10 votes

‘Westworld’ canceled at HBO after four seasons

25 comments

  1. [5]
    rkcr
    Link
    On the one hand I'm bummed they didn't get to finish out the show, but on the other hand it really was just a shadow of its season 1 glory at this point. I can't be too sad about this one.

    On the one hand I'm bummed they didn't get to finish out the show, but on the other hand it really was just a shadow of its season 1 glory at this point. I can't be too sad about this one.

    9 votes
    1. [4]
      cfabbro
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      Ditto. S1 was quite possibly the best first season of any scifi show I have ever watched. And I actually really enjoyed S2 and S3 too, despite all the flak they got. But S4, which I just finished...

      Ditto. S1 was quite possibly the best first season of any scifi show I have ever watched. And I actually really enjoyed S2 and S3 too, despite all the flak they got. But S4, which I just finished watching a few days ago, was unfortunately without many redeeming qualities, and also incredibly unsatisfying, IMO. All the episodes spent with Christina/Dolores were especially bad, to the point that I genuinely almost stopped watching the season entirely because of how mind-numbingly dull I found them.

      5 votes
      1. [3]
        Loire
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I have to disagree. Season 4, with a few exceptions, was a stark improvement over the mess that was season 3. You are correct that the Christina parts were boring and I don't blame a anyone for...

        I have to disagree. Season 4, with a few exceptions, was a stark improvement over the mess that was season 3. You are correct that the Christina parts were boring and I don't blame a anyone for quitting based on those, however, the writing for Season 4 was leap years better than 3. The mid season "twist" was actually valuable and not shoehorned in like Season 2 and 3. Nobody had Mary-Sue status (Dolores Season 3). They didn't throw a "gimmick" episode in (Genre).

        The season had set the show up for an enthralling conclusion after it languished through 3.

        Edit: As much as I liked season 2, both season 2 and 3 had the plot spinning it's wheels. The writers knew where they wanted to start (Westworld) and where they wanted to go (Hale's world) but they had no idea how to get from point A to point B in a satisfying manner. Season 4 excelled over the previous two seasons because you could tell it was a key component in the narrative. They were back to producing the narrative they wanted to tell.

        5 votes
        1. [2]
          cfabbro
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          That's not exactly a shock to me. Most people seem to disagree with me about s3, and I'm fine with that. I still really enjoyed it regardless of being in the minority though. I enjoyed them...

          That's not exactly a shock to me. Most people seem to disagree with me about s3, and I'm fine with that. I still really enjoyed it regardless of being in the minority though. I enjoyed them exploring the idea of a predictive AI controlling human lives, host duplication and its consequences, and Serac as the main villain was great too. And frankly, I would much rather have a Mary Sue, power fantasy version of Dolores be the focus of a season rather than the pathetic, melancholic, lost puppy version that took up the majority of S4.

          2 votes
          1. Loire
            Link Parent
            I don't necessarily disagree with you on your main points. I think that, at its base level, the concepts behind season 3 could have been incredibly important to the overall theme of the show. The...

            I don't necessarily disagree with you on your main points. I think that, at its base level, the concepts behind season 3 could have been incredibly important to the overall theme of the show. The idea of the predictive AI putting humans in (more subtle than S4's version) loops has so much potential. I just feel the writing of the season didn't live up to that potential. Likewise the idea that it's the hosts putting humans into those loops is, for me, more powerful than a random AI completely unrelated to the first few seasons of Westworld. Its a stronger thematic call back to the first season than the Rehoboam version.

            3 votes
  2. [15]
    DanBC
    Link
    It's interesting to compare US tv to UK tv. In the US you create a world with interesting characters and then write stories within that, and hope you can keep it interesting enough over time to...

    It's interesting to compare US tv to UK tv.

    In the US you create a world with interesting characters and then write stories within that, and hope you can keep it interesting enough over time to keep getting renewed.

    In the UK you have a story that you want to tell, and that's your series, and then it ends, unless it's super popular and then they'll shoehorn a weird second season in. (ahem Broadchurch)

    There are obvious exceptions - the US does some great "miniseries" (like Dopesick is amazing, 5 days at memorial is pretty good), and the UK has had some weirdly long running sitcoms (Only Fools and Horses 20 years, Last of the Summer Wine 35 years, Mrs Brown's Boys only 12 years but feels like a god-awful eternity)

    I'm in the UK so that's what I'm used to and I think I prefer it. I feel like the US system can lead to lack of coherent characters, or weird conflicts between people driven by the need to create conflict rather than any intrinsic character or plot driven thing. It can also lead to stuff being kept on because it had a great first season, and maybe they'll get back there, let's give them one more try. I do think some of the US services should focus a bit more on the miniseries as a format. This may help with diversity of writing, directing, acting - diversity of stories.

    One of the problems of the UK is that there's a lot of formulaic content where there are fairly minor cosmetic changes. Here's a cantankerous detective, and he's a recovering alcoholic. He solves murders in a beach town. Here's a cantankerous detective, and he's lost his family. He solves murders in the English countryside. Here's a cantankerous detective, and she likes opera. She solves murders in the northern city. (But you can't tell which northern city because all the accents are a bit wonky). Or, it's a detective show with a quirky angle. Here's a British detective, but oh no! They're stuck on a Carribean island. Here's a British detective, but he's a stage-magician's assistant. Here's a British detective, but he's an antique dealer. ((Wait. I know I've just typed all this out and said "this is what happens in the UK" but I'm a bit dopey, aren't I? Exactly the same happens in the US too. Here's a detective but he's got OCD; here's a detective but he's good with numbers, here's a detective who knows bones; here's a detective but he's in a wheelchair; here's a detective and he's bald; etc etc. I'll leave it in because for some reason I still think it's a problem with the UK system even though I've just realised that it's also a problem with the US too.))

    8 votes
    1. [13]
      rkcr
      Link Parent
      Westworld had a 5-season arc planned from the beginning. Despite it seeming like they were making shit up as they went, they had an approximate plan.

      Westworld had a 5-season arc planned from the beginning. Despite it seeming like they were making shit up as they went, they had an approximate plan.

      10 votes
      1. NoblePath
        Link Parent
        Where was the arc meant to end?

        Where was the arc meant to end?

        1 vote
      2. [11]
        callmedante
        Link Parent
        Isn't that what they said about Lost? I love the show, but they clearly lost the plot for a while, perhaps never really fully recovering it before the end.

        Isn't that what they said about Lost? I love the show, but they clearly lost the plot for a while, perhaps never really fully recovering it before the end.

        1 vote
        1. [6]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          I think when these writers say "They have a plan" it's usually a beginning and an end. Maybe a few acts to flesh out the middle. Westworld didn't know how to get from Season 1 to Season 4, but...

          I think when these writers say "They have a plan" it's usually a beginning and an end. Maybe a few acts to flesh out the middle.

          Westworld didn't know how to get from Season 1 to Season 4, but those two individual season seemed to have a firm enough narrative bedrock.

          I find Lost harder to pinpoint where it loses itself then picks up again. I think, although hazy, the overarching themes from Seasons 1 and 2 where at the very least, present in Season 6 despite its baggage. I think the finale, along with the epilogue, more or less tied it back together. Did it lose the plot in season 3? Or season 4? Hard to say.

          The problem is these mystery box shows would be better served as mini-series, or limited series. The writers have a good idea but the realities of commercialized television stretch them too thin. Westworld was probably enough for 21-24 episodes TOTAL. But the first season was a money maker so now they have to keep it going as long as the ratings hold out. Lost had this even worse in the era of 22 episode seasons.

          6 votes
          1. [5]
            nothis
            Link Parent
            I'd eat a broom if JJ Abrams can show me proof they had any idea of how to end the goddamn show in season 1. I saw his "mystery box" TED talk. It helped me understand his schtick, how all his...

            I'd eat a broom if JJ Abrams can show me proof they had any idea of how to end the goddamn show in season 1. I saw his "mystery box" TED talk. It helped me understand his schtick, how all his shows and movies look great in trailers, pull you in in the first 20 minutes but then kinda fall apart and go nowhere. He doesn't care about the ending, about the conclusion, the part where everything is explained. That's boring to him. And it's a real problem for all the shows and movies he makes (and produces, it's actually a quality he looks for in anything he works on). It's really annoying and I won't miss the era of sci-fi pop culture dominated by his work. He's great at pulling people in but bad at making the journey worthwhile in the end.

            Btw, he's a producer on Westworld...

            4 votes
            1. [3]
              Loire
              Link Parent
              There isn't a show on Earth that runs more than 2 seasons where the writers have any idea where it's truly going. That's the "joy" of commercial television. How are you supposed to have a plan...

              There isn't a show on Earth that runs more than 2 seasons where the writers have any idea where it's truly going. That's the "joy" of commercial television. How are you supposed to have a plan when your show could be cancelled at any moment? Or alternatively extended well beyond what the concept can accomodate?

              This is why writers exist.

              4 votes
              1. nothis
                Link Parent
                That's a fair point for many shows, but I won't accept it for Lost. First, Lost clearly was a show about asking questions. Not philosophical questions (that was an excuse they shoe-horned in...

                That's a fair point for many shows, but I won't accept it for Lost.

                First, Lost clearly was a show about asking questions. Not philosophical questions (that was an excuse they shoe-horned in later). Questions like... what the hell is a polar bear doing on a tropical island? So, clearly, it was a show about waiting for answers (sometimes for 5+ seasons). And the answers were some deus-ex-machina trash.

                Secondly, Lost was huge. This is not some quirky, experimental niche project (like, say, Twin Peaks which probably suffers the same amount of plot holes but owns them with dignity). It can be held to a high standard in terms of storytelling and it's vanilla enough to require a consistent plot. The only shows that came close since were probably Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. I guess they had no idea of how exactly Breaking Bad would end when they started season 1 but they never teased more than half a season into the future and knew how to tie up every plot point. Same with Game of Thrones (at least until season 7). Same with a dozen other shows since. This is not some impossible task a showrunner can't prepare for.

                So yea, I feel for shows that are canceled after writers carefully prepare an epic conclusion for several seasons but Lost is not one of those shows. Lost wasn't cancelled. Lost maybe never thought it would see a season 2 but, tough luck, bluff called, JJ!

                1 vote
              2. Amarok
                Link Parent
                Hah. Babylon 5, Supernatural, and Breaking Bad are three counterexamples I can name that were plotted out five seasons with the last episode already sketched before being picked up, and I'm sure...

                There isn't a show on Earth that runs more than 2 seasons where the writers have any idea where it's truly going.

                Hah. Babylon 5, Supernatural, and Breaking Bad are three counterexamples I can name that were plotted out five seasons with the last episode already sketched before being picked up, and I'm sure there are more. Book adaptations are another obvious counterexample - if having the whole series written down and on the best seller list isn't advanced planning for cinema I don't know what is.

                If there are any lengthy multi-year arcs with a decent payoff, you can bet it was planned in advance every time, no exceptions, period. One doesn't just luck into that sort of storytelling by accident. JMS was I think the first one to take it as far as filming death scenes for every single character on their first day of shooting just to cover for the possibility of losing actors over the series run.

                There are also shows like House that famously had no planning whatsoever, made up on the fly, and they were great. That usually only works in episodic format, though. It's far harder to make arcs pay off without the planning, to say nothing of recycling the writing teams in between seasons.

                1 vote
            2. Amarok
              Link Parent
              Amen. The collapse of quality writing in Hollywood can be traced directly to Bad Robot's endless supply of hacks taking over after the writer's strikes. Never have so many actors and producers and...

              Amen. The collapse of quality writing in Hollywood can be traced directly to Bad Robot's endless supply of hacks taking over after the writer's strikes. Never have so many actors and producers and fx artists worked so hard for so long to say absolutely nothing to no one. At this point they've effectively torpedoed every long running franchise.

              That's the silver lining here - the financial bloodbath will eventually put these hacks in the dustbin where they belong. Hopefully they'll take the studios into bankruptcy in the process, it'll make some room for real artists to produce something worthwhile again. People of talent create their own properties, rather than mocking and destroying every cultural treasure they can get their hands on.

              The mystery box method is exactly backwards and I still think it is the dumbest writing method anyone has ever articulated. If you plan to write anything that will ever be remembered or lauded at all, you'd damn sure better know what's in the box. If you don't know what's in the box, you will never ever know what the box looks like, what kind of table it's sitting on, what the room around it looks like, where that room is, who the people coming and going in the room are, and what the wold outside the room is like.

              Instead, the moment the flash wears off it becomes an utterly disconnected mess that has no emotion, no substance, no payoff, and ultimately, no viewers readers or profit. It also has no rewatchability, so who would ever pay to keep access to it on a streaming service or buy the physical media? Don't even get me started on the merchandising. A writer doesn't need to tell people what's in the box, but if the writer doesn't know when he gets started, then people will never care.

              I admit I'm impressed by JJ in one respect, though. He should be lauded for pulling the finest multi-decade con on the Hollywood establishment that any con man ever pulled. He and his merry band of hacks took every single studio and streaming service for billions, left them with gutted properties, damaged brands, perverted franchises, and drastically worse future prospects. When studios start asking for bailouts, remember that. The centralized model of Hollywood is a dead man walking, let it go out of business. They won't be missed. There are tens of thousands of independent creators already here to replace them, and on their dullest day they are better than anyone who ever worked at Bad Robot.

              HBO appears to have learned this lesson. Canceling Westworld is a start, and imagine my surprise when House of the Dragon started getting good reviews from honest critics and hitting Game of Thrones numbers. Meanwhile Amazon gets to pay for a second season of Rings of Power that even they don't want to watch, just to avoid admitting it has become the largest dumpster fire and the largest waste of money in the history of cinema. Even Bezos was dumb enough to take a fall for the con artists.

              1 vote
        2. [4]
          nothis
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          Don't get me started on Lost. They clearly (I believe I saw some interview where they basically admitted it) had no fucking idea what all their fucking mystery shit was leading up to and you could...

          Don't get me started on Lost. They clearly (I believe I saw some interview where they basically admitted it) had no fucking idea what all their fucking mystery shit was leading up to and you could feel that starting in season 2. Biggest tv disappointment of my life. Since Lost, if I notice the slightest bit of vague, confused, making-it-up-as-it-goes storytelling in a show I drop it immediately. Saved me from sitting through some awful stuff.

          Honestly, I haven't touched season 4 of Westworld for this very reason. They packaged it in an emperor's-new-clothes-style coat of convoluted story elements that act like they're all following some bigger plan but I actually believe they were mostly just winging it since season 2.

          5 votes
          1. [3]
            Amarok
            Link Parent
            The way I heard the story told, Jeff Lieber created the pilot for Lost (for my money, one of the finest ever) along with a lot of material for the first two seasons. He was taken off the project...

            The way I heard the story told, Jeff Lieber created the pilot for Lost (for my money, one of the finest ever) along with a lot of material for the first two seasons. He was taken off the project before the pilot even hit the airwaves because the studio didn't like his direction or the amount of money he was spending on it. Jeff is the one who imagined Lost - it is all on him and his writing staff at that time. The studio handed it over to Abrams and Lindelof afterwards.

            JJ Abrams hasn't got enough imagination to create anything. If there was ever any kind of real story or satisfying conclusion to the Lost saga, it was in Jeff's head, not JJ's. All Abrams did is come in at the last minute, take credit for everything, and guarantee that nothing like a satisfying payoff could ever happen in the show. That's how Abrams works on every project he has ever helmed.

            If you think Lost going off the rails made you jaded, I'll warn you that it gets worse. I won't even watch a first season anymore. If the show is still getting good reviews in season three, I'll think about it. I haven't set foot in a movie theater since Dark Tower (free passes, glad I didn't pay) and before that it was the back to back special editions of Lord of the Rings in the mid 2000s. The last film I saw in the theater that genuinely blew my mind was The Matrix in what, '99? I used to see 4-8 films in the theater every month in the 80s and 90s, some of them 10+ times. Now I can't find 10 films in a year I'd even bother to recommend. Cinema is dead, man. It's not even a shadow of a shadow of what it was.

            I guess I'll just have to stick to video games, books, and music for my entertainment. I'd probably still come out sight-unseen for a Tarantino movie, though. He's never disappointed me before and I have just enough trust left for that.

            1 vote
            1. [2]
              nothis
              Link Parent
              Ok, you won that contest, lol. Honestly, though: I believe tv (or technically streaming, nowadays) is some of the best entertainment in generations. I look at 70s/80s/90s movie releases in envy...

              Ok, you won that contest, lol.

              Honestly, though: I believe tv (or technically streaming, nowadays) is some of the best entertainment in generations. I look at 70s/80s/90s movie releases in envy (some of those before I was born) but I actually do think that tv is better than ever. I don't want to start listing specific shows but there's a density of great stuff, a variety that feels like a golden age for, let's say, "episodic storytelling". Lost got me pretty mad and a lot of shows before it bored me to tears but IMO we've overcome that and are in a pretty great position. Maybe peaking a few years ago but still quite amazing.

              1 vote
              1. Amarok
                Link Parent
                If episodic is your jam, I can see why you'd call it a golden age. For me the best of those peak at a 3-4 star rating. I want the ten year arc on a show I can binge rewatch five times and still...

                If episodic is your jam, I can see why you'd call it a golden age. For me the best of those peak at a 3-4 star rating. I want the ten year arc on a show I can binge rewatch five times and still find things I missed. That's the five star peak of the storytelling mountain in my book.

                1 vote
    2. nothis
      Link Parent
      Weirdly enough, for a lot of (US) shows, it's the second/third season that I really get into a show. Sometimes the whole world building thing you're describing (pretty on point!) does work really...

      Weirdly enough, for a lot of (US) shows, it's the second/third season that I really get into a show. Sometimes the whole world building thing you're describing (pretty on point!) does work really well. All the characters grow into their roles, the audience understands their quirks without the show having to spend time on introductory episodes anymore and you just get wonderful character-driven content that wouldn't work in a 6-episode series. Community, Game of Thrones, Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, Atlanta,... for a lot of those, I agree, the final season is questionable (but sometimes it's actually a highlight!) but you tend to get the best of the world in the middle, often 20+ episodes in where most UK shows would have long stopped. I don't think Westworld is an example of that. But I don't dislike the US approach.

      4 votes
  3. [2]
    smoontjes
    Link
    Loved this show throughout its run. Always a little tiring that, whenever it was mentioned, the discourse was that season 1 is amazing and the rest is bad, but whatever. I am just so sad that it...

    Loved this show throughout its run. Always a little tiring that, whenever it was mentioned, the discourse was that season 1 is amazing and the rest is bad, but whatever. I am just so sad that it is now cancelled, it's one of my favourite series ever.

    7 votes
    1. onyxleopard
      Link Parent
      Same boat for me. I didn’t care for Aaron Paul, but the rest of the cast was a delight to watch and I looked forward to each season. I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed character arcs play out on screen as...

      Same boat for me. I didn’t care for Aaron Paul, but the rest of the cast was a delight to watch and I looked forward to each season. I’m not sure I’ve enjoyed character arcs play out on screen as much as William’s and Maeve’s.

      I remember hearing that the show runners had planned 5 seasons. It is very disappointing that serialized content like this can be ended prematurely for reasons that may never be rationalized to the audience.

      3 votes
  4. Arshan
    Link
    Yeah that seems fair, as much as I hate to say it. I absolutely loved s1 and s2. I enjoyed s3, even with some of its flaws. But I couldn't even finish s4, I just didn't care about any of the...

    Yeah that seems fair, as much as I hate to say it. I absolutely loved s1 and s2. I enjoyed s3, even with some of its flaws. But I couldn't even finish s4, I just didn't care about any of the characters. I hope HBO finds a new sci-fi project to scratch that etch for me.

    4 votes
  5. ras
    Link
    I tried watching Westworld many times but it just never clicked for me. I probably should've given Season One more time, but I have a hard time when I don't enjoy the first couple of episodes.

    I tried watching Westworld many times but it just never clicked for me. I probably should've given Season One more time, but I have a hard time when I don't enjoy the first couple of episodes.

    1 vote