Monday, February 29, 2016

Here's What Happens When You Have Story Problems

I've written before about The Expanse, and now I've stopped watching. I didn't make it to the season finale.

Story problems kill shows, but they're subtle. If everything else is okay - the visuals, the science, and most especially the performances - then questions of theme and character, tiny fundamental miscues, take a while to sink the show. They're like cracks in the foundation: less then a millimeter wide, but more than enough.

And that's the problem here. Syfy got all the flashbang-geewhiz right (well, except for the Belter physique thing) but they messed with Corey's characters in small but important ways. In the books, these characters are no-nonsense professionals up against something that's utterly beyond their competence. On TV, they're too often pouting juveniles. And somehow the TV writers found ways to suck all the juice out of some of the most serious backstory (such as Amos' childhood) and turn it into flat talking-head exposition. When I heard that an upcoming episode was a flashback to the life of a character who dies in the first episode, I gave up.

I bear the series no ill-will. I'll probably give it another try. It didn't insult my intelligence (unlike some Syfy offerings). And I'm vividly aware that I am not a TV writer, so I don't know if I would do any better. But still, I had such high hopes.

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