One of the things I’ve said that I would do if I won a kajillion dollars is that I would start a television channel. I’d start like many channels do — with limited cheap programming until I could get things off the ground — but the goal would be to create an entire line-up of shows that worked the way I wanted them to work.
I would hire a combination of professionals who I think are underrated, friends, and experts who want a chance to do new things.
I’m a big fan of episodic dramas (not talking soap operas here, but shows like CSI and Life and Angel and Harry’s Law and so on), but it bothers me that these types of shows tend to end one of two ways — way before they should have, or way after they have jumped so far over the shark that they can’t even see the shark behind them anymore. Very few television shows ran their course and ended when they should have. The reasons are almost always based on advertising revenue. If the money is good, the show must keep going, even if the actors are all leaving and we have to get new faces in there and pretty soon the show isn’t even about what it originally was about. If the money is bad, even if the show is brilliant, kill it.
Not on MY network.
On my network, creative control would belong primarily to the writers. (I say “primarily” because any television show really is a collaboration. And some writers start strong but turn out to be idiots.)
On my network, there would be two types of dramas. Those with ongoing major plots, and those built to be episodically contained.
The ones built to be episodically contained (think Law & Order or similar) would basically keep going as long as the writing and acting stayed fresh. When it felt like everything had been mined, the series would wrap up with the best conclusion possible. If this sounds vague and tenuous, it’s because it is — this is, I think, what most of these shows try to do, so I’d have to make sure we didn’t get blinded to our own reality.
The ones with ongoing major plots (think Lost or Awake) would be required to have a fully written concept before filming began — one that outlined exactly how long it would take to resolve the issues raised.
That’s right. No program like that would get a green-light without essentially being a completely realized and specifically limited series.
Almost like a mini-series, but with full seasons. A maxi-series? Something like that.
I would want at least a complete paragraph — preferably a full five-page treatment — on every single planned episode, so that I knew if I was green-lighting a three-year show, a five-year show, or what.
So, my important question for you is…
Am I completely focused on preferences that are solely mine? Or would you also like to see shows that know what their plot is and how they’re going to wrap it up without worrying about adding “filler” seasons or dragging things out?
Talk to me, internet.