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Side Effects May Include:

23 August 2012

I’ve figured out how almost every narrative TV program can fix the problems it has with story, pacing, character, and dialogue.

It’s simple, really. Hire someone to be a script supervisor or story editor who is not only a very good writer, but who is attempting to go cold-turkey from cigarettes.

I’ve been off four days now, and here are a few things I’ve noticed: I’m annoyed easily, especially by things that seem illogical or stupid. When it comes to watching series TV, I tend to microfocus that annoyance on the writers. When I see something that’s completely out of place for a character to do, or dialogue that was obviously originally written for someone other than the actor delivering it, I immediately wish I had been in the writer’s room at the time the script was being finalized.

I would have been easy to spot. I would have been the guy at the back of the room, drinking insane amounts of coffee and chiming in every five seconds to say “that’s stupid,” or “Jesus, you’re an idiot.”

Yeah. I’m irritable. But if you could go back in time and fix one TV show — pop yourself in the writers room and know that every suggestion you gave would be implemented — which show would you pick, and how would you fix it?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 23 August 2012 1055

    I’d fix all series TV and be like, “Five years and stop!” (Yes, I said ALL series TV–not just one show.)

    I think of shows I loved and how they kind of came apart at the end. X-Files…we’ve discussed it. But there you have all this good stuff going and then…it got big. So producers were like, “Just crank it out!” and it flew apart. Then it lost what people loved about it, but…they still had good characters, even though it wasn’t what we started with. But even there, it was half-assed.

    I loved Northern Exposure, but it came apart at the end. Got popular, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but…it was dragged out for the sake of ratings — not for the sake of story.

    I wouldn’t mind being 100 years old and still seeing new Simpsons, just ’cause. And I won’t say it’s impossible to take a series show longer than 5 years and still be great. But generally, get in and get out. Pull a Battlestar Galactica and be like, “Yeah, see…we’re not gonna just drag this out forever just ’cause it’s doing well.” If a show can carry itself for a decade, great, but…if I had the power, so many shows would end while still good.

    I’ll go as far as saying it at the risk of being flogged by a horde of geeks rivaling zombies: it’s good that Firefly only went one season! Okay, I don’t totally mean that — I’d have loved a couple more seasons. But imagine it going the way of so many shows, where it got big and then just went on for the sake of making money and the story lines that attracted us were stretched too long or tossed aside all together just to keep it going. I’d rather see a great show die young than to drag out and become a parody of itself.

  2. Bri permalink
    23 August 2012 1715

    Twin Peaks. Interesting idea, horrible writing.

  3. 26 August 2012 0056

    i watch so little television that I can’t give you an example. Some movies, though, it was clear to me that they couldn’t decide what they wanted to be about. Someone needed better focus.

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