Television writing

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A Game of Thrones: Storytelling without Words

Published April 20, 2012 by wyldflamingo

“A Game of Thrones” is now several episodes into Season 2. The storytelling is complex, compelling–I can easily imagine Shakespeare, or Machiavelli observing similar antics in their day, and filing the details away for use in the writing. The acting is superb, the costuming gorgeous, the scenery (Northern Ireland, Malta, Iceland!) amazing.

And yet every time the opening credits roll, I am glued to my seat, staring, mesmerized.

Angus Wall has opening credit design props already (Big Love, Carnivale, Rome). I’ve seen the first two, and found them moving, and absorbing. But more than those others, “A Game of Thrones”‘ opening credits tells a story. And every time the story is different. Each time, the cities involved alter, to fit those who fall into the episode being aired.  Then, there’s the actual mechanics of the crdits themselves. The long shot is as though from a lens of a telescope, and the lens goes into more extreme magnifications to look down (godlike, perhaps) on the happenings of this world. As the lens focuses, a city begins to rise up–the construction is specific to the cities in the novels, which A Game of Thrones is based on. Kings Landing,  for example, has high towers and walls, which crank up as though a piece of clockwork. You can tell the size and potential importance of the locations based on how extensive the constructs are.

Another cutaway shot is of the sun following its path above the planet, further inviting the watcher to feel godlike in their third party observation of the stories happening below. The final shot, pulling back from the cities, focuses on the standards of the various royal houses involved–House Lannister, House Baratheon, House Stark, House Targaryen. The animal icons involved are all in various action poses–much like their houses, trying to find their way through the mess of the succession, and the intrigue that makes up the storyline.

Watching this map of the world come to life through its credits, I almost feel like I can the framework George R.R. Martin must have imagined, when he initially began the books this show is based on. I know Martin had planned to make this series so epic, so incredible, that television would never pick it up (after he experienced incredibly painful “kill” decisions on other shows he wrote for, specifically “Beauty and the Beast”, which had incredible storylines that television management couldn’t grasp). I hope he feels HBO is doing his vision justice.

When worlds collide

Published April 12, 2012 by wyldflamingo

We’re going back and re-watching Season 6 of Bones (some Netflix ‘adultery’ occurred, and I finished the entire season without my husband). One of my prior posts commented about Hart Hanson, who is a writer and producer for both “Finder” and “Bones”. No sonner had I posted about this observation than the next episode we watched of ‘Finder’, featured a cross over character visit from Dr. Lance Sweets, who plays a psychiatrist on staff for the FBI.

I’m not sure about when characters cross over to other shows, especially in a series still in its infancy. It sort of feels like cheating–playing on the “street cred” of an existing show, with established characters, and fanbase. Is ‘Finder’ already in danger of being cut (at episode 3)? I know Hollywood and television execs are continusouly winnowing down the amount of time a show has to succeed…so with that knowledge, it’s not a surprise that ‘Finder’ is trying to capitalize off an existing audience.

The Sweets episode came and went on ‘Finder’, and the character remained true to itself (although the premise of his coming to ‘The Ends of the Earth” in the Florida Keys is a little far-fetched). I can’t say the same for when Dr. Jack Hodgins hires the main character (Walter) on ‘Finder’, to investigate the death of a space shuttle pilot.

Anyone who watches ‘Bones’ will know that Hodgins is an intelligent, deeply thoughtful scientist, with a penchant for conspiracy theory. In the context of ‘Bones’, amid all the solid scientific work Hodgins performs, with equally experienced co-workers,  the conspiracy theory rants are an amusing quirk.

Hodgins comes to ‘Finder’ because he’s been following the death of a space shuttle pilot, who reported a UFO. Hodgins theorizes the government is burying evidence of alien visitations, and wants Walter to expose the cover-up, in addition to helping the second shuttle pilot regain his credibility. Unfortunately, removed from his regular environment, and plunged into the world of ‘Finder’, Hodgins is no longer an intelligent, focused scientist. He comes across as a conspiracy nut, determined to read alien invasion into every clue, every hint, or direction the investigation takes. ‘Finder’ loses credibility with me: the decision to not stay true to Hodgins character profile feels sloppy and amateurish.

There have been many other series where crossovers happen (Happy Days/Laverne and Shirley, Buffy/Angel) without this strange mutation happening.

Why would a producer let this happen to a strong secondary character from one series? It seems like it dilutes both ‘Finder’ and ‘Bones’.

 

Published April 9, 2012 by wyldflamingo

We’ve run out of episodes of the shows we’d been following at home (‘Grimm’,  ‘Once Upon A Time’, ‘Smash’), and so, flipping through Hulu, I saw ‘Finder’. Vaguely recalling this looked appealing when I last saw a commercial for it, we started Episode one.

Five minutes in, as they were rolling credits, I was contemplating why the dialogue and characters were already so familiar, and I saw the writing credit: Hart Hanson.

Ah, strong, sarcastic male lead, with a penchant for getting into trouble.

Attractive, intelligent female authority figure.

Cast of supporting characters with interesting quirks.

This sounds like ‘Bones’.