Category Archives: About Television

WRITING: Season Arcs and Season Formulae

Television has changed dramatically in the last 10-15 years. Not only the standard storytelling methods of the typical day-to-day procedurals, but the existence of the purely-serialised and partially-serialised series. Now, many shows don’t just have episodic arcs and formulae, but seasonal ones. The funny thing is, it’s in a way a longer form of what is done at the episodic level, with a seasonal formula repeating every season with new elements.

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SCRIPT SHOWCASE: The Good Wife 1×16, “Fleas”

It’s important for screenwriters to read pro scripts. TV, movies, webseries, the works. We have to see how they work. Not just the functions of the various formatting elements (slugline, action, parenthetical…) but the interplay of the language. The expression of a complicated idea in simple actions and dialogue.

Sometimes I want to share the love for a really good, well-written script. Right now, it’s the episode of The Good Wife that convinced me the show was truly something special.

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TV: Ambition as a Character Trait

“Even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary. You get hungry even though you’ve just eaten. […] But what is happiness? It’s the moment before you need more happiness. I won’t settle for 50% of anything. I want 100%.” – Don Draper, Mad Men 5×12, “Commissions and Fees”.

“I want everything too much.” – Rachel Berry, Glee 1×08, “Mash-Up”

There’s something really powerful about looking at a television character and seeing yourself. It’s a powerful feeling, of being recognised and legitimised by something greater than you. It goes right down to basic representation of minorities and women, sure, but it effects every viewer whose life is depicted, represented, on screen. How those traits are expressed are a reflection of societal attitudes of people, and what they mean for those being depicted.

So in the wake of the most recent Mad Men, which had lots to talk about, I’d like to talk about the element that worked like a mirror, showing me a reflection of myself, and how that trait is depicted in television: ambition.

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DERIVATIVE WORKS: Legitimacy, Ownership and Creation (The Community Fires Dan Harmon Remix)

Do you know what’s puzzling about the divide between ‘legitimate creative works’ and ‘illegitimate creative works’?

The idea that the creator and unique voice of a creative work can be legally prevented from creating it further, and that someone who has never been a part of that project can, without the creator’s consent or permission, continue producing it ‘legitimately’.

To most people, this might sound ridiculous, but that is exactly what just happened on NBC’s Community. Dan Harmon, widely acknowledged as the unique voice that made this small show great, has been fired from his own series, being replaced by two new showrunners who have never even worked on the show.

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TV: Boardwalk Empire and Power

I’ve just started watching Boardwalk Empire, and though I’ve got plenty left to watch – I’m six episodes in – I have a few thoughts on what I’ve watched…

(Spoilers for the first six episodes of Boardwalk Empire. In turn, I would request you don’t spoil me for anything after ep 1.6 in the comments. This is one show that, aside from one huge spoiler for the end of the second season, I’ve largely managed to stay unspoiled for.)

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MEDIA: Why Crowdsourcing is Awesome

I’m a huge proponent of crowdsourcing funding for creative projects. With Kickstarter getting projects that hit a million dollars, plus others like IndieGoGo growing at a steady pace, crowdsourcing is bigger than ever, and steadily growing. But why is this a good thing?

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TV: Raising Hope, Sabrina, and Mad Pride

On television, there’s really only a couple of stories available for themes of mental disorder or mental illness. There’s the crazy psycho, who has schizophrenia (or just an ‘unknown mental disorder’, a la Tyler Barrol of Revenge), and is a danger to anyone and everyone they come across. They are serial killers, rapists, kidnappers… you name it. There’s the tragic guest star, who just wants to have a life but can’t because her disorder (and these characters are typically women) gets in the way. Those… are pretty much it. And a ‘crazy’ character is invariably defined by their mental issue, with few details beyond that.

Which is why Raising Hope‘s “Sheer Madness” (2.15) episode pleased me.

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TV: Netflix and One Season Wonders

There was a time, not too long ago, where a marginally-rated show would go off the air and never resurface. If you’d missed it, unless you knew someone who had taped it, it was gone. Even illegal pirates had a tough time, searching for months to find a show that would probably never surface. But maybe things are changing.

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TV: Was Adoption the Victim of Foul Play in Once Upon a Time’s Pilot?

I enjoyed the pilot of Once Upon a Time. I had some issues – Jennifer Morrison‘s gritty character, the best thing about it, clashed completely with everything else in its universe. The ‘fairy tale’ world was a bit hokey. Alright, a lot hokey. And one odd recurring theme was about adoption and, if you read between the lines, it gets a little ugly…

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TELEVISION: The End of ‘Big Love’

I was a faithful watcher of HBO’s Big Love throughout its 5-year run. However, there was always a disconnect between what plenty of critics thought about the show, and its point-of-view about its lead character, and what it seemed the producers saw in him. That extended right down to the very end of the series. As you can probably tell, spoiler alert for the end of the show…

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