Thursday, 25 April 2013


One thing it's good to be aware of is the Arena of a show.

By Arena I mean the world a show exists in, it's 'venue', the source of how stories are generated for each episode. The Arena becomes a key part of the 'rules' of that show. Understanding which Arena best suits an idea is a vital part of developing any show.

I think there are three main categories of Arena.

1 - The Closed Universe. When the stories, conflicts and resolutions are all generated within the regular characters, and their interaction with each others. Most Soaps fit here.

2 - The Problem solvers. When the stories are primarily generated by characters external to the regular cast. Where people bring problems to our cast to be solved. Most 'procedurals' fit here;  Police, Legal, Medical, Private Eye...

3 - The Mutual Support system. Where the regular characters go out into a wider world, experience stories generated by external characters, and then bring their response back to the regular cast.  A lot of sit coms based around a group of friends will belong here, as each character goes out, has some kind of victory or defeat ( usually relationship based ) while the rest offer advice and/or criticism.

Most shows combine some elements of two of these. One type of Arena will be predominate, with elements of one of the others, usually explored as a B story-line. An example would be a Medical drama where two Doctors have to cure a sick child ( Problem Solvers ) whilst dealing with the fallout from having had an affair with each other ( Closed Universe )

A clue to the main Arena of each show is often in it's Title. Eastenders ?  Law and Order ?  How I met your Mother ?

I have so far found only find a very few examples of shows that have elements of all three.

And only one show that seems to me to be a rare amalgam of all three at once.

But I'll save that for later.


This may change as I get more into this, but I am thinking to break each post down into four sections.

1 - Facts
( Episode length, writers, directors, company, links etc. )

2 - Episode breakdown

3 - Structure and Style

4 - Things learnt.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


I recently, and somewhat lacklusterly, attended a weekend seminar on WRITING FOR TELEVISON.

I was wrong in my assumptions, it was a revelation, and, amongst other things, sparked in me the decision to find and watch as many pilot episodes of shows that I could find. Which didn't prove difficult to do, thanks to the internet, and boxset DVD'S and the wholesale flogging off of all sorts of brilliant and odd stuff at HMV at the start of the year.

Doing this taught me things I hadn't previously been consciously aware of. I say conscious as I believe we all subconsciously understand the grammar and language of film and tv better than we would think we do. We all watch the stuff. God help us, we watch hours of the stuff. ( Well I do, anyway ) That is why we always know when a show sells the story, and us, short. But understanding this, dragging it into the light of the conscious bit of the brain. That is half the fight.

So the plan is to watch / rewatch 101 pilot episodes from as many diverse tv shows as possible, and post on each one. I am not sure to what exact purpose at the moment. I am hoping great revelations will unfold. I suspect any enlightenment will be small pieces of the puzzle. I hope I don't eventually get bored and wander off.

But at this moment in time I am up for this. And keen to see what unfolds.

BTW - This may take some time.