Let’s talk about that for a moment shall we?
Looking at a few of my favorite TV shows, its hard to pin down. The Closer and NCIS are both really great shows I feel. There’s something about the writing, the acting, and the whole production team that makes it amazing. It’s also the rapport that the cast members have with each other that ties everything together. It’s also great when you can see how characters have grown and evolved over the seasons.
In NCIS, the character Tony DiNozzo grows up from a petty, obnoxious jerk to a responsible member of his team, giving up (for the most part), his hazing of McGee (McGeek, etc.). Or in The Closer, the main character Brenda Lee Johnson starts out working in a department that absolutely despises her, but by the end of the season, she’s won them over.
Let’s talk about another one: Webcomics.
Webcomics, like Solitaire, are my guilty pleasure. I have one to read for just about every day of the week, its a wee bit ridiculous/awesome. Two of my favs? PVP by the amazing Scott Kurtz, and Dominic Deegan by Mookie Terracciano.
I first had the pleasure of being introduced to both back in high school, around 2004ish (God, I feel so old at 22; GET OFF MY LAWN). I discovered PVP when I was working in a local comic book shop, in comic book form. When I couldn’t find another issue of it, I decided to follow the comic online, and became a dedicated reader. As for Dominic, a friend of mine introduced me to the series, and I spent like a good two weeks reading the archives before I finally caught up.
If you clicked on the links, you’ll notice that both comics are very different in writing and style. PVP is rooted in the real world, with one of the current story arcs involving an office move to Seattle (which Scott did for realsies), and the style is very finished and professional. On the flip side, Dominic Deegan is rooted in a fantasy world (something akin to Dungeons and Dragons), with real world problems between the races (aka racism; so punny), and an ink finished style.
What makes a TV show great? Is it the acting, and the ensemble cast? Or is it the writing, and the characterization that goes into each episode? How about a webcomic? Is it the art? Or is it the writing?
When it comes to a mix medium, its sometimes impossible to separate what makes it great, and there are other times when its not.
Let’s look at another TV show: Top Gear.
For the uninitiated, Top Gear can be best described as three middle aged men dicking around in cars. The original Top Gear just finished its 16th season on the BBC since its re-air in 2002. The show is broadcast all over the world, and is seen by millions each week. There have been two attempts to recreate the success of the BBC version, with Top Gear Austrailia and Top Gear United States. Australia lasted two seasons, and the American version isn’t far behind.
Speaking on a personal level, I loath the American version. Despite the fancy studio, identical challenges for the presenters, it’s a piss poor copy of the original. There is no recreating the original show.
Why? Its the chemistry between the presenters. There is a genuine hate between James, Richard, and Jeremy, but at the same time, they (sort of) respect each other. On the American version, its too scripted; they’ve tried to script the personalities of the three presenters, and its failing miserably. There are very few genuine moments within the whole show.
“What in the world does this have to do with writing?!” I can hear you scream from across the internet. “This was a pointless rant about your favorite things!”
“Maybe it is; maybe it isn’t.” I would respond with shifty eyes.
Going back to Top Gear, The Closer, and NCIS, I don’t so much watch the show to see what cars they talk about, or the crimes they solve. In fact, I could sometimes careless. I watch the shows because I like the interactions between the characters. Arguments between Jeremy and everyone else; the trouble Flynn and Provenza get into; or the petty arguments between Zhiva and Tony.
On the subject of Webcomics, PVP has such a range of characters and a collection of nerdy humor to keep me satisfied. The recurring jokes are my favorite (i.e. Brent’s unwavering loyalty towards Mac products, coffee, and getting attacked by a panda). With Dominic Deegan, if you wait long enough, Mookie throws in a few puns that will make you giggle. Or shake your head. I love the puns because, its not limited to one character; everyone makes them at some point in the series.
Don’t focus so much on the story, that the characters can’t breath.Remember that your characters are people too, so give them a leg of their own to stand on; a personal trait that makes them stand out. Do you have a detective that constantly gets lost, despite having a GPS? Or a wise cracking side kick that can turn any bad situation into a punny one. (see what I did there?)