Monday, November 06, 2006

writing revolution on the small screen

I had a surprising thought: "I've seen every episode of The Office (all of 'em), and I don't even know what time it comes on. " I don't know if other people have had similar thoughts recently, but I laughed after I had the thought. "But how can you have seen them ALL if you don't even know what time the TV shows are on?" some of you techno-novices maybe asking yourselves. Read on. In recent years I haven't watched much TV fiction. Now I watch enjoy Lost and The Office.

Potential for TV-Script Weaving

Because of TV-show DVD rentals, TiVO and Bit torrent, people often watch TV shows starting from episode #1. Before these behaviors started, I think more people tuned in randomly to shows (this is how I have behaved, and I didn't stick to any shows--maybe some early X-files). The new behavior means that shows can be written differently (assuming lots of people behave like I do); they don't need TV shows that stand alone like they did 10 years ago (like early X-files did). Humor, for instance, can stretch between episodes more effectively if the viewer has seen all the preceding episodes. (Perhaps Arrested Development was ahead of it's time--err--ahead of our viewing behavior shift).

Some people hate and refuse to commit to watch a show at a specific time, only watching one episode at a time, and having to sit through commercials (this accurately describes me). Plot development can be so slow, and that annoys people. If a person must endure slow development from week to week, then chances are increased that the person will get distracted by another show or activity.

So some TV shows are becoming more serialized. TV studios have made them more accessible for us to watch from episode #1. This makes it easier for writers to make TV plots into more vibrant tapestries. Who can't appreciate a vibrant tapestry? Nobody, that's who.

Ok, everybody go jog around the block now. And eat some vegetables, for goodness' sake.


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