One of the aspects of storytelling that makes teams popular is the fun you can have with them once the characters are established and the team is really working as a team. If you’ve written the characters as strong, contrasting individuals, putting them together in different pairings in different situations can create some great expectations (see Ray and Mick in a Russian prison, for example) and surprising reversals. And once the team has finally bonded, sending them out against a powerful adversary is more than fun, it’s like watching a Rube Goldberg machine in action, the individual moves of the team as exciting as the final outcome of them working together. Continue reading
If you think of a TV season as a novel, the episodes as chapters, you can take apart a season and see where the plot stumbled and where it hit its marks. After “Marooned,” Legends had completed six episodes of a sixteen-episode season and it was way past time for a turning point.
And now we pause for a diagram about story acts and turning points: Continue reading
The Legends team did pretty well in Russia, and they were coming together nicely when they crash-landed in 2065, and Mick wanted to stay, and Snart pressganged him back onto the ship. That’s going to be a test of character-in-action in this episode as the two most dangerous team members face a break in their long-term partnership that endangers the entire team–
Oh, look, a flashback. Continue reading
This double episode is a good team story that’s mostly a lot of fun, but before we get into why, let’s talk about plot and subplot in team stories.
Team stories are naturals for subplots because the supporting characters of the team (assuming the team leader is the protagonist) are naturals for protagonists of smaller plots that support the main conflict. The key is “support the main plot.” The main plot of Legends is about saving family, changing the past and future, risking everything for an outcome that’s worth dying for. So any subplot should echo that to reinforce it, reverse it to act as a foil or contrast, or play off of it in some other way that enhances and deepens it. Let’s look at those potential subplots, taking one team member at a time. Continue reading
I don’t know when I decided I wanted to write a team story, but it was probably somewhere during my first watch of Leverage. And then the Nita story came along and it was clearly a team story in tandem with a romance, and I realized that I didn’t know how to write teams, and then I started watching Legends of Tomorrow . . .
The thing about Legends is that its flaws are so egregious that I can easily see what not to do, but once I peel those things away, its successes are so beautifully done that I can see how they work in contrast. So while I’ll be bashing the show a lot in these posts, I’m pretty sure I’ll always love the things it does brilliantly. It turns out, it’s well worth watching if you know what to look for.
So let’s start with the pilot. It’s mostly awful. Continue reading
So after writing and rewriting and watching and rewatching season one of Legends of Tomorrow and writing and rewriting some more, I’ve discovered that buried within the dreck that is much of the season is a brilliant subplot, real insights into team building, and some great character work. All of which leads me to extend the watch to two weeks (and to amend the original table of contents post here).
Then I put the Thanksgiving gravy on to reduce, fell asleep and almost burned the house down, so I’m going out for canned gravy now. It’s been that kind of week, nothing has turned out as planned, but everything is fixable. I’m not allowing comments on this post because it’s just admin; go back to the original post to talk about any of this. Or anything at all. (This post will disappear in about three days, never to be seen again.)
Today is Shopping Reminder Day.
Like I need a reminder.
Thanksgiving is over, and it’s Christmas time, so here’s your Argh tradition:
(Full disclosure: it’s Dec. 26, 2015, as I type this, but I forgot to post this in time this year. It’s not going to happen in 2016, you betcha.)
Have I mentioned here how important an antagonist is to shaping a plot and the protagonist’s arc? I have? Huh.
Wonder why I never remember that.
AG made me look at the Legends of Tomorrow dynamics more closely, and now I want to do a one-week binge watch. (That’s Killer, Klepto, Pryo over there in the logo.) The first season is on Netflix so if you want to watch along and you have that, you’re good. Expect a lot of bitching from me about Hawks and a truly awful antagonist, plus Rip Hunter, Worst Team Leader Ever. So why do I want to do this? I think this is a great series to look at because it fails so badly at team-building in some aspects and succeeds so brilliantly in others. Leverage is the gold standard in team story-telling, but I think I’m learning more from Legends.
So here’s the plan: Continue reading