Wednesday, September 28, 2011
The New TV Season: Week Two
And now it’s week two. You’ve seen some pilots. One or two you thought were God awful. What was the network thinking? You can only imagine how bad the pilots that didn’t get on the air were based on this stinkburger. Fair enough. They had their shot. They sucked. You’re done.
And then there were the pilots that were just okay. But there was something about them that was surprisingly and delightfully not terrible. Enough so that you’re willing to give them another look next week.
Hopefully, one or two pilots knocked you out. You can’t wait for week two.
Most likely you missed a lot of the pilots. But for whatever reason (good buzz, mad crush on the lead, last week you were in jail; this week you're on parole) you are motivated to watch the second episode of some new series.
May I make a suggestion that applies to all of these scenarios?
Don’t judge the second episode. Give it a pass.
Chances are it will be weak.
Why? Several reasons.
In general, the second episode is just a retelling of the pilot. But the writer has to walk a fine line. The show must introduce the series to the new viewer and yet not be so repetitive that anyone who did watch the pilot feels hosed.
Just the task of retelling the pilot is a bitch. Most pilots are premise pilots. The two leads meet for the first time and decide to move in together. Week two: “Hey, remember when we met last week and decided to move in together?” Not as good.
Another problem: It often takes time to really find your groove. Sometimes a whole season. You learn what works and what doesn’t. Week two you’re really just feeling your way in the dark. Over the next few weeks you’ll make adjustments and tweaks. In every series I’ve ever co-created, the second show has always been the worst. And in every series I’ve ever co-created, I wrote the second episode.
So don’t judge a series by week two. On the other hand, it’s fun to watch the creative process in action. See from week to week how the show evolves. You’ll learn as they learn.
As my writer friend, Dave Hackel used to say, “At the end you’ll have a beautiful baby. But sometimes they come out feet first”.