Sunday, October 18, 2015
How to create a hit procedural
Your star must have some supernatural power. He or she can read minds, has an amazing photographic memory, can remember every lunch he/she ever had, is a math whiz, or the most common – can see Fairy Tale characters.
But with this gift must come a curse. They must be tortured emotionally. They must have a dark past. Their wife/sibling/child/imaginary friend has been killed and they’re still haunted by it.
When we go home with the hero we see he’s lonely. He can’t really get close to anyone because he’s so damaged. He compensates for no social skills by possessing this wondrous ability to bend spoons with his mind.
The hero must have a code. Oh sure he may come off as a cynic or she a bitch but ultimately they’re the champion of the little people.
The hero must have a partner of the opposite sex who finds him/her infuriating but is totally dependent on him/her. The partner is always somewhat of an idiot. He enters the crime scene and every week comes to the wrong conclusion. Only our hero, with his snazzy power, is perceptive enough to surmise what is really going on. And if the partner wasn’t already dumb enough, he has to now argue with the hero. The hero ultimately turns out to be right.
The hero must be surrounded by an investigative team. They stand around, provide exposition, and chase bad guys. Having a superpower means you never have to run. This team should be young and attractive. And one member must somehow be “quirky”. Note: If it’s a CBS show at least one attractive team member must be a brunette.
Throw in some grizzly murders, a cool stylized squad room (who knew police stations looked like the penthouse restaurant in the Space Needle?), and toss in a former major TV star or two and you’ve got a five year run.
So get going. A cop who channels Columbo. A detective who can go forward in time five minutes. A forensic expert who can communicate with inanimate objects. A coroner who can break down the ingredients in food without having to refer to the packaging. The possibilities are endless!
All I ask for in return is the following credit:
Based on a Tired Formula by Ken Levine
Let’s all get rich!
This is a re-post from many years ago but nothing's changed it seems.