Sunday, August 14, 2011

Interesting Genre Writing

I just read that Marvel Comics is taking a big leap and "killing off" the Fantastic Four. That's a franchise that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started back in '61 and I've been reading it since around '64.

The plan is that one of the Four will die permanently and the Fantastic Four as a team will cease to exist.

A gutsy choice and I'm interested to see how generations of readers will respond to it. Of course, there is some precedence with DC's demise of Superman a few years back.

Another type of writing I've found quite interesting is the work of David Wollstonecraft on the BBC series Spooks (MI-5 in the US). He needed to find a way to rotate out the 3 leads in a very popular show. Generally, in the US that writing would be done abruptly and at the boundary between seasons. I've found it interesting to watch him lay the plot groundwork down in the last half of Season Two and then have the reverberations take place throughout the following season utilizing both the current cast and their replacements. He took four episodes to ease out Matthew McFadyen's lead character, Tom Quinn;6 to remove Keely Hawe's Zoe Reynolds; and the entire season to write out Davis Oyelowo's Danny Hunter. This allowed for the following season to start with a new cast of leads already in place and well-known to the audience. The show seems to hacve kept its audience and viewership actually went up the following season.

The only thing similar I can think of in American television writing is Dick Wolf's rotation of characters in the Law and Order franchise. Wolf was pretty ruthless in replacing characters much similar to a baseball coach replacing players before they become liabilities.

This was generally done very abruptly in a single episode without any lead-in writing.

However, like Spooks, most of the case changes seemed to be accepted by the audience and ratings were maintained. Less so during the final seasons.

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