Today, I explain how the recent hit Peacock series, Poker Face, spotlights the “problem” of the release schedule of The Fall of the House of Usher.
Knowledge Waits is a feature where I just share some bit of pop culture history that interests me that doesn’t quite fit into the other features.
Generally speaking, I’m just against binge releasing period. There are just way too many TV series that I think were hurt, buzz-wise, by being released all at once. Even the ones that became culturally significant, I think they would have been MORE cultural significant had they been released week to week. For instance, look at the reaction to The White Lotus. Good show, to be sure, but by coming out once a week, the mystery was made SUCH a big deal. If it was a binge release, none of that would be present. Meanwhile, imagine if a show like The Bear was released once a week. The Christmas episode would have been all anyone would talk about for a week. Instead, it was just sort of lost in the general discussion of the show, and that’s The Bear, which DID have a big cultural impact. Heck, we’ve even seen the binge release model sort of tacitly acknowledge this, with stuff like Netflix holding back the last two episodes of Stranger Things Season 4.
In any event, as I say that, there are obviously some shows that work better for binging than others, and I think we’re seeing that Mike Flanagan’s latest project, The Fall of the House of Usher, is one where it DOESN’T work that well (and I think his previous series, The Midnight Club, had a similar problem).
In a lot of ways, The Fall of the House of Usher reminds me of the recent Peacock hit series, Poker Face. Both shows have great actors and sharp writing, but they also are, when you boil down to it, rote stories. In every episode of Poker Face, there is a crime committed and Charlie (Natasha Lyonne) figures something is up due to her “superpower” of being able to tell whenever someone is lying. She then works against the killer, and the killer is brought to some sort of justice by the end of the episode. In every episode of The Fall of the House of Usher (after the set-up of the first episode), one of Roderick Usher’s children (played by great actors who had each appeared in previous Flanagan series) is killed in a gruesome fashion inspired by a Edgar Allan Poe story (The Midnight Club was about a group of dying teenagers who entertain themselves by telling each stories at midnight, the series was based on a Christopher Pike novel of the same name, and the stories they tell are all adaptations of other Pike stories).
Those are all fine concepts, but the problem is that when you watch them in a row, it gets serrrrrrrrrrriously repetitive. So don’t get me wrong, Flanagan is a talented enough writer that the episodes are still good, but it just loses a lot of its luster when you binge it. I imagine the same was almost certainly true for Poker Face had it not been released on a weekly schedule (The Midnight Club had a similar issue as The Fall of the House of Usher, as at least the stories all had different endings, while we know that each of the Usher stories will end with one of the children killed).
Long story short, unless you’re telling one big story, like The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor or Midnight Mass, it is not a good idea to release these stories in the binge format.
If anyone has any pop culture bit that you’d like me to discuss, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org