Thursday, September 5, 2013
What If... and Boardwalk Empire
The original idea for this blog was to be like a diary, to jot down the thoughts and ideas that rattle through my head. I've had renewed inspiration today to get back to this idea. I love to write researched posts, but my original goal was more modest, and a more "do-able" goal to accomplish each week. Let's see how it goes...
I've just completed season three of Boardwalk Empire. So much drama and violence and interesting characters that I think the rest of this week, I'll stick to YouTube videos of animals on trampolines.
The main takeaway though is situations. The BE writers now have a set of characters that have been set up pretty thoroughly in previous seasons. They can now drop those characters into one interesting situation after another and see what happens: what if... Most TV does this to a greater or lesser degree, but it really jumped out at me in this season of BE.
We think they know a character well. Then using the anything-goes drama of a show like BE, the writers get to take the characters farther by seeing them act in bizarre and extreme situations. We do this in real life; we learn more about our friends and family when we see how they react to new situations and challenges. Although hopefully for us, we'll never be confronted with the extreme level of experience that TV characters usually endure. TV, like BE, is a playground for putting characters through their paces. Writing is a way to ask ourselves what would I do if... I met an alien, wrestled a lion, was abandoned in a strange city, found a box of money, fell in love... It's all a big, super fun, "what if" game.