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Pacing: Another Pandemic Victim

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

The proliferation of storytelling product during the past two years has certainly been a boon to many artists in film and television, but somewhere along the line pacing of a story has taken a major hit. There have always been issues with docu-style fare that sees fit to provide an obvious, repetitive summary of what transpired just minutes before the commercial break. Then there are the classic debates of popular films such as whether the Hunger Games series should have been three instead of four films. Even a wonderfully plot-rich series such as "The Walking Dead" has its pacing disasters: remember the episode where the main action was Carol making soup?

Today, however, a time-consuming bloat has settled over so much creative product that one can imagine a studio zoom meeting where the first comment is "we have to stretch this to eight episodes, and I don't care how you do it."

Please don't mistake this rant as pointing at thoughtful, quiet, even inspiring moments as found in "The Power of the Dog" and "Nomadland." The slower pacing of "About Schmidt" was perfect for that story. However, too much fare sponsored primarily by new heavy-hitter production arms such as Netflix and Amazon seems to be following an edict that if we have three solid episodes, let's stretch it to four. How often have you felt an ever increasing drag toward inertia of series that started out so promising ("Westworld," "Squid Game")? Viewers can respond with an abrupt end to viewing, but are any of the producers listening? The bigger question is whether it matters since viewers are not responding with ticket purchases and subscriptions cover a wide range of moving images so fodder may be tolerated to a great extent. One can only hope that storytellers are not totally desensitized to the need to create and maintain pacing that matches the needs of the story and keeps the audience engaged.

One can hope.

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