Skilled fishermen — and I’m thinking of the likes of the Brown Bear, here — will tell you that getting a fish to bite at the hook and lure is only the first step in the battle between the angler and his watery quarry. Fish that just nibble at the bait don’t end up caught. If you don’t make sure the hook is firmly lodged in its mouth, the fish will wriggle away and live to taunt the fisherman another day.
So the key is to set the hook. The accomplished angler will inevitably have a subtle move, a flick of the wrist that ensures that the hook is set firm and deep in the fish’s mouth, and that elusive fish won’t be a challenge any more.
The same holds true for modern television producers hoping to attract viewers to their shows. There are so many options out there — on Netflix, HBO, Showtime, Amazon, the networks, and countless other outlets — that some people argue that right now, rather than the ’50s or ’70s, is the true Golden Age of Television. And because there’s a lot of content to watch, if you’re a couch fish looking for a new series to binge-watch on a cold winter weekend, you’ll nibble at an episode or maybe two, but you’re not going to spend too much time on shows that don’t immediately set that hook and leave you happily wriggling on the line, looking forward to the next episode.
Kish and I experienced this phenomenon this week. We watched the first episode of Russian Doll, which has been getting some buzz recently, and it just didn’t do much for us — it was just too flagrantly New Yorkish and a bit too consciously contrived for our tastes. We decided to try something else, and we’d heard good things about Ozark, so we gave that a try . . . and after one episode we were absolutely hooked.
The flick of the wrist that set the hook, firm and deep, probably came at about the time the quick-thinking Marty Byrde seized upon a Lake of the Ozarks pamphlet to talk his way out of disaster, or maybe when Wendy Byrde’s paramour met his maker. But whenever it happened, as soon as the first episode was over, we knew we’d be riding the Ozark train to the end of the line and our weekend and immediate TV viewing future was set. And the series has only gotten better as unforgettable characters like Ruth Langmore and the Snells have entered the fray.
I wonder how many TV producers fish in their spare time?