Pioneer One: Review

When watching american TV shows you often find the same formulas and patterns repeated ad nauseum. For example:

  • If we don't swear we can make it PG and win more viewers.
  • Don't rock the boat with radical ideas.
  • Make everything artifical. Think of the offices and computers in CSI*
  • Create flawless characters that are heroes. Their only shortfalls are their complete awesomeness. They never make mistakes.
  • Water down emotions. Even though modern shows have relatively good acting characters display singular emotional paths and ignore the complexities of human emotions. Maybe this is to avoid confusing the audience?
  • Make the smartest things easy to understand. This is when a character constructs a perfect winning plan and it works flawlessly with minor clever tricks and no contingency plans.
  • Create flat characters who have a mission and usually succeed straight out or fail
  • Create characters that change so often that it is hard to figure out who they are. They are so mixed in with good and bad that ultimately you can't tell anymore. See Heroes
Some shows have beaten many of these problems. I would have to say Battlestar Galactica(The reboot) has interesting characters that keep their personalities but still sway in decisions based on dramatic irony.

Pioneer one makesa few break throughs. The sets seem kind of boring in the sense of that's pretty much what an office looks like with pens lying around and thats a kitchen with dirty washing etc... It feels much like a reality show because of the (arguably) shoddy camera work and the way that people are not constantly throwing one liners and opening little cute envelopes of wisdom. The characters depth are reached not through their dialogue as much as through their obvious emotions. Things seem quite believable and there is no huge show of outburst emotion or some grand effect to keep people watching.

I think pioneer one is just that. A pioneering vision of what kind of programming we want to see in the future. Something between the ungaurded emotions and useless banter we see in reality shows and a good story. I feel that in a sense Battlestar Galactica also hit a home run with many of these techniques. I hope that Pioneer one will also be a show where we can relate to characters that are real and have no ultrahuman traits that we are used to seeing in television in general.

I hope that the show can keep on it's current course with a story that contains ample variety but not too much. Heroes completely botched up their story by introducing multiple time travel plots, more and more characters with sometimes silly and confusing powers and failures to give any character a depth of integrity that can be relied on.

The story line seems to be quite believable but still fictional. There is a stretch of the imagination but not something ridicoulous where you find your self thinking "oh fuck no, come on!". The acting was much better than I had expected it to be. Some characters were slightly slippy but then again some people are slightly slippy. You could very easily believe that someone could be exactly the way that they are protrayed, and the actors don't seem uncomfortable with their characters.

I believe that some parts could have been done better but I also think that any intelligent viewer of any program could find things they would like to improve on. I think people feel especially entitled to give an opinion since they know that the show was made with a small budget on creative commons.

The biggest lack I see is that there are slight veerings off of the story line which might leave some less attentive viewers bored. Driving a story line too hard can make the difference between a compelling story and a boring one. Getting the pace just right is difficult and many high budget shows even miss this mark, sometimes intentionally to get viewers to want to watch again.

I have a lot of hope for this series. I think it keeps artistic integrity without being obscure and it has a very sincere feel to it, something that is often lacking from the TV shows we are used to.

One thing I would also like to emphasize is that I would like to see the next episode. There was not one part where I felt that feeling of strange embarresment you feel when seeing bad acting or ridicoulous entertainment. It feels interesting and real and worth while to follow. I would rather just say that than go on about the music, the camera work, the outifts of actors, dialogue etc... because in the end the sum of the parts should form a coherence that makes the whole feel whole, leaving you to not think too deeply about minor details.

Here's a link to the show's official site:

*I abhore CSI because I am a fan of forensics documentaries. You don't often see people coming to the right answers immediately and the resources they have are limited. Cases sometimes take years to solve because technology still has to catch up. Currently criminal identification systems can take from hours to days to figure out if a finger print is linked to a specific criminal. More often than not it is more than one piece of evidince that links the criminal to the crime and the work is tedious and not so flashy as our CSI crime fighters make it look.