TV Shows! We love em! we watch em! some have a special place in our hearts! others not so much! We love certain characters! we hate others! Some characters are well developed! others are just a waste of space! Why am I shouting so much!?, find out in the next blog post! Just kidding, we’ve all watched TV shows before be it Action, Crime, comedy, drama, adventure, mystery, horror, biography, romance, etc. Some shows are regarded as legendary because they managed to amaze us on a consistent basis for many years. We stopped watching others because they just deteriorated too fast. Some get cancelled after a few seasons, others manage to stand the test of time as its story reaches a final conclusion. This is all part and parcel of the complex Tv show universe we constantly emerge ourselves in. Series are practically extended forms of movies so the pacing is likely to be very slow. It is the norm that it takes one whole season to reach the climax of one story and finding a way to make the viewer anticipate the next season. That being said, great shows manage to keep you interested in the them by introducing interesting subplots and making viewers identify with various characters no matter how evil they may be. The bad ones just bore you throughout. Admit it, we’ve all watched a TV show for some time then suddenly stopped watching it. We all have things we look out for in series before we invest our time in them. Anyway, enough of the intro. This post is here to critically analyze what makes a good Tv show. As you read this, I want you to have some shows in mind as you quickly reflect.
This is the main point of every story be it in a series, movie, book, play, etc. This is what holds everything together. In the U.S, people pitch ideas of what their proposed show is about to the broadcasting company. It is the plot that they mostly focus on. If the company is intrigued with the idea, there’s a go ahead for production. However, some pass this stage and still end up rubbish. This shows how important it is to have an interesting plot. If the whole purpose of the show has question marks all over it, then there’s no hope. If on the other hand the plot is unique and intriguing with many possibilities to develop it further over time, then there’s a good chance. The plot should be credible.
- How plots are developed over time
This is another critical part of all Tv shows. Many writers and producers come up with interesting ideas for their plots but when it comes to developing the story over a period of time, they tend to mess things up. Good Tv shows normally plan years ahead in order to make events feel organic and progressive. They are able to keep you interested in the story without steering too far from the original purpose of the show. As I said in the intro, series are like extended versions of movies so the pacing will be quite slow at times. Skill is required is to keep things interesting even though the time from point A to point B in the story seems slow. The trick is to use interesting subplots.
- Twists and Turns
These are elements all good Tv shows infuse in their stories as time progresses to keep things interesting. This does not mean every second you must be twisting and turning your story like Lionel Messi dribbling defenders just for fun. The twists must make sense. The twists bring about an element of suspense and surprise. It prevents the show from becoming stale and predictable. So when a major shock happens i.e. a likable character dying, it throws everybody off guard and the viewers anticipate the next episode or season just to see what direction the show will take.
First off, every Tv show has subplots. They are the side stories. They are elements used to fill in just so the viewers don’t notice how slow the buildup of the main story is. Subplots are creative distractions. That being said, subplots have to be interesting. They are to enrich the context of the plot as a whole. They are supposed to add substance to the characters in the story. Quality of subplots are an integral part of any Tv show. If the subplot isn’t interesting, the show falls apart…fast.
Subplots must be cohesive with the main story. They both must work hand in hand. They must be seamlessly woven into the main story. They must occur at the right moments so events don’t feel out of place. They must have an effect on the characters involved and in turn must affect their decision making in events of the main story. They must enrich the context of the story as a whole.
Every Tv show must have likeable or interesting characters. They don’t have to be good guys but they must have something unique about them. I’m not saying characters should be flamboyant wearing flower pattern jackets with unicorn hats but they must have something that people can relate to and say “that’s my favourite character on the show”. If more than 70% of viewers choose one character as their favourite on a Tv show, the show is likely to be doing something wrong. Characters have to be complex, reasons behind their actions have to make sense, they are supposed to make the plot come to life. They are the critical elements to every story. If the characters are boring or have little use for the story as a whole, then your show has a problem.
Characters in Tv shows have to make sense. You see some shows and realize “This person is not needed in this story, seems like they just want to offer him/her a job.” Characters’ actions have to be accountable. This meaning the actions of characters must make sense. You as a viewer must understand why this character performed an action. Since characters are a major part of the story as a whole, each action is scrutinized.