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View Full Version : Serialized Shows (Split from "Lost Returns" discussion)



DWSTXS
02-09-2008, 10:26 PM
Question for all LOST fans: As writers, what do you gain from watching LOST? What do you, as a writer, admire most about it? The plotting? The dialogue? The many interwoven stories? The mythology?

I was just wondering, because I have been so amazed, in the past few years by so many shows on tv that incorporate so many characters, and storylines. Sopranos, Deadwood, Six Feet Under, The Shield, The Wire, and of course, LOST.

Of course, I'm a sucker for a LONG novel.

ChaosTitan
02-10-2008, 06:23 PM
I didn't want this post to get lost (no pun intended) among the series speculation on the other thread. It's a good topic for discussion. I don't have time to reply this morning, but I will this evening.

Serenity
02-10-2008, 07:07 PM
I love the dialogue and the mythology behind the premise. But I'll add another. I love the ever changing characters on the show. No one is really where they were when they crashed.

For instance:
Jack, a doctor who wanted to save lives (look how hard it was for him to let Boone die ages ago), becomes someone who would put a bullet in someone's head.

Charlie was something of a self-centered drug addict who kicked the habit, fell in love, and sacrificed himself to save another.

Sawyer didn't give a crap about anyone, probably not even himself, and did everything he could to make everyone around him miserable. Now, he's becoming something of a leader himself.

One of my favorite phrases: 'Nothing is static, everything is dynamic' fits this show perfectly, in my ever so humble opinion. That's why I like it.

NikeeGoddess
02-10-2008, 07:12 PM
serial shows are pretty much the only scripted tv shows i watch. they get you hooked* and keep you coming back.

this is an old technique from the saturday morning flash gordon type cliffhangers that would get kids back in the theaters the next saturday. and the soap opera ads were so popular with their stories that they turned them into actual tv shows. look how many people get completely hooked on these shows for years?!!!

the stand alone shows are not as important to catch because you can always see it on a rerun and they don't have to go in order for you to understand what's going on.

two years ago - i was fortunately enough to ask* JJ Abrams in person if the serial shows was a new trend. lost was gaining momentum. 24 was a huge hit. and those alias serial eps guest staring tarantino had huge ratings.

i think anyone who wants to break in with a new tv show should go this route as it's more likely to keep your viewers coming back again and again.

*i also asked what the smoke monster/force that everyone was running from - his answer: it was different for different characters -- whatever they were afraid of.

ChaosTitan
02-11-2008, 08:35 AM
i think anyone who wants to break in with a new tv show should go this route as it's more likely to keep your viewers coming back again and again.



The flip side, though, is the series that gets cancelled and leaves too many unanswered questions. ABC's The Nine and FOX's Reunion are two very recent examples. You have a long, serial storyline set up from the get-go, and then the network execs swing the ax. You end up with angry fans who are itchy to avoid serialized shows the next time around and stick with procedurals.


But back to the OP's question, as a writer, I most admire the plotting of Lost. I know there are times when I'm sitting there, wondering if the writers are just reaching into a hat for their ideas. Or tossing darts at a board to see what sticks. Then they hit on a great story or strike the write cord, and it makes me wonder why I doubted them in the first place.

It's one of the same reasons that I love 24. It hits and misses, just like everything else, but I like to see one story arch out over an entire season. Buffy and Angel, while having their fair share of standalone episodes, also had season long story arcs.

Maybe this is why I tend toward series of books, both writing and reading. It's rare that I write a novel completely standalone. Even if I haven't actively written a sequel (or a continuation, if you will), something is always brewing.

Celia Cyanide
02-11-2008, 10:03 AM
As a writer, one thing I find interesting about LOST, is that for a while, many people were complaining that they are "making it up as they go along." I don't understand why this is a legitimate criticism. I was especially surprised to see it come up at this board, since so many of us dislike outlining, and actually enjoy making it up as we go along.

Also, there are many shows that DO make it up as they go along, because they do not have a set end date, and are hoping to keep the show going as long as people are watching.

The show is interesting, and fun to watch. I don't think whether or not they have an outline for the series makes it any less so. Take the hatch, for example. If they introduced the hatch, not knowing what was inside, the answer they came up with would still be interesting and satisfying.

katiemac
02-11-2008, 06:28 PM
The show is interesting, and fun to watch. I don't think whether or not they have an outline for the series makes it any less so. Take the hatch, for example. If they introduced the hatch, not knowing what was inside, the answer they came up with would still be interesting and satisfying.

What's interesting about this example is that, unlike novel-writing for instance, the creative team has to appeal to someone else. I remember reading an interview with Cruise and Lindelof after the season 2 premiere. They were describing what it was like to go in front of the ABC producers and pitch "there's a guy in the hatch pushing a button to save the world." That's what they wanted to do; if the producers didn't like it they were screwed because they didn't have an alternative. I think at the time they had the script for the finale they didn't know what was in the hatch.

But I've always been a fan of serials. Since I was young when Buffy started, it's really been the only way I've watched television--television I've truly enjoyed, anyway. It's not until recently when all of these serialized shows premiered (many of them thanks to Lost) that I realized Buffy was on the early side of the trend. I don't have the patience for one-episode storylines and appreciate the writing much better when everything builds. In most other shows the characters devolve over time but not that I've seen in serials.

NikeeGoddess
02-11-2008, 06:40 PM
one thing I find interesting about LOST, is that for a while, many people were complaining that they are "making it up as they go along." I don't understand why this is a legitimate criticism
i'm not sure if they were really complaining. but it's kind of unsettling to find a story where you don't see an end to it. unsettling in a good way as it keeps up coming back for more.

as a criticism it seemed that it was a one season show (like gilligan's island) and each season they brought in new characters (first the others, then the front half of the plane) to keep the show going... and they've only been on the island for 91 days!

prison break has the same situation right now. are they going to have a whole season on the run just to be put back in a 3rd prison?! seems ridiculous but people still keep watching. then of course some of us watch just to see those pretty blue eyes ;) ;)

and 24 the most ridiculous of all - there is no possible way that all of that stuff can happen in 24 hours!!! it's a legit criticism, but we love it anyway. and this next season - Tony's back!!!

Celia Cyanide
02-11-2008, 06:56 PM
I don't have the patience for one-episode storylines and appreciate the writing much better when everything builds.

I think it's interesting that you say it that way, because when an Twin Peaks was on the air in 1990, the audience didn't seem to have the patience for it. Everyone complained after the first season that they were dragging out the Laura Palmer storyline too long. The first season was 7 freakin' episodes long! That's only one week in Twin Peaks time. Did they really expect the murder to be solved in that ammount of time?

NikeeGoddess
02-11-2008, 09:21 PM
Twin Peaks was different. It started out as a sunday night movie and unless you were up on the knowledge that it was going to be a tv show you assumed the murder would have been solved. I distinctly remember going to a TP's party and when it was 10:45 we were like, "there is no way they're going to wrap this up in the last 15 minutes." little did we know...

and the reason why it dragged was b/c it was so freakin' weird that it seemed to be going no where. it was definitely different and grounds-breaking.

katiemac
02-12-2008, 01:50 AM
I think it's interesting that you say it that way, because when an Twin Peaks was on the air in 1990, the audience didn't seem to have the patience for it. Everyone complained after the first season that they were dragging out the Laura Palmer storyline too long. The first season was 7 freakin' episodes long! That's only one week in Twin Peaks time. Did they really expect the murder to be solved in that ammount of time?

I guess it's a different kind of patience ... in terms of predictability, I don't want to waste my time with a half-hour sitcom that gets a couple laughs at best, where every situation is the same. It's the same reason I don't have the patience for a lot of romantic comedies.

But for Lost ... I am the most impatient person when it comes to this show. I want answers now, but I'm willing to wait for them because it makes me think and gives me good story in the meantime. I know the pay off will be worthwhile. But again, I sort of "grew up" on the serialized show with Buffy and learned early that season-arc storylines pay off much, much better in the end.