In the past ten years or more, television has gone through an artistic renaissance, with cable dramas from The Sopranos to Breaking Bad helping to redefine the medium as the preeminent form of long-form visual storytelling. Even so, as both premium cable and its basic brother allow creative people to stretch out, telling the kinds of stories that might not fit on one of the major networks, network television is dying a slow death, as reality shows dominate more and more of the primetime schedule.
Every Thursday, our feature Recurring Episodes will tackle one episode of a particular program in an attempt to discuss what is great about television, what needs improvement, and what we might have lost as the creative forces have moved from producing shows for the broader network audience into the more niche-based cable formats. The aforementioned great cable dramas will be examined through the lens of a single episode, showing how it may be a piece of a larger work, a standout of its kind, or even an oddity that’s worth exploring. Furthermore, the feature will look at episodes from older series as well, showing how they might have influenced the sensibilities of this new Golden Age of Television, or how certain television tropes have gone by the wayside, for better or even, sometimes, for worse.
These will be in-depth examinations of television as a whole and in part, with the single episodes acting as a gateway to the bigger questions of what works, what doesn’t, and why. Spoilers will be present in these recaps and their analysis, but the point isn’t simply to rehash what happened in a particular show. Hopefully, one need not be a fan of one of the shows covered to find something of worth in the pieces themselves. Maybe it will spark interest, for fans new and old, or maybe not, but don’t say we didn’t try.
Thus, Recurring Episodes, airing every Thursday on FR, at 8AM ET/5 AM PT. Check your local listings.
First Up, Next Thursday, April 21 – The Shield, Season One, Episode Ten: “Dragonchasers”