We were done with Game of Thrones (until next year), and as The Wire rivals Law & Order in episodic count, my wife and I started The Night Of as our reward for making it thorough another day without killing anyone whom we also claim as a dependent on our taxes.
We were amazed. But this is not a missive about the next show you should watch. Rather, it's about what can happen when a quasi-mediocre, done-before idea is executed perfectly.
I don’t know that I have ever seen all the mundane categories from the Oscars brought to bear so seamlessly in one place as in this show's first episode. The directing, the acting, the writing, the lighting, the framing of each shot: they each added a layer of drama and built up secondary and tertiary story lines that, executed less brilliantly, could have been a ho-hum flop. (Think season two of True Detective.) You watch and find yourself already pushing forward with the investigation, the legal defense and the alternative killer theories long before the premiere is over.
It was the second time this week that an affinity didn’t require acquirement. I think half the things we like, we like eventually, but aren’t necessarily captivated from the start. The first time was a song — The Meaninglessness of Numbers — featured in none other than a spot for Ashley Madison of all f%^&ing things. But commercialization and philandering aside, it is a piece that you will probably like immediately or not. Either way, it is hardly a taste that requires acquiring..
The parallel is this: We need great ideas. And we need to execute them as well as we possibly can. But the thought that only execution has the opportunity to decrease the value of an idea is dead-ass wrong. An expected idea executed unexpectedly has far greater effect than an unexpectedly brilliant idea executed poorly.
The other series we tried to start this week, Orphan Black, falls into the later category. And the difference is palpable.
Moral: The responsibility for great work does not rest exclusively in one department of an agency any more than actors are exclusively responsible for great cinema. We all need to push as much as we all need pushing. If ambition evades us, so will success.