The digital age has changed television dramatically within the past two decades. With the advent of cable channels, home video media, dish on demand and the internet, the average TV viewer has a variety of venues to access television programs. With all these ways to access television shows, the viewing audience has become more aware of repetitive story lines, inconsistency in character development and continuity errors. In short, these advances in technology have made for a more sophisticated casual television viewer, therefore allowing for the progression of serialized storytelling.
Today’s television writers have a landscape to develop complex narratives beyond the limitations of the episodic format, and now that audiences have better accessibility to these shows, there is a higher demand for serialized storytelling where there wasn’t one before.
Although there have been many television shows that have contributed to the overall progression of the modern serialized television series, I would like to highlight six that I believe have best utilized the advances of technology and how their impact has permeated serialized television.
It wasn’t a big surprise that Stevie Nicks would kick off the final episode of American Horror Story: Coven, since Ryan Murphy had reported that the White Witch would appear in two episodes this season. The images of Nicks spinning through Miss Robichaux’s Academy while lip-syncing to her Fleetwood Mac hit “Seven Wonders”, left me realizing something important: Coven may be the weakest of American Horror Story’s first three seasons, but this season boasts the best cast – and I’m actually going to miss most of Coven’s characters. With Douglas Petrie helming the script and Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directing, tonight’s episode, appropriately titled “The Seven Wonders”, is a strong finish to an uneven but always entertaining season. The reveal of the next Supreme comes not without a price, as some witches die this time around, and never to return.
The January television premieres have finally settled down, leaving us with a manageable docket for the podcast this week. We start with the comedies, including the pilot for Comedy Central’sBroad City, then talk a little reality along with the genre fare, and finish up our week in television with the dramas. Afterward, we welcome back Les Chappell from the AV Club and This Was Television to help us discuss the surprisingly overlooked classic sitcomTaxi.
Comedies (11:30-26:57): Broad City pilot, The Mindy Project, Parks and Recreation, Enlisted, Looking, Girls
Reality/Genre (27:45-36:54): Top Chef, Supernatural, Grimm, AHS Coven
Drama (37:51-50:59): Sherlock,Justified, Parenthood, True Detective
DVD Shelf (52:16-end): Taxi with Les Chappell
“Go to Hell,” the penultimate episode of Coven, ramps up the action, piles on the blood, closes off a few story-lines, and says goodbye to a few characters in a manner that suits their perverse obsessions. With the end of Fiona’s reign approaching, the girls manifest powerful new gifts, and Cordelia’s latest vision puts the Coven’s future in question. The only mystery left to be unraveled is the identity of the new Supreme, and while each young witch shows signs of being the next leader of the coven, we’ll have to wait seven more days to find out just who it is. Despite a few odd twists and turns here and there, “Go To Hell” benefits from having a clear destination for its characters. “Go To Hell” is all about generational shifts, and anyone over the age of 50 is shit out of luck. This is one of the most disciplined episodes of American Horror Story: Coven, doing an excellent job of setting up the season finale.
American Horror Story: Coven makes a solid return for the second half of their season, featuring not one, but two guest stars. After nine instalments of Stevie Nicks tunes, we’re finally treated to the Queen of rock herself, brought in by Fiona as a peace offering to Misty, who may, or may not be the next Supreme. Most of Nicks’ screen-time was dedicated to her unplugged performances at the Academy’s piano. First we’re treated to the singer/songwriter’s “Rhiannon,” (making a second appearance this season), and later she performs “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You,” a song which was written as a tribute to Joe Walsh of the Eagles. What does this have to do with the plot of Coven? Absolutely nothing; but it’s pretty hard to resists a cameo by Stevie Nicks, even if her vocal chords took a turn for the worst after battling a cocaine addiction, which created a hole in her nasal passage.