Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Give Me a Real Character, Please

I'm going to preface this post with a few facts about myself and my relationship with The West Wing. Firstly, I just finished the second season finale. Secondly, I have no knowledge of what will happen in the next five seasons. I am spoiler-free (other than knowing that John Spencer passed away while Season 7 was still filming). And thirdly, I am so in love with this show that I'd like to marry it (that last one is to soften the coming criticism).

Recurring characters. Very important, recurring characters. They keep the show running, in a sense- they bring plot arcs back, and they keep important character arcs going. If, of course, these recurring characters are well-written. When I watch a show, I know that recurring characters are well-written if I don't feel that the writers "brought them back." If I feel that they are there to tell their story, I know that these are characters. People. Unfortunately, Aaron Sorkin seems to have trouble with this.

Let's take Danny Concannon as the first example. He has no storyline at all, other than that he likes CJ and he's a White House reporter. We know nothing else about him. And then, somewhere along the beginning of Season 2, his character simply disappears. Ainsley Hayes is the second example. The entirety of her character is that she's a Republican working in a Democrat White House. Again, we know nothing else about her, and she was brought back to the show simply when Mr. Sorkin needed someone to argue with the character of Sam Seaborn. 

In comparison, let's take Charlie Bradbury, a recurring character on Supernatural. She's been on the show three times- three- and I know more about her than I know about Danny, who was in 28 episodes of The West Wing, and Ainsley, who has so far been in 8 episodes. You see, that's the difference. When I think of Charlie coming back to Supernatural in Season 9, I don't think of it as her character being brought back for x, y, or z reasons. She's being brought back because she's a character and she has a story that needs to be told. Unfortunately, on The West Wing, it feels like the writers bring a recurring character back for a simple, technical purpose and nothing else.

Don't forget the people standing on the side. Good writing is in the details, my friends. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Teen Wolf aka Teen Writers Can Do Better Than This

I'm currently in the middle of re-watching Teen Wolf. Not because the show is so deep and complex that it requires a re-watch, but because, I'm embarrassed to say, I wasn't paying so much attention the first time around.

I am now, and I have to say that I'm somewhat disappointed. I'm enjoying the show very much- on one level it's a guilty pleasure, but on another level the characters are not only enjoyable, they also develop as people (which, to me, is the most important aspect of television writing). As much as the characters' development gets my writer's senses tingling, however, the basic plot of each episode also has to make sense.

Unfortunately, it doesn't always. 

In the third episode of Season 1, "Pack Mentality," Allison is in her room with Lydia getting ready for a double date. Lydia dismisses each article of clothing Allison presents and then picks out a sparkly black top for her. Allison's father comes into her room and tells her that she's not going out tonight because there's a curfew, given the recent attack on a bus driver. When her father leaves, Allison then sneaks out of her window in the same clothes, and Lydia opts to take the stairs. 

Now, a few things: If there's a town curfew, why hasn't it been announced in school? Why doesn't anyone seem to know about it? Later on in the bowling alley, there are plenty of people who are there bowling- did no one tell the owner of the alley that they had to close before curfew? Allison and Lydia have seemingly been trying to pick out a blouse for her for a while- but when they do pick one out, it's discarded and Allison sneaks out of the house for the date wearing her regular school clothes? Then Lydia decides to take the stairs to leave the house- wouldn't Allison's father question her? Why is she even at the Argents' house in the first place if there's a curfew?

It's in the details, Teen Wolf writers. The details.