Sunday, February 12, 2012

Essential Viewing

Here's an AV Club post about what episode to recommend to a friend to introduce them to your favorite show. What's weird is most of the suggestions are for hourlong serials. With shows of this type, you should just tell them to start at the beginning.

Once you're invested in the plot and the characters, not only is the story easier to follow, but it means more.  I don't know if the suggestion for a season six episode of Buffy makes any sense, since I've never seen the show, but recommending something like "The Constant"?  It's considered a classic Lost episode, and probably works better as a stand-alone than most, but still, if you didn't understand about the Island, or the freighter, or the history of Desmond and Penny, would it play as well? (It certainly wouldn't teach you too much about the show itself.) Or The Sopranos "Long Term Parking." We're in season five, and unless you'd been watching Adriana and Christopher through the years, it won't be nearly so powerful.  Or "Half Measures" from Breaking Bad.  A classic, but half the point is how Walt got to where he is by the end of season three.

On the other hand, I agree that "Marge Vs. The Monorail" is a good place to start with The Simpsons.  "Bambi" is definitely my favorite Young Ones (though being a British series there are only 12 episodes overall anyway).  Still, "The Cheever Letters" strikes me as an odd choice to introduce Seinfeld.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Lawrence King said...

The Buffy episode is almost perfectly analogous to "The Constant". It's a great episode whose payoff is based on the fact that you've been following the show (which was extremely arc-heavy in the later seasons).

The only justification is that the Buffy episode is a musical, and conceivably that's the sort of episode that could pull someone in. But the logic is still flawed, because it's the only episode of the show that was a musical (although there were a couple other episodes with a single musical number in them), so it would give a putative newbie a very wrong idea of the show. Also, while I think that Whedon's lyrics (not surprisingly) and music (surprisingly) were excellent, the singers are the actual cast, and only a couple of them are very strong singers. If you've been watching the show, then it's great to see the actors you love do a good-but-not-great job of singing. But if you don't care about the cast already? I don't think so.

6:08 PM, February 12, 2012  
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