I heard about the series “Painting with John” only recently and watched the first episode two nights ago. The John of the title is John Lurie, saxophonist of the band The Lounge Lizards, actor in several Jim Jarmusch movies – and probably more that I am not aware of – and now painter, writer, director, storyteller. The episodes are about twenty minutes long and consist of John Lurie working on a water color painting and telling stories. The pace is languid but here and there he throws a curve ball. The stories are great, especially as told in his gravely voice. This may be my favorite serial at the moment.
What I like about the new storytelling that has developed in the last decade out of TV and cable programming is that there is both a new very long format and a very short format. The best example of the new long format might be “Game of Thrones”, which is longer and larger in scope than any movie could be. It is not a serial in the sense of a TV show but rather it is experienced like an epic movie, a movie that would last three days and 16 minutes!
Then there is a new short format. I watched a series from India where each episode was around 10 to 15 minutes. Perhaps they were designed to be viewed during a commute, I wondered. But the episodes didn’t feel abbreviated, they felt complete in the way that short stories are as complete as a novel.
PS: I learned that there was a series called “Fishing with John” on TV in 1991.