piranha: red origami crane (Default)
with comedy-dramas. and i am trying to poke around the definitional edges so as to better predict which shows i might like.

total failures in recent past:
chuck
eureka

successes:
dead like me
weeds

when i look in wikipedia, i can see that it's not clear to people what constitutes a comedy-drama. which makes sense because there are no fixed lines; the definition only asks that approximately equal elements of comedy and drama be present. it seems that the definition slips easily: in the cases of comedy in which characters actually have some true emotional resonance, and with dramas that contain some element of comic relief.

but if i count all of those then the term becomes nearly meaningless, because there are so many shows now in which both comedy and drama are present in some combination. to me a show that's primarily drama with some banter thrown in doesn't qualify as a comedy-drama. for example, bones: this is first and foremost a drama, and there is no comedy outside of banter. criminal minds has comic relief through flamboyant penelope garcia and her interactions with other team members, but it's dead serious the rest of the time. or dexter, which has comedic elements in dexter's own observations about people (including himself), though the show inches a bit closer to the invisible line i draw.

i am quite happy with dramas that have comedic elements in the form of banter and black humour between characters, probably because those are my own native modes of dealing with stress. i'm also fine with comedy in which the characters become something more than spear carriers for a joke -- i guess ugly betty would qualify, since i did come to care about some of the characters, and their lives seemed quite real -- but that's a special case, i think. i am also fine with pure comedy where i don't emotionally care about the characters because they're just delivery vehicles for the humour, like in better off ted.

what rubs me the wrong way is if the writers get the melange of comedy and drama wrong. for example:

body parts strewn about in dexter are never comedic; they're dead serious. even if dexter waxes rhapsodically about the artistic arrangement, the body parts are not funny; if anybody is laughing, it is shocked laughter at dexter's alien-ness in that moment.

body parts strewn about in a monty python sketch: funny ha-ha, not serious at all -- no problem with that.

body parts strewn about in eureka: say what? am i supposed to feel bad for larry who got used by nanoids as a "carbon source"? then a) humanize larry for me at the start, and b) don't show me the bloody leftovers with taggart and the sheriff being not phased one bit. and i don't mean they crack "EMT under stress" kind of jokes; they simply do not react like real people would react to finding bloody remains. i cannot take any of the characters in eureka seriously, and in consequence i don't actually care when something bad happens to them. it also doesn't help that the science is horrendously boondoggled, and there too the comedic and serious aspects are confused.

in chuck the timing is off so badly that i don't believe any of the serious action is actually serious. chuck is a likeable guy. i WANT to like him. but i can't really care about anything because he lives in this totally fake-appearing world with all those other unreal characters.

both eureka and chuck get this sort of thing wrong as a matter of course. they try to make me like a character and then fuck with the process at the wrong time. they throw in a bad joke when i am feeling emotionally vulnerable. they constantly yank me out of their own story.

on the other hand, dead like me and weeds succeed because they give me time to move from laughing at the ridiculous stuff to feeling a character's pain. their characters feel authentic, even when they engage in antics that no real person would engage in.

i think that's the central point for me.

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piranha: red origami crane (Default)
renaissance poisson

July 2015

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