The Never’s has reminded me of what it is I love about movies/TV, so I’m going to post about it at length.
Initially I had only planned to comment on things that I noticed as a screenwriter/filmmaker, but it became apparent pretty quickly the best way to do that was breaking down/analyzing each scene.
As someone who teaches writing I:m all about the set up of a story, because without proper set up there's no reason to care about the characters and follow them on their journey. This is a big problem with amateur/indie films, they skip the set up and jump right into the situation.
S01E01 is a master class in story telling efficiency, proper set up and showing, not telling. This is part of what grabbed my attention with the show and it only got more interesting the more I watched. There’s so much attention to detail and it all connects down the line.
The first 14 minutes, the teaser and the set up, are absolutely amazing. The opening montage, well the first montage of two, tells us a great deal. So much is conveyed without dialogue while introducing us to (almost) all of our primary characters
Amalia True- Sad/resigned. A low paid worker.
Penance Adair - Smart and bright eyed.
Lord Massen - Wealthy/Commanding.
Sarah - May be suffering from psychological issues*.
Mary Brighton- Aspiring to perform in the theatre.
Frank Mundi - There's no real prevailing character trait here...
Horatio Cousens - Doctor who has a Family.
Lavinia Bidlow - Wealthy and is disabled.
Augustus Bidlow - In service of Lavinia
What I found most impressive is that it not only shows some prevailing aspects of their personalities, but also the socio-economic disparity between the characters.
There's only so much you can show in a. few second of screen time. Ad such there's nothing to say about Mundi, beyond this introduction and that he's involved with Mary.
The same is true of 'Auggie'. He is a caretaker for Lavinia in some fashion, but this early on there's no way to know in what manner.
Chriag of The Nevers Podcast pointed out in their review of episode 1 that, in the montage, Augustus is pushing Lavinia around. Whereas in their daily lives she pushes him around.
TV is a visual medium and the ability to convey information in moving images in so important. It's a skill even experienced filmmakers sometime lack. The Nevers pulls it off flawlessly and I'm so impressed bye the effort put into it.
Show, don't tell. The cardinal rule when you're working in a visual medium. Because when you do it right an image can convey more information than pages of dialogue.
*In reference to Sarah psychological distress. I say ‘may’ because she may not be. A family member or husband could have her committed on the flimsiest of evidence in 1899.