Wednesday, June 09, 2021


NOTE - this blog is about the 1st episode only of MARE OF EASTTOWN and not the series as a whole.

While most were raving about how good the series was I couldn't dredge up even a tiny amount of enthusiasm to watch the second episode, let alone the entire series.

I disliked the opening episode, found it to be laborious to watch, the characters ordinary and unappealing and the plot directionless and dull. Where was the crime/mystery drama I was promised? Why did I have to wait until the end of the episode for things to finally begin to look interesting? But I persevered for the full sixty minutes, willing the episode to improve while my wife urged me to change the channel and save us both. I eventually lost her to her mobile about a third of the way through and despite my perseverance, I still felt the same as the episode came to an end. 

Look, I get it... I get that the show is an aching examination of loss. I get that it's written with the murder as a backdrop to the in-focus impact it has on Mare and her community. What I don't get is why I had to sit through 59 minutes of setup and backstory to reach the heart of the idea? I don't believe for one moment that I'm the only person on the planet who gave up on the series after the disappointing first episode. Comments like, "It's worth giving another go," "It's a slow burn" and "It did start a little slow," all tell me others DID feel the same but didn't want to be seen being negative about a show so critically well-received.

After reading articles on the show it's clear to me the creator wanted the theme of loss front and centre and the murder mystery playing quietly in the background. But for me, without the murder mystery in the first episode, you are left with nothing strong enough to compare the theme of loss to. Is the writing in the first episode new and innovative as some people claim..? Not in my opinion, because without the murder mystery running parallel to the theme from the outset, all you are really watching is setup and exposition, regardless of how well it's disguised with clever and often brilliant dialogue.

The show doesn't 'hit the ground running', rather it drags itself across the tarmac for fifty-nine minutes in a stumbling attempt to get to its feet. If a show doesn't capture my attention and make me care about the characters all within the first sixty minutes, then it's lost me.

In the light of others' glowing testimony there's a part of me tempted to go back and rewatch the first episode and continue with the series, but in all honesty, why should I? In the world of downloadable content and on-demand binge-watching, there are other shows more deserving of my time and attention, so why waste more of it when I wasn't enthralled the first time around? Entertain me, don't make me work for it!

I tried to do something similar with the pilot of a recent spec, taking my time to set up the rich universe I had created, where the main character only accepts the call to arms halfway through the episode. Quite rightly my agent informed me the first half of my screenplay was slow, dull and although it set up the world brilliantly, I could have done exactly the same job weaving bits of information in amongst the action.

That's why MARE OF EASTTOWN didn't ignite my imagination because while being massively unmoved by the whole first episode, I was also struggling to decide if the show was a thriller or a drama. A murder/mystery, the chase to catch a killer naturally lends itself to the thriller genre, so being forced to wade through sixty minutes of setup before the show got up off the floor and started to find its momentum, felt like a lifetime.

There will always be exceptions and for some of you MARE OF EASTTOWN is it. However, for me, it failed to entertain or capture my attention. But that's okay, we're allowed to have a difference of opinion, it would be a dull world if we all agreed on everything.

If you think I'm wrong, please... try and convince me otherwise, I would genuinely love to hear your thoughts.

Happy writing!


Willo said...

Interesting. I really liked it. The first episode got me invested in the characters (apart from Guy Pearce who doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose but a love interest – but hey, makes a change that the one-dimensional love interest is a man). Like Unbelievable, I knew there was going to be a crime before I started watching, and to me, episode one understood that and built up to this inevitability whilst introducing me to all the suspects along the way. I also feel that devoting all that time to the victim, she became more than just that; she became a person. I’m only three episodes in, but I can see why it’s making a splash.

Dominic Carver said...

Thanks, Willo! Really enjoyed reading your comment.