Catching up on Supernatural made me realize that, when all is said and done, there is a particular flavor of story I love above all others — a flavor I haven’t been getting enough of lately.
To whit: the dramatic serialized arc.
Unpacking that . . . I want a dramatic story (as opposed to a comedic one, though using comedy as the jab to set up the impact of the subsequent dramatic cross is even better) — which for me, by the way, means really strong character development; I cannot live on plot alone. I also want the story to be told in installments, whether those are novels of a series or episodes of a TV show. And finally, I want the installments to form an over-arching narrative shape: I want there to be an endpoint the story is trending toward, that helps define that shape, rather than it being created wholly on the fly.
I realized this because of a discussion over on Fangs, Fur, and Fey, and as I said there, this form has a downside: it really has to stick the landing. If you give me an awesome series that whiffs in the final installment, it’s often worse than a standalone novel or film that whiffs the final chapter, if only because I’ve invested so much more time and energy into it. But that investment is also why serialized narratives can affect me so powerfully — and the closer you come to getting it right, the more I will thank you for having pulled my guts out and played cat’s-cradle with them.
(When I said I wanted drama? I meant it.)
This is why I love the Lymond Chronicles. It’s why I love Supernatural — they’ve done a better job of the multi-season metaplot thing than most comparable shows. It’s why I love the anime series X, cracktastic as it is. Some seasons of Buffy pulled it off; George R. R. Martin might do the same, thirty years from now when his series is finally done. But I haven’t tried any new TV lately that’s done it for me, and I’ve had so little time for fiction reading that I’m coming up short there, too. So I throw this open to the peanut gallery: what stories — in whatever medium — do you think would hit all three of those buttons? Dramatic, serialized, and closed-arc, delivering a satisfying macro-level experience as well as good moments along the way. What should I be reading/watching, in my oh-so-copious spare time?