Last night’s Ghost Whispererer conformed fairly closely to the formula I described yesterday, thankfully. If it hadn’t, I’d have looked like a proper Charlie.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been helping to tidy up some of the FT archives, and bringing some old FT essays into the current template. Exciting stuff, yes? I bring this up because one of the pieces I did yesterday was this classic piece of vintage Ewing, musing on fandom, pop, comics and continuity. And last night’s show was all about the backstory.
It involved JLH being re-haunted by her very own My First Ghost, and that meant her going back to confront some of her own past. Result: a big step forward in TGW backstory, explication of (and some unexpected answers to) a number of outstanding questions (when did JLH start with the seeing the dead? How did she handle it? What’s the deal with her Mum?). It seemed like a belated attempt to wrench a story arc out of the TGW formula, over and above the ongoing hints at some malign presence buzzing around.
It feels like a big change for a formula TV show, to move from more-or-less self-contained episodes within a stable situation framework to a show where the plot of each episode is (for fans) secondary to the progression of the longer-term story arc. Meaning that each individual episode is harder to miss.
I’ve no idea how popular TGW is, no idea whether this is a sign of confidence that the show is popular enough that it’s worth planning for the long term, secure in the belief that enough people are watching regularly to justify the insertion of backstory. Or maybe the show’s not doing so well and it’s been decided to try to grab viewers by soapifying. Or maybe they’ve realised that turning out such a formulaic show will eventually mean people getting bored. Possibly, none of the above.
But if Tom’s right and the most fun is to be had when talented people are required to indulge in hackery, this is most likely a worrying move in the other direction, a flexing of Authorial muscles, a move from the joys of the 7″ single to the rather different, often absent, certainly more indulgent, joys of the triple album.