Thursday, 25 February 2016

Wayward Pines: the TV show

My off hand notes on Wayward Pines the book trilogy caused a spike in my page views the like of which I never expect to see again. That was all down to the TV show, which I've only now got round to watching.

Watch the TV show or read the books, but don't do both, I think. I think if you were coming to the TV show completely fresh, not knowing what was going on, it would have been gripping, baffling stuff. If you watch it having read the books, you know what's going on, and you're free to think "That's not what Sheriff Pope ought to look like." or "Melissa Leo doesn't look young or crazy enough to be Nurse Pam." And so on. Matt Dillon, by the way, looks absolutely fine for Ethan Burke. Just the right amount of manly jawline.

There's a lot of detailed changes from the book, including some major swerves in the last episode. The neat three act structure of the books has been dropped, and the world of trouble from the third book has been simplified and telescoped. Probably worked better as narrative on the screen, but it will have bugged anyone who read the books first. I know I said that if you've read the book the suspense goes out the window, but weirdly, you can still get cranky because the story isn't just what you were expecting. What you read first becomes reasonable and logical and what you see later is weird and wrong, even if it's perfectly fine on its own merits.

It's TV, so the Abbies are just wrong, by which I mean they're not wrong enough. They just look like a bunch of summer stock Nosferatus, because that's the limitation of what you can do with people in makeup, where a writer can make much more unsettling changes.

In the end, though, my big thought about the whole thing was the difference between how you read and how you watch. I watched Wayward Pines the TV show in a state of half distraction, an episode or half an episode at a time, watching the time before I had to get to work, and checking my email as it unfolded. I wasn't really present in the show, and it wasnt't just because I knew what was going to happen and so didn't feel I had to concentrate.It was TV, and so it was kind of background. When I was reading the books, I had to concentrate; if I didn't read them, nothing was going to happen. If I didn't concentrate on the TV show, the TV was still going to play it back.

The surprising thing is that there's going to be a second season. It might even work; they've found a good jump-off point for a continuing narrative. And since there aren't any books this time, if I do watch it, I'll have to take it on its own merits. And focus.

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