• V.P Colombo

Are interactive series the future of television?

TV head shot by Victorio Marasignan (CC BY 2.0)

I don't know about you, but I often feel let down by the ending of some books, movies and even tv series. Numerous times I declined to watch again 21 Jump Street (the movie), because - spoiler coming - agents Tom Hanson and Doug Penhall die at the end (and I had a huge crush on Doug twenty-five/thirty years ago). So, whenever my daughter plays the movie, I ask her if they changed the end yet, if not I'm not watching.

It is also frustrating to read a four-hundred-page book and get an unfinished after taste: 'All this for that?'

I have heard about Choose Your Own Adventure books, but never had the opportunity to read one. As a writer myself, I am contemplating the idea of offering alternative ends for the novel I'm currently writing - mostly because I hesitate between two possible outcomes and both of them are great; but it's something which is logistically difficult to implement.

So I was extremely excited when Bandersnatch aired, I'm a big Black Mirror fan but also because of all the possibilities it offered me. I literally spent more than three hours that night exploring all the different versions of the stories I could. Not only I enjoyed the process but also admired the amount of work put in the narrative by the writers. Then I heard that there were even more options if only I had chosen a different element at the very beginning. I tried to go back but it wouldn't let me. I guess after few months now, my IPad won't remember I watched it and set me back, but I don't remember what I choose. The suspense is real, as soon as I'll have some time, I'll dedicate it to save the father.

It's where the new Netflix tv series You vs Wild falls short for me, there's a lack of plots, subplots, parallel plots, etc... It's more of a video game concept than an interactive story-telling, and after not even one episode I lost interest.

I do think though that interactive tv is the future, although expensive and longer to create than other content, but only if there's enough effort put in the construction of the narrative. Writing is the key for building enticing stories and characters, and how good is a story without a good plot and complex characters?

References: photo by Victorio Marasignan

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