Lessons Learnt From Season 1

Whilst the show is always in development, here between seasons can I sit back and take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of the show and look at the lessons learnt and how to improve the show for season 2. This is by no means a list of promises but rather a list intentions.

Early on in the season I received an email from someone who found the show on myspace. His sentiments were that whilst the show had funny “bits” the pace was far too slow. It was only I few week later that I realised exactly what he meant.

Comedy timing comes from practice, trial and error. Not only delivery of lines but also in the edit. It can’t be taught and often can’t be identified but certainly can be improved. And by the simple act of working on a show every week there is noticeable improvement as the show progresses past the mid point of the season. But that’s not to say active steps can’t be taken to tighten up.

Several measures have and will be taken to improve pace. Starting with a clip before the (now shorter) title sequence work very well and will be implemented more in season 2. In the case of Detective Fashion this will take the form of a teaser sequence that takes us straight into the action. (In media res.) The chat show’s teaser will introduce the character prior to the official ‘recording’ of the chat show.

Likewise scenes should be shorter. The length of scenes is most noticeable in the talking head scenes such as Fashion’s office scenes and Sandy’s name dropping slot. These will be cut down or removed whenever possible in favour of more action oriented communication. The mantra, show don’t tell is vital here and visual communication is to be implemented as much as possible.

In fact whilst direct address to the audience is a key element of the show it is very easy to over use it so this can be broken up with interruption such as phone calls or visual/graphic cutaways.

Sound has to improve. not only recording quality but overall sound design. for example, Fashion’s phone calls should be heard both side of the conversation, perhaps with a news like corner picture in picture graphic or even split screen. The ambient track on Lemon Spy Ring and Fancy Oxe work well and should explored more fully as Fashion goes to more exotic locations.

Likewise music should be used more. The sound bridges on Fashion’s show should be replaced with a fuller underscore that adds drama and enhances mood further. The season finale uses this a little but at the risk of adding drama at the expense of the comedy. With music in mind during the writing process i believe this can treated properly. Fashion’s theme music needs to be faster and fuller and hopefully more memorable.

The use of black and white, in reference to film noir has not worked as well i hoped for the simple reason that I was unaware that film noir is a student cliché. It’s not cool and not clever. Three days before Missing Scientist aired I attended a showcase night of student films and was mortified to see that three of them were comedy noir. The next day the episode was regraded as faux colour to escape this trapping. Season two will be in full colour, albeit with interesting and at times experimental palettes. The chat show’s faux retro pallete can remain but behind the scenes footage should look cold.

On the good side the puppet from Lemon Spy ring and the Final Justin were very effective and add a little magic to the show which can be developed. Likewise more CGI and explosions are welcome to add a little more humour and otherwise enrich the show. Wherever possible, like the sound design these effects should facilitate the story.

The narrative has become more important overall. Therefore I intend the chat show to be more centred around “The time when…hosted the show” this extra level
about a chat show rather than a chat such itself should open up possibilities as to what is going on fictitiously behind the scenes. I also want closer integration between the two series strands. This was the original intentional of the show but it didn’t work out that way due to the way the series was filmed.

Likewise the stories for Fashion should become more complex and more character driven. DK has expressed an interest in playing more characters so they can be written in. More importantly these extra characters should be viewed as a means of what they mean to Detective Fashion. Clearer identification of relationships can provide a wealth of more material. Just why are Reg/Sandy/Mr. Magoo and Fashion friends?

By far the biggest obstacle, (most noticeable in the Missing Scientist) has been the balance between comedy and drama. Whilst Sandy’s episode My Drug Heaven contains no drama at all (and consequently becomes rather unfunny as a result) Fashion’s season finale has too much story to allow it to be funny. Therefore it seems the right move it is to streamline the action taken and reenforce the conflict between characters. This last one will take time to get right so don’t expect big changes for a while yet – it’s going to take a lot more practice.

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