So there’s this new TV series premiering that your closest circle of friends are all gung-ho about. Its getting a hell of a lot of oohs and aahs on Twitter. You decide to download the very first episode overnight and watch it together with the gang over the weekend.
The torrent has successfully downloaded. You open the video and press play. The opening credits are exciting; good soundtrack, you say to yourself. And then you struggle through a good 40 to 45 minutes trying to watch it. F.R.I.E.N.D.S rerun would’ve been more fun, you mumble to yourself.
The pilot episode of any new TV series can seriously make or break the rest of it. I’m taking three cases where the ‘meh’ factor almost made me sentence them to solitary confinement in a corner of my hard disk’s memory: Sherlock, True Detective & Da Vinci’s Demons. Three vastly different genres, yet all had bumpy starts.
Benedict Cumberbatch’s reboot of the London sleuth had an unaired pilot, a sort of a zeroth episode of ‘A Study in Pink’. The ‘mind palace’ was still in its infancy: juvenile, jumpy and almost laughable. Cameras focused on the iPhone screens directly when characters googled or texted, instead of the trademark ‘type-in-air’ projection effect. Editing is amateurish, little or no focus is given to details and the cinematography is not sleek.
Skip to second: enter Matthew McConnaughey and Woody Harrelson in bleak 90’s Louisiana as they set to find a serial killer. Could it be any slower? Or greyer? It reminded me of the forgettable 2012 Brad Pitt flick called ‘Killing Them Softly’. Characters just drawled on with uncomfortable, intermittent silences which are supposedly artistic.
Last one: Da Vinci’s demons, a reimagining of how Leonardo da Vinci lived and produced his works of genius during the Renaissance. Except that he sports spiked hair, gorgeous stubble, is a chick magnet, wears edge-of-fashion leather jackets and undertakes adventures more incredible than Asterix or Tintin.
If you stick to being so judgmental about these things, it’s guaranteed that you’ll never end up enjoying them. Give them a chance, watch them one after the other and you’re in for unheralded moments of TV awesomeness — lightning quick deductions made while giving the funniest of insults to the Scotland Yard,an uninterrupted six-minute shot with no edits of an elaborately constructed hostage scene or a plausible reconstruction of how machine guns and submarines worked in 16th century Florence. What if you also realised one of the show’s creators was the guy who wrote the trilogy of Chris Nolan’s Batman flicks? Therein lays the motivation.
Dig deeper, don’t be hasty and press the play button for Season 1: Episode 02. There’s always more in store.