Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Game, TV, and Screenwriting Blog

Baby Name Voyager graphs baby name frequency by decade.

Social Security Administration: Most popular names by year.

Name Trends: Uniquely popular names by year.

Reverse Dictionary Search: "What's that word that means....?"

Facebook Name Trees Match first names with last names.


April 2004

May 2004

June 2004

July 2004

August 2004

September 2004

October 2004

November 2004

December 2004

January 2005

February 2005

March 2005

April 2005

May 2005

June 2005

July 2005

August 2005

September 2005

October 2005

November 2005

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

October 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

February 2010

March 2010

April 2010

May 2010

June 2010

July 2010

August 2010

September 2010

October 2010

November 2010

December 2010

January 2011

February 2011

March 2011

April 2011

May 2011

June 2011

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

January 2012

February 2012

March 2012

April 2012

May 2012

June 2012

July 2012

August 2012

September 2012

October 2012

November 2012

December 2012

January 2013

February 2013

March 2013

April 2013

May 2013

June 2013

July 2013

August 2013

September 2013

October 2013

November 2013

December 2013

January 2014

February 2014

March 2014

April 2014

May 2014

June 2014

July 2014

August 2014

September 2014

October 2014

November 2014

December 2014

January 2015

February 2015

March 2015

April 2015

May 2015

June 2015

August 2015

September 2015

October 2015

November 2015

December 2015

January 2016

February 2016

March 2016

April 2016

May 2016

June 2016

July 2016

August 2016

September 2016

October 2016

November 2016

December 2016

January 2017

February 2017

March 2017

May 2017

June 2017

July 2017

August 2017

September 2017

October 2017

November 2017

December 2017

January 2018

March 2018

April 2018

June 2018


Wednesday, November 10, 2004


You never want to waste time showing the audience a scene if they can pretty much guess how it's gonna go. But, sometimes we need to see that scene -- or more accurately, we need to see it occur.

Say you have a dramatic conversation between two girls about, say, an affair. "Are you gonna tell him?" "I don't know."

If it's a multiple-storyline show, we probably go out on the second girl's indecision -- we want to keep the audience hooked while we go to other story lines.

If it's a single-storyline show, the conversation probably ends when the second girl decides: "I have to tell him, don't I?" and then we cut to her with her boyfriend, working her way up to actually telling him. (I'm theorizing that in a single storyline show -- whether on film or TV -- you go out of scenes on decisions more often, and in multiple storyline shows you go out on indecision more often. Think about that, class, and let me know if you agree.)

Probably the least interesting part of this whole story is the girl telling the guy. We know how that conversation's gonna go.

But we have to see that the conversation happens.

So, what we do is start the conversation onscreen and then cut away. You can cut away to a wide shot where we just see the body language -- and a few seconds of that will stand in for the whole dreadful conversation these two people are having up close.

What prompts me to write about this is a very, very neat trick Boston Legal pulled. There was a big argument about whether a lawyer should tell her client something she knew that would crush him emotionally. She has an obligation as a lawyer to tell her client everything she knows about the case. She has an obligation to him as a human being not to give him information that can only hurt him emotionally.

The conversation itself, of course, is not something we want to watch. We don't want to see the guy suffer. So she says "There's something I have to tell you" and then we cut outside the conference room to watch him crumple on hearing the news. And we go to another story line.

But, clever writers that they are over there, we come back to this story line close to where we left off -- and she's not having the conversation with him that we were expecting. (It's a different, slightly less crushing conversation; and it's a lie.) They used the conventions of TV to trick us. We accepted the Cut Away from the Predictable Conversation and assumed it meant that the conversation would go predictably. But it didn't.

Clever, clever boys and girls.


I think your theory on multiple storylines v. single storylines probably holds up, although I've had such a long day today that I can't think of any other good examples to support your theory.

I assume that multiple storyline shows go out on indecision more often because there's less time to tell the story; in general, TV moves faster than ever, and in a show with two or more storylines you have to cut as much of the obviousness as possible to fit your stories into an hour (or half-hour). Single storyline shows can take a bit more time for the character to weigh their decision.

That was a neat trick pulled on Boston Legal. I still don't love the show, but it's a half-way decent diversion for Sunday nights. I like it more than I liked the last year of The Practice before James Spader arrived, but not as much as I liked The Practice at its peak.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:12 PM  

Post a Comment

Back to Complications Ensue main blog page.

This page is powered by Blogger.