In order of appearance and appearance of order…

The opening of the Good Wife sets the stage for the main conflict in Alicia Florrick’s life, her husband’s dalliances with his money and sex life. While her husband stands addressing the media about these indiscretions, Alicia stands by his side absorbed in the lint  stuck on his jacket. This minuscule object remains unseen by the journalists and cameras, but Alicia’s proximity to it allows her to see this pest in a magnified way. She reaches to pick it off, like a good wife, wanting her husband to be seen at his best. However, Peter Florrick just grabs her outstretched hand and carries her off into the back corridor.  Finally, he has the decency to ask her if she is okay, to which she replies with a tumultuous slap to his face. The tension within their relationship is made clear within the first few minutes of this initial scene.

This initial scene, while illustrating Alicia’s loss and stakes in the series, also establishes the character arc of Peter Florrick who announces he has decided to run for re-election in the final scene of the season.

The next major character we meet is Will Gardner, an old friend of Alicia’s, possibly more. Alicia formally thanks him for this opportunity, and their conversation is interrupted by an irritating ringtone. Alicia explains that this is the ringtone her daughter has programmed into her phone for her mother-in-law. This scene not only gives a sense of Will and Alicia’s sentiments towards each other, but also provides information about two off-screen characters. The daughter is now associated with the mood of the ringtone- we get the sense that she does not like her grandmother much either by herself or along with Alicia. In addition, we get a sense of the grandmother as the new busy body caretaker type who has become the pesky housewife type who calls the main breadwinner at the most inopportune times. Furthermore, this scene establishes that Will would like to have dinner with Alicia to catch up, which while glazed over still hints at the underlying desire of Will towards Alicia, after all bosses do not usually have one on one dinners with their new employees to “catch up”.

Needless to say, his desires eventually culminate to a point of climax at the end of the season with a well-timed phone call to Alicia while she waits in the wings as her husband gives his announcement. To which she gives a great reply- “I need a plan.” This is what makes her a good wife- not her fidelity, but her outward appearance of order, her financial and emotional stability. When her husband fails, she picks up the pieces, cleans the lint of his suit, and finds her own emotional and financial stability to provide for their children.

However, the series with all its rich overlaying conflicts and characters remains empty without at least one or two rivals. Of course, over the series a few more are established, and each episode has its own obvious opposition on each case. However, in the first episode, the primary rival for a position at the company is established as Cary, a young cocky lawyer with great credentials, but not much experience in court. Naturally, he shows his admiration to a mother who has returned to work, then conveniently lets slip that they are in competition of which Alicia was not aware. This adds stakes to every case she is on, as well as in the future episode where the partners make a decision. Cary then works for a rival firm and is established as a renewed rival from outside of the company.

Now, how does this series relate to Fear Or Favour?

All of these elements- the character arcs, the conflicts, the parallels, and the order can be used within the narratives of our own show. The initial conflict remains as an overarching serial theme in the series while each episode remains episodic within its own cases. This dynamic of serial and episodic allows each episode to have a clear conclusion and yet continue along a trajectory which is established within a pilot. Therefore, within Fear Or Favour, while the pilot establishes a large subject which is close to the character’s home (literally), they also have to continue with their everyday work lives and schedules. We have established the high stakes as the life of the characters and the firm is now in peril with this scandal. We have also established a great rival within the law enforcement which can be a continual force of opposition in reference to the unfeeling and uncompromising laws.

Now to create the parallels and order…

As described above, a great way to end a season would be to have a parallel of the first scene of the pilot. This form of cyclical imagery allows for a more satisfying conclusion even when things are still tense or unclear, as seen in The Good Wife. While Alicia has overcome the rival for her position in the company, she may have helped establish Cary as an even bigger threat outside of it. In addition, the scandal around her husband still has not fully resolved- in fact, if anything its threat has increased with him running for office again.  This hook is a simple yet effective tool to maintain viewership over the consecutive  seasons, and will surely be a help if we employ it in our web series.  So while The Good Wife may not be a web series, its structure, both serial and episodic, and seamless introduction of characters is a great starting point for our own creative endeavour.

The Pilots of Damages, Ally McBeal, Suits, and The Good Wife: Where Do We Fit?

Note: this was submitted via email on the correct date, but I was unable to add to the blog as I was in Seattle and sent it from my phone.

For the past month, the writing team and I have struggled with nailing down the perfect pilot episode. There a ton of elements which make a good pilot. Firstly, it should establish the tone of the show. Is it dark, funny, family-based? Let the viewer know what they’re getting into. It should also have a gripping opener. This is important in any episode of any show, but with the first, it needs to bring people in to be viewers for the entirety of the series. It also needs to introduce the characters. It shouldn’t give too much away though. It should give the viewer enough information to get a sound idea of who these people are, but not so much that it leaves no room for character development. It lastly should introduce the plot for the whole season, or even series.

Continue reading

Can I Trust You? – An Impression of Damages

Lawyers. Lawyers and doctors are a staple of television. Anyone who’s done some channel surfing can probably name a few shows about one or the other or both. But I have a question for you channel surfers: do you know why there are so many? I don’t. But I have an idea. Which is good because I’m one of the writers working on Fear or Favour. It’s a web series that follows two lawyers and their kin. That probably sounds familiar. But that’s just the bones. The meat is what makes it better.

Continue reading

A third, much older Suit

First off, I want to apologise to Kate and Glen.  You both have already done two wonderful in-depth analysis on Suits. And I will do my best not to re-hash what you two have already covered or steal any of your content. But It’s the show I’m most familiar with, so I feel like I have to talk about it. And I have to agree with both of you. Suits is the sort of show that we should be examining for developing Fear or Favour.

Continue reading

Straighten Your Ties Ladies and Gentlemen

Are mind-blowing explosions not your thing? Do you prefer clever and witty dialogue to the scare of the recent Hollywood horror blockbuster? Most of all do you like characters with pretty faces, or do you much more prefer characters with pretty faces and magnetic personalities? If so Suits is the show for you. Now, now, don’t sigh and roll your eyes. Getting through that first season is going to be worth it, so sit back, grab some popcorn, forget the sleep you wanted and binge Suits on Netflix. You’re in for a treat.

Continue reading

Fear or Favour, Damages, and the Storyteller

Since the first day we sat down to write our web series, Fear or Favour, it was clear that we were treading in extensively charted water. The courtroom drama has been done again and again and again and again. Across the last twenty years you couldn’t mention the words law or order without everyone in the room thinking of the epic series, and nowadays it would be difficult to walk down the street without bumping into someone who isn’t heading home to binge-watch the newest season of Suits on Netflix. There’s something about lawyers that just make great drama. You’d think that after years of our constant exposure to things like fraud in the courtroom, crooked judges, and fake witnesses, television audiences might get a little bored. And the truth is, they do. For all the successful, long-running series’, there are about a zillion more that never made it past their first season. The trick to writing an interesting law drama isn’t to create something entirely new: after all, the law is the law. Instead, it is to take something we’ve all seen before and to tell that story in a way that no one could have ever imagined possible.

Continue reading

Suits Season 1 Pilot and Finale Trajectory and Conflict Analysis


As a contemporary law show that has run five seasons, Suits is a must-see series while developing Fear or Favour. While structuring the pilot of our web-series, it will be valuable to mind how the pilot of Suits establishes the trajectory of it’s first season. Each episode of Suits, beyond the two-part pilot, is approximately 45 minutes long, which affords more room for characters and their development.

Continue reading

Pilots: We have lift off

As we go to camera for Fear or Favour’s first episode a fight-or-flight response kicks in and we fight for our pilot until it flies. What I mean by that is that the first episode is a base to see whether the series will be picked up and can hold the attention of an audience. It is a snapshot of a much larger story and hope it will make you want to follow it until the finale, and with only so many minutes in a pilot to do so we must work with all cylinders firing.

Working on a Law Drama means you need to understand what excites people while teaching them. What makes the drama of law interesting to an audience. TV shows fall into two categories: Procedural, which focuses on one case and episode to solve, and Serial, which follows a gradual arch in a larger story.

Continue reading