I finally caught up with the third episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and I may be forced to revise my unimpressed initial review of the show. I’m still completely underwhelmed with Thomas Dekker as John and find the writing–especially Sarah’s voiceovers–too self-serious for its own good. But I’m getting drawn in to this series, and it’s not just residual love for Firefly via Summer Glau. Though Glau, or rather her bodyguard-bot character, has a lot to do with it: the conflict between her well-meaning ruthlessness and Sarah’s agonized ethics make for an interesting moral exploration. (As BSG shows, if you’re going to do Serious and Dark, you need serious dark ideas to back it up.) And Cameron’s learning to adapt to the ways of high school gives Chronicles a badly needed dose of humor.
But that’s not what I want to talk about right now. I want to talk about that title. Lord a’ mercy, that title. Just look at it. It has 12 syllables. It has a colon. It has another title in it. That title is so long, it needs a commercial break in the middle.
And yet if the ratings hold up, the show threatens to destroy my not-even-half-baked theory that very long titles are the death of TV shows. (If you are born with the name Poniewozik, you learn quickly what a liability extra syllables are in this world.) Remember The Education of Max Bickford? The Brotherhood of Poland, New Hampshire?
I have a hard time coming up with any successful series with titles as long: The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (8 syllables), The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (10) and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (10) don’t match it. Thumbing through the reference Total Television, the few longer examples I can find–say, The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed Grimley (14)–did not exactly set the world on fire. And yet there’s Chronicles, its giant title rolling and rolling across the screen like a freight train holding up traffic at a railroad crossing.
I’ve got to be forgetting something, right? Is there a past hit TV show that broke the dozen-syllable barrier? Bonus points to whoever can come up with the longest title, hit show or otherwise.