TV Procedurals (PT40)

TV Procedurals (PT40)

Alex and Nick discuss television procedural shows and how they work, from writing them to reinventing the genre itself.

What kind of procedurals are there on TV? How do you juggle between the characters, the overall story, and the case-of-the-week? What are some common tips for writing a procedural? How does the structure evolve between episodic and serialized procedurals?

The Paper Team solves the case…



1 – Defining TV procedurals (00:46)
2 – Writing TV procedurals: structure, case of the week, and reinventing the genre (03:22)
Takeaways and Resources (28:29)


Carol Mendelsohn
“How Joss Whedon and the Buffy writers’ room broke episodes” – TV Calling
“My Overkill” (2×01 – Scrubs)
Colin Hay
“The Art of the TV Episode” (PT20)
“Subway” (6×07 – Homicide: Life on the Street)
Andre Braugher
Dancing Baby
“Tracking the long career of half-forgotten TV auteur David E. Kelley” – Stephen Bowie/The A.V. Club
Ann Donahue
Steven Bochco
Century City (TV Series)
“When every Fox show becomes a procedural, it gets very boring” – Daniel Fienberg/THR
Michelle King
Robert King
“Common Descent” (2×17 – Stargate Universe)
“Should You Pay for TV Writing Education?” (PT19)


“How The Good Wife broke the rules for legal dramas, and then broke itself” – Noel Murray/The A.V. Club

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 Jason J. Cohn for helping us edit this episode.

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  1. Saevar Halldorsson

    April 26, 2017 at 12:32 PM


    I just discovered your podcast, and really love it. You present great wealth of information in each episode.

    You covered TV Writing Education in Ep 19, but I was wondering if you guys had taken Master Class in TV Writing with Shonda Rhimes? Could you perhaps cover her class in upcoming episodes, and see if the class is worth taking.

    Craig Mazin and John August of Scriptnotes had a fellow screenwriter take Aaron Sorkin’s Master Class and give a review on the podcast.

    I’m curious about your view on her class, and if you have taken it.

    Thanks for a invaluable podcast to all emerging TV writers.

    Saevar Halldorsson

  2. Alex

    May 18, 2017 at 9:30 PM

    Saevar :
    Thanks for the suggestion!
    I’m “taking” Shonda’s Masterclass this week and will be commenting on it on an upcoming episode.

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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.

693 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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