so that they could use it without causing any more harm to the environment, which also meant that he had a chance at saving Eve from death in the prehistoric ages. Gavin’s love for her has always been very evident, so it’s not surprising that he chose this route.
But his decision also keeps the door open for Levi to return down the line in future episodes.
If there is still a portal to travel between time periods, Levi may not be out of the game just yet.
It’s unclear how or why he would come back to 10K B.C—maybe he’ll come back with more information about the sinkholes and portal, maybe he’ll return after feeling guilty for leaving his friends (Gavin included) behind, or maybe he’ll miss Eve so much that he takes the leap at the first chance he gets.
It’s even possible that Eve finds a way to communicate with him while he’s in 1988, which would keep him around but not in the same time period. Talk about a long-distance relationship.
The point is, I wouldn’t count Levi out just yet. The actor was a huge draw for the show, and while not everyone loved his romance with Eve or the love triangle, I don’t think they’d write him off so quickly, especially without giving Eve and Levi proper closure. If it really is over, Eve needs to be sure of her decision, and again, she only chose to return to 10K B.C. for her family.
There seems to be a hint about Levi’s return with the upcoming episode, set to air on Tuesday, Feb. 14, called “The Return.” The title seemingly alludes to Levi’s return, but the synopsis makes me think that it’s a surefire guarantee.
6 Sexy Shows to Watch for Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day can be celebrated in all sorts of different ways.
Some people bake cookies, others go out for a romantic date, while some do a fun activity with their significant other.
However, this is the first Valentine’s Day under COVID-19 restrictions, which means that you likely don’t have as many fun and romance-filled options as in years prior.
That’s where TV comes in! Regardless if you’re spending February 14 with a significant other or your besties, these are some of the sexiest and steamiest shows to watch on the day that’s all about celebrating L-O-V-E (for friends, family, significant others, and, most importantly, yourself!)
Romance, scandal, drama… Bridgerton has it all! Dubbed the Regency-era Gossip Girl, Netflix’s smash hit and most-watched series is a brilliant and entertaining period piece with enough sex scenes to make you blush. And Regé-Jean Page isn’t bad on the eyes.
Emily in Paris
Emily in Paris, which was just surprisingly nominated for a Golden Globe, hails from Sex and the City creator Darren Star. It’s an airy flick about a millennial named Emily who travels to Paris for a dream job and becomes enamored with the City of Love and the men that want to show her all that it has to offer.
Falling in love requires you to be open, honest, and vulnerable. The American rom-com anthology web series, based on a weekly column published by the New York Times, explores themes of love (romantic, platonic, friendly) with a star-studded cast. The 30-minute episodes are standalone and easily digestible, which makes them the perfect viewing on a night like Valentine’s Day.
What happens when Liza, a 40-year-old single mom, decides to be 26-years old in order to re-enter the working world and falls in love with not one but two very different men? An exciting journey through the world of publishing and heartbreak. As Liza tries to find herself, she does everything in her power to hide her true self from those she’s become most intimate with. It’s another whip-smart Darren Star creation!
Two sisters, Beth and Annie, along with best friend Ruby find themselves embroiled in a dangerous life of crime after robbing a grocery store. Beth, specifically, falls victim to a crime of passion with one sexy “gang friend” that pulls her further and further into his world.
If Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars had a baby, it would be this Spanish-language drama. A private school becomes the scene of a murder after a clash between the rich and poor students. There’s plenty of sexual tension and unexpected turns as detectives try to narrow down the list of suspects.
** Article originally published in February 2021**
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