I Want a New Show Like Star Trek: The Next Generation or Law & Order
good people, working intelligently to solve complicated problems
For awhile now my girlfriend and I have been in a scenario you may be in yourself: we’re spoiled for choice with such an immense number of shows available, but we have the hardest time sticking with any. We watch a show, both decide it’s pretty good, resolve to watch it, and then after a few episodes we realize it’s been a month since we last watched one. It’s the paradox of choice - because there’s so many options, there’s always the nagging feeling that there’s something better we could be watching, and since hours in the day are limited and the number of shows effectively unlimited, there are real opportunity costs.
In particular, I have felt lately like I’m missing two shows that might not seem connected at first but which share some deep DNA: Star Trek The Next Generation and the original Law & Order. (I don’t know that I’ve ever watched a single minute of the Peacock streaming service, but I’m sorely tempted to with the return of Law & Order.) Those shows have got some qualities that you don’t often find anymore, and I miss them. Like those shows, my dream show would be….
Episodic. I don’t mind overarching storylines that develop over the course of a season. I don’t mind if they’re even more central and complex than, say, Picard’s flute. But I really want an episodic show; I miss episodic television, episodic dramas. With the rise of auteur television came the assumption that dramatic television exists to tell long, overarching stories that develop over entire seasons or series. And those shows can be great. But I really miss the episodic approach, where individual episodes are designed to tell more-or-less contained stories. This is particularly true given that so many contemporary TV shows are afflicted by storylines that are dragged out for no other reason than the expectation that TV shows tell long stories. 45 minutes to an hour can be a great length for a filmed drama. I get that the opposite problem is bad too, where every problem gets solved so ritualistically that there’s no stakes. (Looking at you, Entourage.) But give me a problem-of-the-week show for adults, please, an episodic show that wasn’t made by Chuck Lorre or the Disney channel.