Before we get too comfy and a little too tipsy, let’s discuss the essential characteristics of a strong, sustainable, and entertaining pilot episode. As a Showrunner, this is the one shot you have to prove that your creative brain child is worth raising into a full blown adult television series.
The harsh reality of the film and television industry is that money flows where more money can be made. Networks and production companies typically won’t invest in an idea that’s too creative, progressive, or difficult to digest, because they are too risky of an investment. It’s the exact reason why sci-fi series never last longer than a season. The industry is makes it’s profits on audience reception and ratings, so it tends to follow the trends of mainstream culture. When the Twilight phenomena swept the nation, it didn’t take long for that wave to expand into the world of television, and frankly everywhere else for that matter. Vampire themed shows were popping up on every major network and were wildly successful during it’s peak, which made the head honchos at these networks extremely happy.
As a writer though, these types of shows can be somewhat insulting to our intelligence and abilities. So why exactly would any one who actually has a brain follow these mainstream trends?
Needless to say, getting a pilot from script to screen is an uphill battle from the FADE IN: till the FADE OUT. Which is why the television industry is oversaturated with the same predictable and monotonous storylines. The less you have to explain to the audience, the more likely they are to invest their time into the show, and the happier the network executive is counting his stacks of hundred dollar bills. So without further adieu, in PART TWO of this post, we’ll dive into the extensive world of television and begin to break down the key elements of a what’s makes a pilot episode successful.