EYES, THE WIRE, HOUSE, GREY'S ANATOMY... - Complications Ensue
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Friday, April 15, 2005

I've been watching pilots and new shows like crazy, some on DVD, some on my DVR. I think I'm starting to overdose. Yeah, yeah, yeah, buncha core cast. Yeah yeah yeah, they have some problems they have to deal with. Whatever. Some scenes are plotty, some are revelatory. Scenes are rarely plotty AND revelatory, which I guess is what is boring me to tears.

Orrr... then you have the HBO meandering-plot we-don't-have-a-franchise-really we-just-have-a-buncha-characters stuff. The Wire, about a bunch of bad guys and a bunch of cops, all more or less doing their thang, but not, at least in the pilot, obviously moving towards each other.

It gets so I can barely motivate myself to rent The Shield, which I know is a top spec these days. It just sounds like all the other cop shows, but with different crimes and different cops.

That's probably good because when you start to get bored is when you see the patterns most clearly. And right now I'm writing a book about the patterns. It's also good because when you're bored is when you force yourself to break the patterns and come up with something fresh that thrills not only the audience but your fellow writers. If you can wow them, you've probably got something interesting.

What I wouldn't do for a few more Firefly episodes... you really don't know where one of those is going.

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4 Comments:

Amen, Firefly was amazingly innovative... especially since it came during the time the Star Trek franchise (read: Enterprise) was puttering to a halt and running out of ideas. I think alot of people were believing that good "space" sci-fi was no longer being innovative. It was like a breath of fresh [insert word].

I've noticed that the most successful shows have tried to stay versatile in their story-telling. And their formula is not to have a strict structure for how events unfold.

For example, smallville caught my attention because of superpowers and a neat idea. But the formulaic "Freak of the Week" turned me off (person gets superpowers, wreaks havoc, superman stops him, and sappy ending in a barn). I have noticed that the best episodes in that show are the ones that don't really follow the show structure and try to be different.

So here's a question I have: When writing a TV show, how do you find a balance between the weekly formula, and trying to be innovative?

Maybe you could include a FAQ in the book with these types of questions. :)

By Blogger Jason Sanders, at 8:15 PM  

Alex, I'm telling you right now -- THE SHIELD does NOT disappoint. Characters you think are good guys, become bad guys and vice versa. It's real and it's dramatic and it never fails to surprise me. Characters are weak and strong and move toward one another only to be pulled away by the job or by circumstance. I LOVE THIS SHOW.

Chiklis deserves his Emmy win, and the writers are never phoning it in. I should only hope to get one tenth the level of quality and surprise they do.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 8:36 PM  

Let me just put in my vote for The Wire. It's a terrific show -- however it took a long time before I finally grokked it. There are so many characters: good guys, bad guys, badder bad guys -- that it takes a while before any of it makes sense. And, if you're trying to watch it by starting with season 2 or 3, just forget it. Start with season 1.

CD

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:39 AM  

re: firefly

word.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:47 PM  

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