Peak Television

The pilot episode isn’t called ‘Pilot’. It’s called something that sounds fancier than it is. Palimpsest, perhaps. Or Quotidian. Or Bellwether. A word wearing it’s best shoes, trying to look its best. And its not an episode. It’s a Chapter.
At some point, a character will define the title word. Most likely, this character is a middle-aged man, and he will explain it to a young woman. This conveys Serious Intentions.
As the credits roll, we get a series of images. An old medieval map, transitioning to a modern streetmap, or a satellite view. Sepia photos of rural landscapes giving way to technicolor urban crowds. At the end of the credits, the camera zooms down to earth, landing on the protagonist to begin the story.
During the credits, the music sounds vaguely folkish, with fiddles and banjo. Later, during a Serious Scene involving either extended silent thinking by the protagonist, or stubborn determination as he fights in slow motion, we get something classical. Probably Handel’s Sarabande.
Instead of the standard 45 minutes, the show runs short, or long, between 55 and 70 minutes. No two episodes – sorry, chapters – are the same length. One is a single uninterrupted 25 minute take.


By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.