When I was growing up one of the shows I liked to watch was Dark Shadows. I was too young to really understand it much beyond “oh neat, monsters,” but I would sit riveted. Years later it was syndicated and I was able to watch it again.
One of Dark Shadows’ intriguing qualities was how it handled casting new characters. Between time travel, parallel worlds and simply a character dying and a new one showing up later, many actors on the show played 4 or 5 different characters. The show often dealt with this by just ignoring it. It became the accepted norm.
And now the new show American Horror Story has decided to follow in its footsteps.
If you have not watched this show you really should.
The premise is that the Harmon family of Boston, Ben, Vivian, and their Daughter Violet, move to Las Angeles for a fresh start after Vivian has a stillbirth and Ben has an affair with a student of his. They move into a restored mansion that was an amazing bargain. Only it turns out that the house is cursed, anyone who dies on its property is trapped there as a ghost.
I am not going to spoil the rest. It is a well-crafted story, and discovering details as it moves along is one of its strengths.
While I was watching the early part of its first season I was wondering how they could sustain the story over multiple seasons. The pacing was great and they gave a lot of revelations but there was no way to avoid the problem Heroes had, a great first season and then a downhill slide.
And then they proved me wrong.
The season finale was in fact the end of the story. As it become clear near the end that they were going to wrap up the producers explained the plan. Each season would be a complete story with new characters. To provide continuity several cast members would stay with the show, but as different characters then before.
I personally think this is brilliant. It allows for a well-paced story with a climax, which is much more satisfying then stretching the story beyond the breaking point that shows like Smallville have.
It also allows for the freedom to sign up some really good actors as they are do not have to commit to anything beyond the one 13 episode season. I’m sure that’s how they got Dylan McDermott for the first season.
It was announced that Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, and Lily Rabe are returning next season and that they will move from the west coast to the east. If they can keep up the quality from the first season I am there.