Top quality TV shows from around the world draw-in viewers with intriguing, careful character and plot development using incidental, oblique exposition for deliberate effect.Wiktionary said:exposition: (writing) A technique used in fiction, including novel, play, and movie, by which background information about the characters, events, or setting is conveyed.
Annoyingly, network TV pilots, judging by the current crop so far, are in a very big hurry to prep potential viewers, with no time to spare on literary essentials. What are the writers to do? In some cases, all that can be done is to back up a dump truck of "instant background" and hope that some of it sticks. Some of it stinks.
Such character exposition usually involves one person reciting to a new partner all that he/she has researched about the other's brilliant career, "top of the class" education, and personal history, while walking briskly down a corridor or driving maniacally during a vehicle pursuit. Note: it may not always be flattering - it is often done by an annoyed supervisor to show that the person in question is a loose cannon, lone wolf, trouble maker, etc. who will get in big trouble if the supervisor's blood pressure goes up any further, etc. etc.
Rapid character exposition on TV is likewise done when a new team member is introduced into a busy squad room or similar open setting in which members refer to each others' pasts in the same fashion as above, while twirling in their chairs to accomplish many high-tech tasks at once. In a sitcom it can be quite painful. In such settings even a quickie comment from a passer-by can be loaded with exposition: "Way to go Matt, you sure saved the Senator's election campaign when you took out that sniper in the produce section!"
So, with such a trite, well known plot device in such common use, how did this new crop of pilots do?
Chase - a "U.S. Marshals" clone, with gung ho camaraderie and a standard police procedural format - don't really care for the format and the truck load of exposition but will check it out again to see if there is hope
Lone Star - good concept with misleading title (not a Western) - toned down for network TV - intriguing and fairly original - shades of "My Own Worst Enemy" - will watch again
The Event - familiar elements of Lost, FlashForward, X-Files blended with enough hooks to keep viewers interested... only for awhile if it cannot create and maintain a devotion to its own story arc
Hawaii Five-O - oh please, could they have crammed even one more ounce of exposition into that pilot? A show with so much potential has begun as little more than an action-cops-buddy-film clone. Time will tell, but...
Outlaw - one glaring downer is the young, female P.I. character, so brash and over-the-top as to be ridiculous, particularly while The Good Wife's Kalinda Sharma (played by Archie Panjabi) has set the bar so high. Otherwise, the show has promise.
Shattered - love it (see existing thread)
More to come as I see them.