Great Characters

Regular television programs bore me. There are a few, however, that are outstanding for the brilliant characters they bring to the small screen. Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers are two examples that come to mind. What I like most about these shows is that they show what the general public would consider “regular people” doing extraordinary things. These guys aren’t movie stars or television heroes. They’re people out in the world making a living, doing their level best against some wicked conditions.

Regular TV, on the other hand, is populated with attempts to create characters such as the ones mentioned above. To me, these creations generally fail in that they are either over the top or not authentic. The action star who never runs out of bullets comes to mind, as does the genius detective who never misses a clue. It’s not that I seek unbridled realism, it’s that I’m looking for a more accurate reflection. By structuring the narrative correctly and populating it with better characters, I believe this goal can be achieved.

The First 48, a show about detectives trying to solve actual crimes comes close to the concept I’m trying to conjure up. The detectives are a mixed bag, some flamboyant, some introspective, but all doing what they can (and more) without the sculpted hair, stilted arguments with higher-ups, and fantasy dates in between. Furthermore, the intensity of their pursuits comes across in vivid clarity. The clock is winding down. If they don’t run down the leads and get a suspect in short order, the odds of solving the crime evaporate. That’s an example of structuring the narrative correctly, and it works very well.

Again, it all doesn’t have to be “reality.” I’ll take some science fiction, some straight forward drama, and whatever else the screenwriters can develop. Just keep it closer to the realm of possibility in the context of the given setting. That’s not too much to ask is it?

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