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The Mainlining Problem

In addition to a lot of Wi sports games and head shaking over Sarah Palin there were in fact some discussions about writing and other creative matters. Months ago I wrote about the unsatisfying experience of mainlining Battlestar Galactica vs. Buffy or Dead Like Me. I mused about whether a show runner/creator needed to think in terms of how people watched television in this era of Netflix.

Well, Connie reopened the conversation when she talked about renting and watching Poldark the old BBC Masterpiece Theater historical soap that ran years ago. She had loved the show, and found the weekly cliffhangers to be incredibly gripping and exciting. She would spend the week wondering if Demelza would go back to Ross, or what was behind the door, etc. But now she was watching the shows back to back and she found it "flat".

This was my opportunity to raise my question – how do you make it a satisfying viewing experience when you have to service two forms of viewing? Cordelia nailed it. She said that you had to look at the old soap formula. You have three distinct story lines running at the same time. One is being resolved. One is at the tension filled mid-point and one is just getting started. As we talked we began to realize that this was probably not a bad way to run a book series either, and it has sent me away to ponder all this. If I ever do get another shot to create a show for Hollywood I’m going to be thinking back on this Thanksgiving conversation.

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