"Drivel" would be the obvious header, although that doesn't match quite what I'm going at here

The real trick to fiction is rarely realism. Sometimes its verisimilitude, the feeling of being contextually real. Sometimes it’s giving the viewer enough to allow them to create a willing suspension of disbelief. You can create a series with a wonky concept, and if you let people know well enough that once they buy into that concept, they will be carried along on a ride. It’s like that first crest on a roller-coaster — get over it, and the ride will carry you the rest of the way.
When I first looked at Drive, I questioned whether the kinetic storytelling of a cross-country car race would carry people past the hump of a mysterious cross country car race with drivers involved against their will. Having now watched the first of two episodes which Fox aired last night, I gotta say that my reservations are still intact. Part of the problem is that it’s both a ridiculous situation and a mystery – the public response to Lost has seemingly waxed and waned based on how much we believe that there is a reasonable explanation at the end. By building around such a ridiculous situation, however, Drive keeps me from believing that there is a reasonable situation to be had… and by positing it as a mystery, the show tells us that we’re not allowed to put it behind us and just go for the ride. We’re going to be constantly reminded that this is a show about people racing across the country in four hour chunks, that there are people exercising great power to enable this awkward race, that they have reason to do heinous things to keep uninterested people involved, that there is mysterious information on a flash drive which might dictate the finishing line of the race (despite the fact that knowing that would seem to be of very little advantage). We cannot accept the concept and move on. And even if we were interested in the mystery, we’re faced with the practical dilemma that few of the recent Big Mystery series haev survived long enough to reveal the mystery, suggesting this will be another exercise in frustration. Everything about the plot of this show seem manipulated to involve us in the moment, logic be damned — but without logic, there is no moment.
I’ll probably watch the second episode, already cued up on the ReplayTV. But it will have to have some real surprises, not in terms of story twists but in terms of changing expectations, for me to commit to this show.
(And as a footnote for those who don’t memorize my every review: this is a Tim Minear series, and my track record on non-Whedon Minear shows is poor. I didn’t like Wonderfalls, didn’t like The Insider. If you liked those shows, then this should temper any expectations you have based on my review.)

Published in: on April 16, 2007 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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