Characters Matter

Insert appropriate quip about the importance of strong moral character *here*. Character Matters, but I won’t subject you to the puns. There are more interesting things to discuss.

John, of College Grad, Real World, has a post about what pulls him (or people in general, perhaps) into a TV show. You should read the post, but the SparkNote version is: Good characters that the audience cares about are what make them tune in. In the past, I have posted about what I believe makes a good film: primarily the story. John’s post brought up an interesting question for me about the difference between movies and TV shows (or serial online shorts, etc.). We watch movies for the story, but when we watch TV shows, do we care about the overarching structure that the episodes take place within?

Certainly, there are serial shows that maintain and develop a story arc over a season or even an entire series, but there are also episodic (that is, non-serial) shows that have little or no continuity between episodes. They essentially reset the circumstances between episodes. Most sitcoms fall into this category. So the story is limited to what can take place in a 30 or 60 minutes time slot (minus commercials). That story could be compelling, to be sure, but if that story isn’t carried over from one episode to the next, then viewers must be tuning in, week after week, for something else. In my estimation, it probably isn’t the special effects.

Of course, this train of logic brings up another question: Is it possible to separate a story from its characters? And if you do, does anyone still care about the story? A topic to explore at a later date.