by Pat (now going by Patricia) Gulley
Laurissa’s blog last week got me thinking about this business of seeing the same plot used by several TV shows all within a week or two of each other. I’ve seen this for years and have wondered about it. Is it all the same writers using pseudonyms writing all the shows? Is it one writer coming up with an outline and a slew of contract writers coming up with the variations? Where have we heard that idea before? Oh yeah, quite a few Best Selling Authors of Crime Fiction. Or do they all get together over a beer and decide on a concept, feeling it is currently a newsworthy item and the great unwashed will benefit from them putting it up in several places to be viewed from different perspectives?
That last question leaves me in major doubt of such altruistic concerns. Production companies, movies or TV, are focused on one thing: making barrels of money. Yes, barrels, because well liked, minor money makers are considered failures and TV networks cancel them with little or no concern for the write-ins to save them. Okay, once in a while another network might take the show up. Stargate is an example going from Showtime to the SF channel, and SF did very well with it. Or should we be saying SyFy? (Comment-barf).
Sure we hear about independents who want to make great films about important things, but the problem there is: by whose standards is it important or great? So they take a whack at it, and that’s why movie rental companies will always have a slew of movies 85% of which are duds.
Okay, that all sounds like digs, so getting to the heart of the matter, there are no new plot ideas. There are concepts (as Jenny pointed out) and plot and character driven ideas will make them new and exciting and create something to care about. If you like a show’s characters, and they try to handle that ‘same old dreary concept’ then it will be more interesting because we like the character.
Long thoughtful think about that………And, sorry to sound negative, but I’m afraid that more often then not, that leads to something else that has surprised me of late. A show I loved from the start, watched faithfully, couldn’t wait for the new season to start, and suddenly realize that I couldn’t care less anymore. What happened? Well, the concepts have been seen a dozen times before, the plot and twist variations weren’t that different or exciting and the character seemed to be going through the motions with a lot of false outrage not in keeping with the protagonist’s original character. And we won’t go into the fact that over a couple of seasons we don’t really have that character anymore, we have a new version reflecting the persona of the actor. It just becomes wearisome.
As I replied to Laurissa, one has to wonder if publishers or film producers really want new ideas. They claim they do, but it is risky. Tried and true works for them in overworked plots and concepts, or remakes. But if you really do have a desire to come up with something new, again I say, try reversing the overworked concept. If aliens and alien invasions are the overworked concept with millions of plot variations, then try for humans are the original molecule of intelligent life in the universe. It will have to be as exciting as inventing a new world of intelligent aliens and heroes for a never-ending war with humans. I’ve talked this over with a few SF nuts, like me, and it never went anywhere. We couldn’t produce an interesting story line; it seems more like reporting on efforts and progress, with a lot of unfulfilled hope. Or, they always led to ‘Millions of years later, when all hope had been extinguished, and humans had evolved into so many other variations, war broke out……Or, billions of years later, when humans had populated a few million galaxies, another intelligence was found and war broke out soon after. Okay, we didn’t exactly put major effort into this, and maybe a better writer could think of something, but it was considered an uninteresting story line. On the other hand, it someone did write an interesting story and it was well received, what do you want to bet…..well you get the picture.
So if you did truly come up with something new, I mean Brand new, (I’ll bet you’d be exhausted) do you think you could sell it? Truly good salesmanship is required to get something new out there, and if you don’t have the heart for that then I guess you need an agent that does. And getting an agent, I’m sure, is fodder for another blog.