It is accepted in television folklore that serialised television is much better than its procedural sister, or perhaps rival. Who ends up sitting on the Iron throne for the Game of Thrones fans out there is a much more important social question to be answered, and hopefully it is answered before George RR Martin pops his clogs, than answering the question of who killed a random often female character in a formulaic episode of CSI New York or should that be Vegas.
Now it is understandable that finding out who killed the Rosie Larson in the Killing over the course of two seasons was compelling, and the numerous hours I divulged over Netflix over a course of a weekend is testament to its amazingness and my lack of a social life, I want to argue that TV critics and indeed those ‘serious’ television fans should be paying more respect and homage to the often less respected viewed as lesser sister of serialised television that is procedural television.
Life is hard. Our brains are way too tasked as individuals often ploughing and processing through mundane soul killing information. We do after all live in an information age as the Sociologists would tell you that it is really nice to come home and not to think, turn the television set on as a distraction from a soulless world driven by greed. To spend 5 minutes or if you have the whole hour or even 42 minutes without the adverts to sit through and watch mind numbing pre-packaged soulless television full of answers that does not require creative mental energy requiring interpretations that serialised television often does. As I type this memories of criticisms of LOST come flooding through my brain.
Now I don’t deny that the random episode of CSI Miami is not mind numbing and to avert this piece becoming what appears to be an implicit agenda against the CSI franchise, I offer another example of the much used to be loved Big Bang Theory. What both of these two shows offer in spades that the glorified television event of recent years lacks, Game of Thrones, or should that now be True Detective starring Oscar winner Mathew McConaughey offer is laughter, humour, packaged answers in a short space of time and it doesn’t take it self so seriously.
In a world characterised by persistent global inequality and greed with TV stars quitting because they are just not being payed enough, NCIS star Cote de Pablo quitting the show because earning close to $4 million USD a season was just not enough my friends, it is essential to sometimes just sit back, relax and go with the mind numbing flow that television content often is. A convergence of procedural and serialised may be more appropriate for our times, and it is here I champion the much loved among its fans and underrated cult drama of our century that is Fringe. Produced by JJ Abram’s often maligned Bad Robot productions as the best example of such convergence. Mixing procedural elements such as ‘monsters of the week’ episodes with an overarching theme of time travel, super cool observers and some awesome science stuff. It was good stuff.
Procedural as better for our global age may be why in America procedural television always tend to rate better than its serialised sister. It makes sense. Who wants to sit through hyper intricate detailed programmes which requires thought and mental energy which individuals have to deal with at work when they can just sit back and not have to think. I know my answer, a convergence of the two. What say you?