Television: Showrunners in Variety

So I'm flipping through my weekly Variety, and they have all these television showrunners featured, you know, little headshots with pull quotes and what not. I find myself skimming them, stopping only to really read the ones from shows I actually watch, or used to watch, or tried to watch . . . Most of the showrunners mention how television is this great way of exploring character, etc. More so than movies because those have a limited amount of time to tell a story, whereas in TV you're trying to make it last (which sometimes also works against it, but) . . . And most of them are men, of course. But whatever.

Still, I look at Rob Doherty's little blurb about how Elementary is a big hit for CBS. And it is. But it only earned a couple Emmy noms. And Doherty's quote is: "You have to make sure you're telling a pretty intricate tale. Our cases always have to merit the attention of Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson." Which is funny because I'd say the reason they didn't get more Emmy consideration (aside from the remarkably stiff competition) is because the stories weren't good enough. They were, at the end of the day, pretty rote procedurals. Elementary needs to up the depth of its character quotient and find some deeper stories if it wants to continue to do well, I think.

Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame says, "The key to almost every successful TV show is a team not pulled in different directions. If you have a small team of three, it greatly increases the same-mindedness." Put another way: Don't let anyone else have a chance. Keep your system closed. We want homogeny here.

Over in Revolution Land, showrunner Eric Kripke has this to say: "Forward momentum is everything on a show." Pretty funny coming from a guy whose show is all about his characters taking one step forward and two steps back. Maybe he meant to say the illusion of forward momentum is everything—if you can just trick the audience into believing something is happening, they might keep watching. (The Following operates under this same theory.)

I'm one to talk, of course. No one has yet picked up my television pilot, but with such a great need for content, eventually someone may be desperate enough to put it into production. And even then, I don't know if I would have the stamina to run a show indefinitely; I'd be happy enough to hand over the pilot and a bible and let it go. Weird because I can invest a lot of time and energy in characters I love, but . . . Running a television show is work beyond work. So I have to really respect these people, even when poking at them. Yes, sometimes an episode falls short, but look at how many they're doing and how quickly they're expected to turn stuff around. So kudos to them in any case, for at least keeping the ship sailing, even if not always on course.

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