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.

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