ConStar Studies Scandal (And Season Pacing)

Tonight’s Scandal was a little lot crazy. And reading TV Line’s post episode Q&A (don’t even look at the URL if you haven’t seen the episode. Seriously.) with creator Shonda Rhimes got me thinking about season pace.

So tonight’s episode of Scandal was episode 13, which tends to be a biggie since a lot of shows initially get a 13 episode order for the season (and if it goes well, the ‘back 9’ are added on), so it’s often big; often acts like a possible season finale, and usually crops up right in time for February Sweeps. Perfect ratings combination.

Without spoiling too much of the episode (either you don’t care or I hate spoiling things for people), know that a major story arc is, well, not concluded, but is partially resolved. But only in the sense that there is more crap to come later on. LOL. Reading the TV Line article, Shonda Rhimes says the next episode comes with a time jump (harking back to episode 13 as a season finale, 14 is maybe Season 2 part 2). In the TV Line article, she says:

When we got the 22-episode order [for Season 2], I was like, “We’re not going to slow the show down,” because that would change what the show is.

A lot of praise goes to British television shows because of how well they construct stories and spread them out over the season (and other reasons, destroying the hearts of their fans is another thing) but usually they only get 13 episodes per season (British Brevity). So the stories are more compact. American TV, on the other hand, spreads things out over 22 episodes. Which is great for having more story and more time with your favorite characters, but sometimes slows down the momentum of a story arc and we’re stuck complaining about filler episodes.

So it’s a little refreshing to see a showrunner decide not to have those filler episodes (though the next few are naturally filler-esque after the heavily serialized episodes we’ve been treated to on Scandal) and to jump straight into the next story arc. More shows could learn from not spreading their intended story out, but instead compressing it into a few episodes and moving on. What you move on to could be unrelated, but that might feel jarring, or you can just complicate the first arc and have the new one feed off of that one. (Something I think the show Angel always did very well.)

Obviously, I have to watch the next few episodes of Scandal to see how the time jump and the switch to a new story arc are handled and how they feel coming from the same season, but I just couldn’t help but think about the way a season progresses after reading that TV Line article.

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