• Member Since 27th Dec, 2011
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You'll find, my friend, that in the gutters of this floating world, much of the trash consists of fallen flowers.

More Blog Posts130

  • Monday
    Breakfast Soup

    I wanted to write this exhaustive academic analysis after revisiting Butterfly Soup, a short visual novel by Brianna Lei, creator of Pom Gets Wi-Fi. She literally writes the best character dialogue since William Shakespeare, so you should buy this game immediately.

    (also it's free)

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    2 comments · 24 views
  • 9 weeks
    To Be Continued

    “The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel, you will never be stuck.”


    Read More

    2 comments · 51 views
  • 9 weeks
    (Un)likeability in characters.

    I noticed that Jamie Foxx's character in Baby Driver is a pretty similar archetype to Mr. Blonde from Reservoir Dogs. They're the psychopath. And among a group of thieves, the others dislike them for being trigger happy and putting everyone at greater risk. Bats and Blonde see it the other way, that they're the only ones being serious and protecting the team. It's everyone else

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    7 comments · 66 views
  • 37 weeks
    Bronycon Traditions

    I've been going to Bronycon since 2015, the year of the largest attendance record. The last one ever is less than a month away. We should honor it by following some of the strange traditions I've accumulated over the years.

    some of these are not actually traditions, but by me pretending they are, they become so :pinkiesmile:

    Escape Room

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    9 comments · 255 views
  • 38 weeks
    Rainbow Power

    So I'm watching this season of a cartoon. The six main characters each get their own individual episode where they must face a difficult decision, and find inner growth. At the end of each episode, they get their own magical glowing trinket to symbolize this character development. Once all six have their trinket, a major bad guy appears, and it turns out those trinkets are used together to unlock

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    8 comments · 186 views

Musical Chairs with Film and TV · 12:16pm Dec 20th, 2016

I saw some crappy internet article complaining about how movies have become way too episodic these days, as if they're becoming TV shows. Star Wars and Marvel's Universe are the obvious offenders here (blame Disney?), where you gotta see every single one of these films to get caught up on the meta-story going on. They're no longer self-contained stories followed by self-contained sequels, but instead designed as fractions of one story. Buy expensive tickets to see them all!

Ironically, I also found this interesting article on Film Crit Hulk about how Television has become LESS episodic than ever. He blames the netflix style of Binge-Watching, not that it's wrong by itself, but because it becomes easier to overlook the flaws in pacing and structure. The writers create episodes that aren't actually episodes. A season more resembles a 12-hour movie with intermissions.

WHAT DO I THINK ABOUT THIS? Well uh.... I'm too lazy to watch any movies, much less the Star Wars and Marvel universes. and I'm too lazy to watch all the recent popular TV shows. Apparently I get entertained by reading children's books and comics instead. Wait, I did watch 2 seasons of Breaking Bad! And I did see Battlestar Galactica (though it's not new), and that was also one of the good examples Hulk listed. So I guess I can have some idea of what he's talking about there. I agree that episodic shows can be important too.

I have my own idea on how the episodic TV structure works and why the movies are doing this, but I'll save that for another post. Otherwise this would turn into another giant essay, and I kinda just wanted to write on this to share some cool examples I've experienced. Also it involves some academic stuff that I'm totally unqualified to touch. I'll still write about it anyway, just not now.

As we know, MLP has bare-bones continuity for a TV show. The beginning and ending of each season has the big world-changing events, but everything in between could happen in any order. There's no meta-story to connect the first and last episodes. The exceptions are Season 4 (the rainbow keys) and Season 6 (Glimmer meets Trixie and Thorax), but those episodes are still a minority there.

But there's another way. I've written before about how Season 1 had this strong theme of a group of friends forming and getting to know each other, ending on the last episode with them drifting apart. You could kinda point to the "gala" as a season arc of continuity, but "Dressed For Success" is just a callback. It doesn't have any impact on the finale (it didn't matter how they got the dresses), so there's only a series of two: getting the tickets and the gala itself. That's just another opener/finale, shifted over by the Nightmare Moon pilot. It doesn't count for me.

Season 5 is the only other one to have a noticable unifying theme (thanks to M.A. Larson). Many of the episodes are about the idea of letting go of the past and moving on. So of course the finale had to reform Starlight Glimmer, because the only way to "defeat" her is to teach her let go of her past grudges (both her childhood friend, and Twilight ruining her village). However, there's no continuity here either (having Glimmer cameos hidden in the background doesn't count).

Seasons 2 and 3 have nothing. Exciting opening + finale, not connected by anything in between. They're just individual episodes, and fans rate those seasons based on how good/bad the parts are. But yeah, it's obvious that MLP isn't the best example here, it's missing out on a lot of the potential because it has to be a randomly-aired children's cartoon. Having continuity (or unifying themes) is an unexpected bonus, not the bread & butter. I'll have to look outside of MLP.

Since reading those articles, I did start thinking more about how shows I watch approach the «unified season» while still remaining episodic. I fell out of anime early on because so often they had terrible pacing. They were usually adapting whatever was written in a manga, without thinking about how it'd work as a TV episode.

I did stick with Gainax shows though. Dubs Rewatcher recently got through Evangelion, and remembering that show made me notice how it was always paced as 1-episode mini-conflicts.... sometimes 2-parters. Despite how huge the story and mythos is, it's much more similar to the Breaking Bad structure than Game of Thrones. Individual episodes become memorable on their own, instead of just remembering the important climax at the end of it all.

Coincidentally I finally FINALLY convinced my friend Scott to give Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann a chance. He complained during the first episode, but got warmed up to it. By the 2nd half, he was completely hooked, watched all the remaining episodes in one sitting. It's such a stupid childish story, about GIANT ROBOTS and FIGHTING SPIRIT, but it's a stupid story that's written far more intelligently than most highbrow shows. Each of the 4 story arcs unfolds and leads into the next. It's as if the writers are saying, "you liked that story? We only showed it to you so we could tell you THIS one." Starting with the 1st episode, you simply can't predict where it eventually leads.

And it works by having every episode stand as its own mini-conflict. Yet all put together the effect is huge. I recall the 2nd arc being so epic in scope. It felt like an entire 26 episode season on its own, traveling halfway around the world, defeating villains, and Simon getting one giant leap in character growth. After it was over, I could hardly believe that only 7 episodes had gone by!

Play your cards early. It forces you to come up with new cards. - Joss Whedon

Here's one I do want to recommend, and I'm not sure how known it is outside of Britain. It's a show called Skins. It's just a teen drama. But an excellent one, and I figure MLP fans would be more open to checking this type of show out. It's hard to describe, but I would compare it to a famous teen drama movie, The Breakfast Club.

that might be totally misleading. the story, characters, themes, and style aren't even alike. but there's a similar.... honesty that they share. Like these aren't sanitized stereotypes, but real characters that teenagers can relate to and want to watch. It's genuine, even if the scandalous elements are highly exaggerated.

I first watched it shortly before discovering MLP, but lately I felt like watching it again, to see if it held up. Well, seasons 2-7 really don't, they're a sometimes-enjoyable mess :pinkiesick:. But season 1... is still a MASTERPIECE. And this time I noticed how brilliant it was at character writing and development. And more than that, how it perfectly used the episodic format to its full potential.

Each episode is centered around a different character in this circle of friends. Each one has its own character growth and major decision. They're so memorable as individual episodes, and it helps that every one of these characters is lovely. Unlike Game of Thrones, you aren't completely lost if you start in the middle, as each episode re-establishes the characters' traits and relationships through their interactions. But at the same time it all builds a meta-story, without ever feeling like filler.

So for example, Cassie's episode is about her own conflict, but because it's told from her point of view, we get to see things that advance everyone else's story. She's the one who meets the crazy drug dealer from Tony's episode, because they share the same group therapy. We get a complete character arc with Cassie, but also set up events and information that'll affect Sid's character in Jal's episode. None of these multiple plot threads are standing still, because they're still moving forward. Just not in main focus, and only from Cassie's perspective. As if they're also advancing because she's there to witness them happening.

(There's one intentional exception to the rule that I can't explain without spoiling EVERYTHING :raritydespair: )

In the last of 9(!) episodes, every thread comes back together to wrap everything up. It's so efficient, and so tightly controlled, I'm in awe of how the writers pulled this off. In shows like Battlestar Galactica, Heroes, Lost, even sometimes a great show like Breaking Bad, I'd often get the gut feeling that the writers were improvising because they didn't plan ahead at all. Skins is seamless, and never seemed confused. For season 1, that is.

If you do want to watch it now, I recommend NOT watching the Netflix versions. The show had brilliant music selection, but couldn't afford to pay all the music licenses again, so quite a few scenes get altered or even deleted. Pirate it or search on Youtube to get the real experience, without Greedo Shooting First :raritywink:

also a warning: the first episode may seem strange and shocking. trust me, keep watching to at least episode 2 to get a better impression of what the show is about. after episode 3 I promise you'll fall in love too.

But I admit that I'm not that familiar with most of the highly recommended TV shows floating around now. Think about your favorites, and maybe recommend some that have a similar tight episodic structure like I enjoyed in Skins? Anime's ok too, but don't give me the ones with manga-derived pacing.

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Comments ( 1 )

I hadn't seen that Joss Whedon quote before. I find I rather like it. :pinkiesmile: It also seems to ring true with my one long-running story, where I wanted to withhold things and work them in later, but I've generally been better off just inserting them and being done with it.

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