Monday, 29 August 2011

Talking Point: how important is pace to you?

Monday, 29 August 2011

It's dawned on me that I've been mentioning pace with increasingly regularity this year, and have also read tweets grumbling about pacing on Twitter, too. Many TV shows seem to frustrate people simply because they're slow-moving, while others find they especially enjoy shows that "take their time" to tell their story...

I barely made it to the end of The Shadow Line's first episode because it felt so sluggish, yet savour every second of Mad Men (which many people hold up as an example of very slothful TV drama). What do you think? Are some shows genuinely too slow, or are some viewers just too impatient? Can you handle a leisurely pace if the characters, dialogue and story appeals? Is pace therefore not really an issue, it's just that unhurried shows with other problems tend to get ditched much quicker? The Hour's not much pacier than The Shadow Line, but I've stuck with that show—possibly because I responded more to the characters and premise.

The opposite problem is with shows that move too fast. The return of Doctor Who burned through its mid-season premiere with a great deal of speed, but some fans were left dizzy and confused as a result. Are you one of them? Is the solution for writers to ensure scripts keep the pacing brisk but digestible—or is it perfectly acceptable for a show to tell its story in a particularly speedy or slow way, if that's what's intended?

What do you think? Have you ever stopped watching a show you suspect you'd enjoy because the pacing didn't work for you? Or do such shows just require some commitment and patience? Game Of Thrones was widely criticized for being very slow to begin with, but the season's latter half felt much faster and engaging... yet the pacing hadn't really changed. It's just that viewers got used to the show's tempo and by episode 7 had accrued enough information to find even its slow scenes fascinating and revealing in themselves.

I'm keen to hear your thoughts on the issue of pacing. Do you have any good examples of times when pacing affected your loyalty to a show, for good or bad?

Over to you!