We’re running a tournament to find the show that’s doing fast-paced storytelling the best. But we also want your opinion, so make sure to vote below! And keep up with all rounds of the tournament with the Fast-Paced Tourney tag.
Vampires and shifters take control of this round where MTV’s Teen Wolf and The CW’s The Vampire Diaries go head-to-head. Both notorious for their breakneck pacing, these supernatural series at times offer much more than audiences ever bargained for. So, yes, they move faster than the speed of sound, converging stories and zooming along before you can even blink. But which show does it best?
It’s impossible to discuss the obvious here: Teen Wolf has produced much fewer episodes than The Vampire Diaries has thus far. And once Teen Wolf returns for the second half of this season, The Vampire Diaries‘ episode count will spring even higher. With such fast-paced storytelling, it’s almost a hazard to have to churn out so many installments in a year, lest you risk the chance of burnout. But alas, these arguments are on the merit of quality, not quantity.
The first season of The Vampire Diaries started out as slow as a teen horror could. But in a sense, it wasn’t truly must-see TV until a few episodes in when (SPOILER ALERT) Vicki bit the dust, just a few moments after being turned into a vampire, anyhow. That’s the definitive moment for me, and plenty of Vampire Diaries aficionados, that marked its territory in TV land. The showrunners knew it, too. Vicki’s death was a message to all watching, and those who would, that this wasn’t just a show about dangerous teen romances and gothic soap operas.
And that was true — for a time. Eventually Vampire Diaries lost itself in a triangle from which it could never be untangled. Plot lines were kept at a minimum to service the give-and-take between Elena and her two beaus. And soon, shocking twists had audiences groaning that they should have happened seasons prior. Elena becoming a vampire was met with a vocal minority claiming they were two years too late. Though I never ascribed to that particular camp, it was clear that fever-pitch twists had sizzled out in plenty of audience members’ eyes. The burden of being too fast-paced, perhaps?
Season four decided to go full-speed ahead, but eventually threw too many elements. Still, there were absolute standout episodes throughout that run: “Stand by Me” and “A View to Kill” come to mind. Then again, there were some that confused everyone’s motivations or lulled, like “Into the Wild.” But even throughout all four seasons, there really has not been a storyline that’s been repeated (not including the triangle), which is a tremendous feat for a show that burns through so much story, especially in earlier seasons.
In many ways, Teen Wolf began the same way, as slow as a supernatural teen series could. However, there was no pivotal episode I would define that drove the series. In many respects, Teen Wolf knew what kind of show it wanted to be from day one, slowly transitioning into the non-stop supernatural thriller that it is today.
Though I will be the first one to tell you that these days, it could be doing a bit more harm than good. Not much harm, mind you. There are just times I wish Teen Wolf would take a breath and let us know where the characters are emotionally. And at points, it almost goes out of its way to not introduce any kind of emotional arc. For example, recently it completely jumped over any payoff for Scott finding out Derek was alive, even though that thought was one of the causes of Scott’s guilt and for almost killing himself.
Still, Teen Wolf‘s fast pacing lets it weave in and out of genres almost effortlessly, sometimes episode-wide. It can go from an experimental, flashback-heavy installment to a true horror episode from one week to the next. And while things are not always what they seem, no one’s motivations are ever questioned.
Sure, it’s fast, it can throw you at times, and perhaps there’s some whiplash, but for the most part: nothing is truly muddled, which is a particular achievement for a show that moves so quickly. Plenty of people could consider that dumbing down, but what it really is, is clear. Plenty of the series’ aspects are clearly defined. It allows for the roller coaster ride to leave you just slightly dismayed, but never lost.
Winner: Teen Wolf
This poll closes Thursday, Aug 15, at noon ET. You can vote as many times as you’d like.