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Teasers & Cold Opens (PT61)

Alex and Nick discuss the importance of teasers in television writing and key elements that make cold opens effective.

What is the point of opening scenes? What makes a good teaser? How do you reveal character, story and theme in those first few pages? Are there teaser differences between comedy and drama?

Plus, we talk 2017 Emmy winners and the revamped Fox Writers Lab.

The Paper Team opens up…



Paper Scraps: Emmys 2017 & Fox Writers Lab (00:28)
1 – Why are teasers and opening scenes important? (11:00)
2 – What makes a good opener: tone, character, expectations, story, and world (14:55)
3 – Specificities of teasers: comedy vs. drama, length, pilot vs. normal episode (32:01)
Takeaways and Next Week On (38:19)


69th Primetime Emmy Awards (2017)
The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Show)
Lena Waithe
Donald Glover
Sterling K. Brown
Frank Pembleton
Fox Writers Lab
“Six Feet Under” Pilot Opening Sequence (Video)
“Riverdale” Pilot Opening Sequence (Video)
“Scandal” Pilot Opening Sequence (Video)
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer” Pilot Opening Sequence (Video)
In medias res
“Rick and Morty” Lighthouse Scene (Video)
“Breaking Bad” Pilot Opening Sequence (Video)
“Lost” Pilot Opening Sequence (Video)
“Breaking Bad” Crawling Scene (Video)
Stargate SG-1
“Lost” Season 2 Opening Sequence (Video)
“Lost” Season 3 Opening Sequence (Video)

Special thanks to Alex Switzky for helping us edit this episode.

If you enjoyed this episode (and others), please consider leaving us an iTunes review at paperteam.co/itunes! :)

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If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Paper Team
Paper Team
Alex Freedman & Nick Watson

Paper Team is a podcast about television writing and becoming a TV writer.


  1. Just happened upon your podcast covering cold opens and teasers.I have a voice-over on the first page of a pilot episode and I cringed! What you said about spending four months working on a script that got you noticed has me scratching my head too. Anyway I enjoyed listening and will continue to do so. Thanks

  2. Thanks for the listen Douglas! :)

    Voice-over in opening teasers isn’t inherently bad — but it is a trope. And like all tropes, using it successfully comes down to how you use it.
    Are you subverting viewers’ expectations? Are you tongue-in-cheek about it? Or are you just spouting off exposition the reader can get another way?
    If it’s just a crutch for compelling storytelling, then you may find you don’t need it after all. Otherwise, make sure it’s an interesting and unique take.

  3. Hi Alex thanks for getting back to me. Just saw this! I’m writing an original series based on my novel, LA Limousine, but I have no training at all. I just took Steven Peros class and am trying to implement the rules of writing that are so familiar to you but totally foreign to me. Check out limowriter.com if you get a chance.

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