Character Complexity in Serialized Television

I had an idea a couple years ago based on the premise, “If I were to try and create something like Lost, what would I do? ” — meaning, if I could create a serialized weekly television show that had an underpinning mythology that impacted characters’ lives, what would it look like? 

Every network since 2004 has tried something like this — Prison Break, Kidnapped, The Nine, Invasion, HeroesFringe, etc.  Some are better than others, and others just are not worth the time.  And it’s foolish to assume I could capitalize on something that, in four years, has already become a cliche.  The producers of Lost are looking at calling it quits. Prison Break, from what I’ve read, has lost a lot of its magic.  Heroes started strong, but stumbled through its second season, regardless of the writer’s strike.  Kidnapped, The Nine, and Invasion never made it out of their inaugural years.

Strong characters make a bloated mythology a little easier to swallow. Invasion, for example, maintained a strong initial audience just for that reason.  One of its chief protagonists walked such a line of moral complexity for those initial weeks that you could not determine whether he was hero or villain.  Most Lost copycats stick to mythology, character goes out the window, and that’s when I start to tune out.  

So, with that in mind, I set out to write something I would watch. Something with strong characters that would make my convoluted premise easier to accept. Something with a simpler mythology that took its time rounding out its complexities, and not bogging me down with unending conspiracies. Something with a clear, delineated goal. 

And I finished my first draft two weeks ago.

Maybe something will come of it, maybe not.  I sat on the idea for two years before I finally sat down and hashed out a plot. I want to try and get it ready for a competition some time in the next year, so as progress develops, I’ll try and post little snippets on the screenplay page.

(images (c) ABC)


3 Responses to “Character Complexity in Serialized Television”

  1. 1 izikavazo November 4, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    “The producers of Lost are looking at calling it quits.”
    I hate to nitpick but I have never heard this at all, and I seriously doubt it’s true.

  2. 2 Travis November 4, 2008 at 4:07 pm


    OK…The producers, several times, have stated very clearly they are ending the show with Season 6. Shorthand: they’re looking at calling it quits.

  3. 3 izikavazo November 5, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I see that as a good thing. If only other serialized shows would do that.

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