Hemlock Grove Hems and Haws

Most shows don’t need 13-20+ episodes per season. Hell, many shows don’t need that many episodes total.

I’m a FIRM believer in 6-8 episode seasons.

Whether we want to admit or not, the people tuning into your show/movie aren’t trying to get into long novels. If they wanted that they would pick up the novels that the show is based on. Sure, there will be some crossover audience, but one set doesn’t want to sift through the stuff that works much better on paper than in video.

Part of the transfer from text to screen is ditching the extraneous descriptions to get to the meat and bones of the story. All the flowery prose describing the background needs to actually become the background, not really turned into janky dialogue that nobody wants to hear.

Blatant filler in a show works my nerves, and I’m a fairly patient individual. I watched almost all of Heroes and doing that was probably just me hating myself. Most of the public is not going to give you that much slack.

Hemlock Grove didn’t need to be 13 hours.

I really wanted to love Hemlock Grove. The werewolf transformation alone attracted me to the series and the actors lined up to star in it were a big fat Amber magnet. The combination of those things with gore-fiend Eli Roth working on it, should have at least had it somewhere in the range of awesomely bad if things took a turn for the worse.

Nope.

Half the damn show felt like filler. Probably more than that, but I would forget I was watching it and get up to do other stuff.  I went outside and did yardwork in the middle of episodes and missed nothing. Some of the later reveals which were ridiculously exposition heavy could have been peppered into the boring earlier episodes with little effort.  It could have managed to round out at a somewhat clunky 8 hours instead of a punishment 13.

It felt like there was a good 4 hours of Roman and Peter saying they needed to do something, then just sitting in the car for a while.  The camptastic dialogue that other actors got kept cycling the same conversations with different awkward wording. It’s ok to write some characters like that, but the whole town shouldn’t sound like they are the same weird person flopping out lopsided “cool guy” prose.

That sentence got away from me, but at least I’ll admit that it wasn’t pretty.

The best way to describe the accents would be to use one of those wave text tricks.

It seems that the show was littered with too many subplots for it to focus on any of them, so it doesn’t. The show doesn’t care that innocent-ish teenage girls are dead, so you don’t. The show also doesn’t want to flesh out any of the ideas in a reasonable timeframe, so you forget you are supposed to care about them. The boys don’t even bother to really try and solve the crime well. The villain just shows up and tells them EVERYTHING.

The actors who tried to take it serious did a pretty good job, and the ones riding the camp train hit all the right buttons in their own way. Just too bad the writers stretched the life out of it.

If the show didn’t have 13 whole hours to work with, some of these gaping  holes would be a little smaller and harder to fall in. Hemlock Grove is one of the big reasons that scaling back runs could improve quality. The novel wasn’t even long enough to merit such a hefty runtime. It could have just been a nice little 90 minute movie.

Seriously though, 6-8 episodes.