Over the last few years, with the exception of the big-3 networks, the traditional episodic drama, with each weekly installment featuring a closed story with a beginning, middle and end, has fallen tragically out of fashion.
I say “tragically,” because virtually all of the very best shows I grew up with were episodics—THE FUGITIVE, STAR TREK and MAGNUM P.I. to name just a few—and I can’t help but miss the format. It offered decided advantages to the viewing experience—the flexibility to be watched “out of sequence,” characters with consistent roles and functions within the stories, reliable stylistic and narrative elements.
One might argue it was precisely these aspects that led to the format’s demise.
To me, this is like blaming the bottle for the wine. The problem was not the format, but the corporate-cookie-cutter content—formulaic, predictable pabulum served up with all the verve of a soggy fast-food burger.
Thus the bum-rap.
Because from a pure entertainment perspective, the best shows presented within the episodic format could easily go toe-to-toe with their serial counterparts. Show me a GAME OF THRONES, and I’ll see it with a COLUMBO and raise you two episodes of KOJAK.
CRUZ is my version of an episodic drama. It is not only my love note to the swaggering TV private investigators I grew up with, but an ode to car-culture and the city that spawned it, my home town of Los Angeles.
Most of what people think of as “quintessential” L.A. is contained within a few neighborhoods, one zip-code and a mile or so of beachfront. In CRUZ, I wanted to present my L.A., from the sausage stench of meatpacking Vernon to the discreet mansions of San Marino, Highland Park and Flintridge, to the stately, haunted and eccentric enclaves of Pasadena, to the strip-malls, mom-and-pop bodegas, massage parlors, auto-shops and wide billboard-cluttered boulevards of the sweltering ass-crack we call The Valley.
“Here’s lookin at you, baby.”