stro wrote:I'm not sure they accomplished their goal of being revolutionary TV again, only because so many prestige shows over the past 10-15 years were already heavily influenced by TP and the mystery box aspect with maybe different timelines, maybe different universes, flash backs you don't know if they are or aren't flashbacks has been a regular occurrence for quite a while now. It's almost a cyclical thing of TP influences a generation which then influences the next generation of TP.
Well, I'd say the one thing that is undeniable about The Return is that it is revolutionary. Nearly all critical discourse about it discussed how much it differed from other programs, and it was called the most groundbreaking season of TV ever by several publications. I think its easily as revolutionary as the original series, for the way it tears down the last 25 years of TV and stands well apart from the pack.
I think its mystery box element pushes what you just spoke of to the extreme, going far beyond what other shows have done, not even revealing what its really about until very late in the game, and even then never really did. But even if you discard that element, the season looked, felt and especially sounded like nothing else in Prestige TV, subverted expectations to a degree hitherto never even considered, and defied every established narrative convention, destabilizing the viewer over and over again. The mixture of loose narrative - making room for full live performances and random comedic asides - and tightly structured plot is unprecedented, as are the narrative threads that are introduced never to be returned to in order to give the illusion of life happening outside the frame, as is the way it breaks the fourth wall and demands and predicts audience participation, as is its focus outside the titular town. Its use of duration was unheard of in bringing slow cinema to TV, and the way it approached the elderly, sick and dying felt truly unprecedented. Even its use of credits to conceal and reveal information was unique. And there's a lot more.
But especially when you take into account how it defied the trends of reboot culture and how it interrogated nostalgia rather than offering it as comfort food, it becomes readily apparent how revolutionary it was in its approach to a comeback. Not to mention the way it approached older beloved characters, not forcing them into the central plot, instead simply eavesdropping into the current state of their lives as though bumping into them 25 years later. And above all, it was the most avant-garde season of dramatic TV ever seen in America. Part 8 alone qualifies it as revolutionary, and there are plenty of other purely experimental passages of all different sorts, including its use of special effects that emphasize their unreality. And its revolutionary mostly because it's largely a non-narrative affair, focused mostly on mood and themes rather than plot, which is the opposite of basically ever TV show ever, which is precisely how it breaks the mold of every mystery box show in existence.