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TV Analysis

Alex and Nick break down six iconic TV pilots to look at what makes them great TV scripts (Alias, Community, Homicide, The O.C., Scrubs and 3rd Rock from the Sun).

What makes a memorable TV pilot work? How do they introduce characters in unique ways? How do they set up the world and engine of the show? What rules do they bend or follow, and why? What TV writing lessons can you learn from them?

Plus, we discuss how seriously you should take glowing feedback from screenwriting competitions.

The Paper Team starts things off…

SHOWNOTES

Content

Paper Scraps: Glowing feedback from competitions (00:00:50)
1 – Introduction to the six TV pilots (00:05:49)
2 – Why we selected these TV pilots (00:10:43)
3 – Teasers and openers (00:19:55)
4 – Character introductions, ensemble dynamics and dialogue (00:26:37)
4 – World and exposition (00:42:00)
5 – Pilot structure vs. series representation (00:47:35)
Next Week On (01:02:53)

Links

BlueCat Screenplay Competition
“Feedback and Notes: Building Your Reading Onion” (PT08)
“Brains and Eggs” (1×01 – 3rd Rock from the Sun)
“Truth Be Told” (1×01 – Alias)
“Pilot” (1×01 – Community)
“Gone for Goode” (1×01 – Homicide: Life on the Street)
“Premiere” (1×01 – The O.C.)
“My First Day” (1×01 – Scrubs)
Josh Schwartz
David Simon
Dan Harmon
in medias res
“Morning Routine” – American Psycho (Video)
Paul Attanasio
“TV Characters 101” (PT46)
Tom Fontana
Diner (Movie)

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

Use code PAPERTEAM to get $15 OFF when you enter a Launch Pad Competition

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! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Alex and Nick discuss the importance of weaving A, B and C stories in TV writing, and interesting ways of doing it in TV scripts.

Why is it important to cut between storylines in TV? When should you start and end each storyline? Which storylines should you spend more time on in your TV script? When should you only do a single A story? What are some noteworthy and unique formats for A/B/C plotlines?

Plus, we talk about where to read TV scripts.

The Paper Team become master-weavers…

SHOWNOTES

Content

Paper Scraps (FKA Odds-and-ends): Finding TV scripts (00:55)
1 – Why does TV have A/B/C stories? (03:51)
2 – Nuts and bolts of using A/B/C stories (10:27)
3 – Interesting and non-traditional uses of weaving A/B/C stories in TV (18:22)
Takeaways and Resources (32:22)

Links

Writers Guild Foundation Library
TV Calling Script Library
Zen134237
Lee Thomson Script Library
Simply Scripts
Daily Script
IMSDb
“What are A, B, and C stories in screenwriting?” – TV Calling
Team America Montage (Video)
“Marge vs. the Monorail” (4×12 – The Simpsons)
“Ozymandias” (5×14 – Breaking Bad)
“That’s My Dog” (4×05 – Six Feet Under)
“Eleven Angry Men and One Dick” (3×07 – 3rd Rock from the Sun)
Boomtown
Graham Yost
24 (TV Series)
“Kim vs. the Cougar: The Oral History of 24’s Most Infamous Scene” – Vulture
“My Bad” (1×06 – Scrubs)
Awake (TV Series)
Kyle Killen
“How Lost revolutionized storytelling” – TV Calling
“Walkabout” (1×04 – Lost)
“The Constant” (4×05 – Lost)
Watchmen
Slaughterhouse-Five
This Is Us
Oz (TV Series)
Carnivàle
“Bowling” (2×20 – Malcom in the Middle)
Sliding Doors
“Remedial Chaos Theory” (3×04 – Community)
“Split” (3×01 – Coupling)
“A Rickle in Time” (2×01 – Rick & Morty)

Resources

“Elephant Bucks” – Sheldon Bull
“Cracking the Sitcom Code” – The Atlantic
“Television Writing from the Inside Out” – Larry Brody
Plot Threads (TV Tropes)
Plot Parallel (TV Tropes)
Two Lines, No Waiting (TV Tropes)
Four Lines, All Waiting (TV Tropes)

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

Use code PAPERTEAM to get $15 OFF when you enter a Launch Pad Competition

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! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Alex and Nick discuss how television viewing habits impact the writing and enjoyment of TV shows.

How does the way you consume a show influence the audience? How have changes in viewing habits transformed television writing itself? What are some ways to use that paradigm shift in your own writing?

The Paper Team binges in one sitting…

SHOWNOTES

Content

1 – How people consume TV today (00:52)
2 – How viewing habits impact the perception of TV shows (11:37)
3 – How viewing habits affect and influence TV writing (25:44)
4 – A little about the future of TV viewing (42:20)
Takeaways and Resources (45:45)

Links

Over-the-top content (OTT)
YouTube TV
YouTube Red
“Why mythological shows are often idolized” – TV Calling
The Hatch
Final Five
“Damon Lindelof Doesn’t Want Critics To Binge Season 3 of The Leftovers” – IndieWire
“The Art of the TV Episode” (PT20)
“Two Boats and a Helicopter” (1×03 – The Leftovers)
“Guest” (1×06 – The Leftovers)
“The Bythewoods and The Writers Retreat” – 3rd & Fairfax
Flesh and Bone

Resources

“Netflix Studied Your Binge-Watching Habit” – The New York Times
“Series, Movie, Series, Repeat: A New Netflix Binge Routine” – Netflix

This episode brought to you by Tracking Board’s Launch Pad Writing Competitions

Use code PAPERTEAM to get $15 OFF when you enter a Launch Pad Competition

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! :)

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

For the first Paper Team Live event, Alex and Nick go to WonderCon 2017 to host a panel on the dialogue between TV writers and their fans.
This relationship has become a vital tool for many television shows — and one that is often very fickle. That’s why we’ve invited writers and assistants from several beloved shows to share their thoughts on the issue.

Panelists include Ray Utarnachitt (DC’s Legends of Tomorrow), Jill Weinberger (Chicago Fire), Tennessee Martin (Lucifer), Diya Mishra (The Tick), and Taylor Brogan (The Shannara Chronicles).

What does a typical conversation look like between a writers’ room and their fandom? How much attention do TV writers pay to fans? Have fans’ voices changed the course of a story or character? What is it like going from being a fan of a show to being involved directly in the creative decisions?

The Paper Team goes live in room 209…

SHOWNOTES

Content

Live Paper Team WonderCon panel (00:00:38)
Next Time On (01:01:15)

Links

Taylor Brogan on Twitter
Diya Mishra on Twitter
Tennessee Martin on Twitter
Jill Weinberger on Twitter
Ray Utarnachitt on Twitter
The Shannara Chronicles
Into the Badlands
Gilmore Girls
Emily Gilmore
Powerless
The Tick
Pokémon (anime)
Lucifer
South of Nowhere
Chicago Fire
Wonder Woman (TV series)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
It’s Your Move
The Tick Writers’ Room on Twitter
Lucifer Writers’ Room on Twitter
Into the Badlands Writers’ Room on Twitter
The Shannara Chronicles Writers’ Room on Twitter
Derek Haas
Marc Guggenheim
Ben Edlund
Person of Interest
Terry Brooks
ATX Television Festival
Hep Alien
Amy Sherman-Palladino
Sutton Foster
Rachael Harris
“The One Where Rachel Has a Baby: Part 1” (8×23 – Friends)
Psych
Michael Emerson
Sports Night
Holly Robinson Peete
Iron Fist (TV series)
Atom (Ryan Choi)
Atom (Ray Palmer)
Brandon Routh
Hogsmeade
The Magicians (TV series)
iZombie (TV series)
Victoria Thompson’s “Gaslight Mysteries”
Grace and Frankie
Legion (TV series)
Good Girls Revolt
Riverdale (TV series)
Lee Toland Krieger

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

You can find Paper Team on Twitter:
Alex@TVCalling
Nick@_njwatson
If you have any questions, comments or feedback, you can e-mail us: [email protected]

Hi there!

Alex Freedman

I'm Alex Freedman, the writer behind TV Calling.


I started this site in 2008 to chronicle my own journey in television writing.

697 posts and 9 years later, TV Calling has also become a comprehensive resource dedicated to the full TV writing industry — from spec to success.


Everything here is written by yours truly (unless otherwise credited), so feel free to blame me for any missed deadlines.


I hope you'll answer your television calling, and join me in this creative journey.


Write on.


P.S.: New around? You should start here.

What’s Alex Watching?

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