So my best friend and I were having one of our great IM chats today because she was one of the many people on the internet who is less than pleased with how the ending for How I Met Your Mother turned out. I will not reveal any spoilers for those who might be concerned. I never watched the show, but I knew something about it and was asking questions or making observations as someone who writes rather than a fan of the show. A lot of our conclusions came down to why TV writing and book writing are different. As much as I love my TV shows, I have kicked some shows off the DVR list (and one network) after committing some seriously bad writing.
So, I shall now present my list of why books are better than TV.
Your characters will never decide they want to go off and pursue other projects when their contract runs out. In TV, this often results in a scramble to write off a character which may also kill plot lines that have been developing and leave fans feeling cheated and angry. When you are a writer, your characters leave the story when you are good and ready to let them leave and you get to decide how. George R.R. Martin likely makes characters wish they could unionize.
You have characters and not actors. You do not have to worry about bad story lines popping up as a result to deal with an actor or actress that has becoming pregnant, gotten arrested, or taken a trip to rehab. Never mind the highly difficult situation of how to cover for an actor’s tragic death which has happened too much as of late in the entertainment industry. It isn’t that I dislike actors, or that I don’t respect actresses who are pregnant (I have two kids), or actors/actresses who try to face their problems through rehab, but I have seen some bad writing result to explain their disappearances.
No one complains about casting choices in books.
Books have editors. TV episodes are mostly screened for things that fall under the “indecent” category. Books are also screened for character development and plot lines. How many times have you seen a TV show do something that makes no sense or seems to betray the development of a character? How about time spent setting up a plot line that vanishes without a trace never to return? If a showrunner has a bad idea that falls with in the safe zone of a decency category, it happens.
Your author stays the same. Except in cases where writers do work for hire, an author gets to stay the boss of their worlds and characters. How many times has a network fired the creator of a show and replaced them? Ever notice how this can change the whole feel of a show? A new creator might go off on a tangent with characters or storytelling that the creator never would have done, often leaving original fans pretty ticked off, while new fans don’t see what the problem is.
Do you have a reason why book writing is better than TV writing? Is there a show you watch or watched that pulled one of these much to your annoyance? Please comment bellow, but comment readers, beware of spoilers!
Some of you who have read this blog before are aware I’m a big Leverage fan because I adore stories with anti-heroes and that show has them aplenty. Yesterday, the sad news was released that Leverage was being canceled and the episode on the 25th will in face be the last.
Dean Devlin, the creator, had already foreseen this possibility and had used what he intended for the series finale for the season finale. I’m glad that his finale will be the finale he intended and that his story will be ended the way he wanted.
One of my favorite TV series, Chuck, ran into that danger zone too and its creators made an art form out of the season finales that could be a series finale if needed but could be continued as well. Smart move for a show that existed on the bubble a lot.
I’ve also seen other shows that intended for a certain season run but were pushed to continue or that ended up getting dragged out on a very undignified life support until the fans only watched it out of pity loyalty. I’m still not certain how I feel about the extension of Supernatural as Season 5 was the original intent for its run and the finale that season would have been an amazing series ender. I was also an X-Files fan back in the day and most long-term fans have agreed to pretend the final season didn’t happen. Clearly the case of a show that should have been allowed to end with dignity a season or two before.
Do you agree? Disagree? Know of any other shows that should make the list of shows that needed to be allowed to end sooner than they did?
I’ve made no secret of the fact that bad boy characters are often my favorites, I even wrote a post on it. Bad boys frequently fall on the anti-hero hero scale and there are many, many anti-heroes popping around entertainment right now. I’m going to talk about the anti-heroes hanging around TV right now.
Warning the rest of this post contains spoilers for Leverage, Once upon a Time and Revolution. I have labeled the sections regarding each show accordingly.
Once Upon a Time:
While I adore Charming, I cannot help but to squee whenever an episode features Hook. He stole another man’s wife and has been in cahoots with Cora, the Queen of Hearts. There’s also the part where he’s a pirate. Yet, he’s quickly become a fab favorite. You’re never certain what side he’s on, he’s charming, witty, you can’t help but to feel for him when his love was taken away by Rumpelstiltskin, and Emma did ditch him up in the Giant’s home. I think he’s so fascinating because he is so charming and witty that you want him to turn the tables on Cora and side up with the good guys. you also have to respect that he is so very clever. Is there anyone else who thinks he’s one part Jack Sparrow one part BBC Robin Hood or is it just me?
Miles Matheson is probably my favorite character because Billy Burke wields his dry humor like a weapon to provide some of the best one-liners ever. He helped Sebastian Monroe become the power he is today and trained his army of scary minions for him. But we root for him. Why? The loyalty he shows Charlie and by extension Danny. The fact he turned away from Monroe’s army, and you know, the whole thing where he rejected his former bond with “Bass” for his family. He’s a character that’s earning redemption whether he intends to or not.
I call it Ocean’s Eleven meets Robin Hood, and you know, the Parker Show because of how much I love her character. When it comes down to it, they are a group of thieves. You root for them because they try to help the little guy and take down people we see as greedy villains who harm others. At one point, most of the characters note that they’ve never physically hurt their previous targets (except of course, Elliot with the darkest past of all). Geeks relate to Hardison and his charm doesn’t hurt. people feel for Nate loosing his son the way that he did. Parker was clearly from a troubled home. Elliot has a soft spot for kids, veterans and small town honest folk. Sophie’s redemption is in the way she acts as a big sister to Parker and tries to make Nate a better man.
So while I’m cranking our some good daily word counts (I’m hoping to enter a few contests this winter and want to be able to have time to do a quick edit before submitting), I’m going to write about something sort of writing related.
I refer of course to my TV watch list. When I’m not trying to terrorize the Wild West by letting my magic-wielding heroine through it, or chasing my toddler around, I’m a big geek and my TV favorites often reflect this. For now, I will discuss my network favorites, the summer schedule should be a post of its own.
1) The Big Bang Theory and its geeky antics are one of our favorites. The toddler attended a Phoenix Comic con in a Baby Sheldon costume just because. While many of Sheldon’s lines are our favorites, I truly think Leonard is the guy most geeks relate to. Most of my favorite episodes involve appearances of Evil Wil Wheaton. The teenagers I work with in my day job have this joke that I’m like Sheldon because I decide all ties. i also had a group one year that adopted the phrase, “That’s how we roll in the Shire!”
2) Castle had me at Nathan Fillion although I love the interactions with his daughter and mother the best. That and the times his top of the line laser tag equipment comes up.
3) Revolution has me considering writing dystopian/post-apocalyptic someday. I was intrigued by the combination of J.J. Abrams and Eric Kripke and giddy that Jon Favreau directed the pilot. Billy Burke’s character is my absolute favorite and I’m intrigued at the world building that they’ve done.
4) Once Upon a Time is a lot of fun with their retold story characters but the cliffhangers have made me fail and nearly throw pillows much to my husband’s amusement. I also love some of the casting that they’ve done. It’s a lot of fun to watch.
At some point I will catch up on Fringe. Peter Bishop, I miss you so. Your shenanigans with Walter are some of my favorite. I like to think of you as X-Files of the corporate world. However, I have to be much more limited in my TV now a days between writing and the toddler, but there’s some really good stuff out there.