Course DescriptionFrom period dramas like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire to fairy tale-inspired procedurals like Grimm to musicals like Smash and Glee, the diversity of shows on TV today is unprecedented. This course begins with a guided analysis of contemporary network and cable pilot scripts, ranging from the serialized to the procedural. Students examine the structures, episodic breaks, and essential elements of functional origin stories. Each student devises a five- to ten-page treatment or pitch document describing an idea for an original series, including character breakdowns, a pilot synopsis and brief outline of the first season, a description of episode structure (A and B stories), and a statement of theme and tone. After these have been reviewed, students go on to write the first and second acts of their original scripts.
- How episodic and procedural television shows are structured, and drama is developed and conveyed across multiple episodes.
- What aspects and qualities of episodic television shows most often connect with audiences, and why.
- Skills for creating a developing an original pitch document for a television series.
- Students will complete the class with a developed pitch for television series, and be in a position to begin writing complete scripts.
- Understanding why certain shows are successful, and learning how to apply those dramatic and structural techniques to a student’s own writing.
- Students learn how to analyze dramatic questions explored in the course of a series or season and identify unique selling points.