Robin Sloan wonders whether all-at-once seasons like House of Cards work against shows by denying viewers the joy of anticipation:
If Game of Thrones was delivered all at once, I’d scrub right past [the opening title] sequence, as beautiful as it is. But thanks to that wait, that week eternal between episodes, I watch the clockwork castles every time. I savor them. You can pick your metaphor: appetizer, foreplay, warm-up act. We like those things, all of them! They all enhance the main event, even as they delay it.
Delay, withhold, restrict, release: This is storytelling 101, Scheherazade stuff, and it’s deeper than marketing and distribution. We bring all of our creative talents to bear on matters of plot and character; the anticipation that precedes and interpenetrates a story deserves no less. More than ever, the shape of a season can be designed and managed. More than ever, anticipation can be art-directed.
When Craig and I discussed True Detective on the podcast, I argued that much of its popular success came from the build-up each week. Without it, the series might have become merely Really Good rather than Must See.