How To Create Your Own Home TV Show | tide of quip

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It used to be that choosing what to watch on TV was easy. There were four networks, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, plus a handful of local stations. Every episode of any show had to be self-contained because there were no TiVo or on-demand shows. If you missed an episode, you had to wait for the reruns to catch up.

Networks and streaming services have sprung up like rabbits, but the basics of TV entertainment remain the same. I count six genres, character types, and plot tropes. When you fill in the details, the combinations are endless.

Here are six recurring themes on television, with examples:

▸Fantasy. Westerns were the original television fantasies that placed the viewer in a different time, place, or culture. Gene Roddenberry came up with “Star Trek” as “Wagon Train to the Stars”. “Westworld” is called that for a reason.

▸Situation comedies. “I love Lucy” is “Barney Miller” is “Laverne & Shirley” is “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”.

▸Events. News, sports, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, shows.

▸Games. “The Voice”, “Jeopardy”, “The Bachelorette”, “Iron Chef”.

▸ Dramas. Soap operas, Medical-Police-Fire-CSI, “The West Wing”.

▸ Education: “The French chef”, “This old house”.

People in TV shows fall into different types: Hero, Villain, Victim, Teacher, Student, Talent, and Salesman. Sometimes a single character represents two or more types. Think of your favorite show and match the main characters to their dominant type.

What happens? Someone “falls in love” with someone, “beats” an opponent, “faces danger”, “explains” something, “performs” anything from a song to an appendectomy, or tries to “persuade” the viewer to endorse a politician, lifestyle, belief, or laundry soap.

There you have it, all the TV shows, except maybe “The Prisoner”.

Now it’s your turn. Make a list of shows you like or dislike and their dominant themes. Make a separate list of characters and a list of plots. Then, randomly plug an item from each list into this handy TV show generator:

In (name of show), a (genre), (character), (plot).

For example: “In Gilligan’s Island,” a documentary, news anchor Lester Holt recites “Fox in Socks” by Dr. Seuss.

Right now, a senior executive at NBC News may be negotiating a contract for Lester to have a little side gig reading tongue twisters.

Lester Holt: “Do I really have to do this?”

NBC executive: “Yes, Lester, you have to. Our show developer, a 6-year-old from Rancho Cucamonga, says you’ll get spectacular grades if you recite the Dr. Seuss books. Go ahead, try it!”

Lester Holt: “Listen, sir. Listen, sir, Mr. Knox, sir. Let’s make towers with bricks and blocks, sir. Let’s do tricks with chicks and clocks, sir. First I’ll make a stack of quick bricks, then I’ll make a stack of quick blocks. You can make a quick stack of chicks. You can create a stack of nifty clocks.

NBC executive: “Bravo! This show will be a success.

Lester Holt: “Did Walter Cronkite have to do this to CBS?

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