Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Writers: Learn From ABC TV (Part One)

If you had the ABC channel on anytime this past summer, you probably remember the million or so promos involving their new shows. Maybe you even remember their epic Sunday night promo about fantastical Once Upon a Time, killer Revenge, and the new but mysterious Park Avenue.

Thanks to the hype of ABC’s (admittedly awesome) Sunday line-up, viewers received two wonderful things.

One: a new song to add to the playlist. Have you HEARD the Skyler Stonestreet song in the background, a “Little Taste”. Pretty catchy tune there ladies and gentlemen.

And two: a recap episode from the returning OUAT and Revenge each.

What am I talking about? Well, every series with complicated plots and intertwining storylines must find some way to help new viewers keep up. Sometimes they do this with a static introduction at the beginning of each episode. Other times, they may just take a moment to recap the last episode. And with every new season, there are always chances of new viewers.

(My personal favorite re-cappers would be Supernatural - not only do they do a “Then” and “Now” - themed beginning, but they end every season with a cool, lengthier montage of the “Road So Far” to the Kansas song Carry On My Wayward Song.)

With the success of OUAT and Revenge, ABC decided to have fun with their recap. They tried it once already with Revenge - dedicating an entire episode to the recap of the episodes so far. Revenge’s first recap episode had aired shortly before the last few episodes of Season One. Not only did it tell the entire story of Emily Thorne/Amanda Clarke so far, but with a whole hour dedicated to recapping, we got a glimpse of all the plotlines, all the B stories, all the details and clues.

When ABC did new recap episodes, they did it differently. OUAT told the story of their first season by going character-to-character. They introduce a character, briefly go into that character’s backstory (or whatever you may need to know by that point) and then continue on with the story. 

Throughout the hour, they introduce all the characters and the backstories as well as move on though both plots - the story happening in Storybrooke, and the story happening in Fairytale land. This is especially useful because that’s how OUAT works already - every episode was dedicated to telling some of one character’s backstory, or just diving in deeper to the story of Snow White and the Evil Queen.

Revenge freshened up its recap of season one: while it did tell most of the same story, this time with the finale episodes, the recap episode was narrated by one of its main characters, Nolan. (Who the consensus agrees is the most lovable good-guy/evil-sidekick in the show, this girl included). 

Now this worked because while Revenge features a lot of egotistical, stiff, haughty elites as main characters, Nolan is both egotistical and haughty as well as cynical, dramatic, and overall humorous. He has enough emotion for both himself and his partner in crime, the unforgiving Emily Thorne. Since he’s also involved in a lot of the story, behind-the-scenes, he never misses an opportunity to mention his part in the action.

If you watch these recaps, it’s kind of funny: they feel like a television show’s version of a synopsis, don’t they?

How can we use that? Well, this blog post is already a mile long so…let’s discuss that next time!


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