Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The First Time

I've watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer a total of six times. The whole show, all seven seasons. I've watched Angel and Doctor Who three times. Dollhouse and Firefly I've watched twice. I'm currently in the middle of Season 1 of Supernatural for the second time (I'm really excited to be doing this rewatch!).

There's something about re-watching a show. There are things you notice the second, third, fourth time around that you'd never notice the first. For example, if you pay attention to the fourth season of Buffy, you'll notice multiple references to Dawn, her younger sister who appears in the next season. The first time I watched Supernatural, I noticed how the dynamic between Sam and Dean subtly changed, but only in watching the show again am I now able to notice the stark difference between the brothers' relationship then and now. 


But there's nothing like watching a TV show for the first time. You meet the most amazing people who teach you some of the most important lessons of your life. You get to fall in love with them as you watch them smile and cry and struggle and embrace. If you're like me, you become connected to some of them in a way that makes your friends raise their eyebrows and ask you if you've taken any happy pills recently. You watch your characters make some of the dumbest mistakes a person could ever possibly make. You watch them win the war, beat the bad guy. Sometimes, heartbreakingly, you watch them become the bad guy. You laugh with them, you cry with them, you mourn with them. And sometimes you get so fucking mad at them- as mad as you get at yourself when you do something stupid.

But you'll never get to meet these people again. The second, third, and fourth time around, you get to notice things you've never noticed before. But you already know them. You don't get to experience them for the first time again. So pay attention as you fall in love, because there's nothing like your first time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Do Not Fuck With Your Fans

Your first rule. Your most important rule. Do not fuck with your fans. 

In a day and age of DVR's and TiVo's, of pausing and rewinding, of memorizing every line of dialogue and facial expression, your characters cannot say something or act in a way that will cause your audience to (ecstatically) jump up, point a finger at you, and yell, "No! Leonard would never do that! Sheldon would never say that!"

We are currently at a very sophisticated point in history with television shows. I am, of course, aware that I'm speaking of a time in which reality TV graces our screens in abundance. But I don't count reality TV as real. What I'm talking about are real, scripted shows that need talent in writing, directing, and acting (and much more, but we'll keep it simple for now). After Joss Whedon made character development, continuity, and story arcs relevant with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, we now, as an audience, pay attention to the people whose lives we tune into once a week. 

So your first rule: Do. Not. Mess. With. Your. Audience.

The way Steven Moffat did, in the seventh series of Doctor Who. The Doctor says, "I thought we might need a gang. Not really had a gang before." The Doctor has had a gang before, at the end of the fourth series. The gang of all gangs- Donna, Rose, Jackie, Martha, Captain Jack, Sarah Jane Smith, and Mickey. And no amount of crappy writing (Chris Chibnall) and showrunning (Steven Moffat) will ruin that.

You need to know your story and your characters better than your audience does. You better memorize every damn piece of dialogue, every traumatic experience, every tragic facial expression or flirty wink you've ever written, because your fans are doing the same. And for the love of all that is holy, do not fuck with your audience because they will leave you.