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Old December 15th, 2011, 07:54 AM   #1
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Actual length vs "how long it feels."

So here's something I've been thinking about in the past year or so.

I guess this really applies more to TV, and comedies, than movies or other genres.

So there are certain shows out there that, in my opinion feel longer than they are, even though they're pretty funny moment by moment.

For me, the ones that come to mind at the moment are:

30 Rock

Reno 911

Psych

Now, what makes these interesting cases (to me) is that while they have mile-a-minute jokes (and I do believe they're funny, mostly ) coming at you, somhow (again, to me) they feel much longer than their respective lengths. As in "holy crap, this show's only half over?" kinda long.

As much as I can nail down, I think it comes down to the mix of character/personality vs storytelling/plot/"what's gonna happen next?" in each show, and which dominates.

All these shows are heavy on character/personality, not so much on the "Lost" factor of "what's going to happen next?"

I guess what I mean is that you almost don't care "whodunnit" (in the case of Psych, very much like Monk and unlike it at the same time, in that Psych is mostly about goofiness with a mystery theme tacked on, and Monk seems to be about the mechanics of the mystery with the humorous character as its center), or in the case of 30 Rock or Reno, what ends up happening at the end of each episode.

Anyone get what I mean? Agree? Disagree? Insights?
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Old December 15th, 2011, 12:28 PM   #2
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Re: Actual length vs "how long it feels."

Yes I agree, for me a good plot seems to shorten time, and a lot of focus on characters/personalities tends to make it seem longer. The best being a nice blend of both, character to fill in the details but also plot to move the story forward.

My theory is that many of newer comedy shows tend to have people coming from long form improv backgrounds (second city, upright citizen's brigade etc.). The thing with long from improv is that story/plot just kinda happens, and the improv players tend to focus on filling in and playing their characters to the hilt. So you get shows like you mentioned where the plot/story almost seems to just kinda happen, and there is more of a focus on character/personality.

I see this with a lot of movies that come from improv people (adam sandler), the story just seems to meander/happen like in Harold (long form improv theatre form). But they spend a lot of time developing the characters/personalities, not necessarily well, but they do it anyway.

In contrast, when someone comes from a more formal writer's background, I think there tends to be more of a focus on the plot/story, but sometimes the character/personalities can be a little weak, so you get crazy plot, but many times it can be difficult to get emotionally involved with the characters, because they are not so endearing.

Anyway, movie making theories ... a dime a dozen, and that's my 2 cents.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 01:31 PM   #3
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Re: Actual length vs "how long it feels."

That all sounds good. Now that I think more about it, the rules don't seem consistent, though.

Here are a few dumb comedies in the last couple years I liked

-Pineapple Express

-I love you Man

-Horrible Bosses

-step brothers.


I found all of these funny and reasonbly paced, though none had what I would call engaging/edge of your seat plots. Much more about the journey than the destination, but to me (I realize some of you may have hated all of these movies), they didn't suffer from this "30 Rock Syndrome" as I shall now call it. Granted, these are feature films vs TV shows. Maybe there's something to that.
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Old December 15th, 2011, 04:25 PM   #4
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Re: Actual length vs "how long it feels."

Multiple sub-plots and turning points probably help things seem longer. For sub-plots they may only advance it every 5-10 minutes and turning points (say a suspect dead-end in Psych) can make it seem like it's a long way back to the suspects trail. Just a thought. Cheers
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 07:43 PM   #5
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Re: Actual length vs "how long it feels."

I would add Family Guy to that list.
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Old December 23rd, 2011, 12:04 AM   #6
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Re: Actual length vs "how long it feels."

Sorry bud. I live me some family guy. Granted, it's totally uneven in that one episode may be great, the next crap, or even half and half in the same ep, but I generally like it.
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