Saturday, February 20, 2010

TV "Style Conventions" I Love

Beyond the characters, the writing, the plotting, the direction and the acting, there are many reasons why you might love a television show. Little stylistic choices, or "conventions" if you will, that help establish the mood and tenor of a program. For example, the ticking clock (both visually and aurally) on 24. Episodes titles for Friends that are always "The One With...." The "chung chung" sound on Law & Order.

Here are a few from current shows that I love:

The character-identifying chyron titles on Burn Notice, where the text flies in and freeze frames someone as "Michael's Worst Nightmare" or "Arms Dealer with a Grudge."

The 3D floating location identifiers on Fringe.

When the crew on Leverage pulls a con, toward the end of the episode, we usually get a quick black and white flashback to show how they did it.

The different sounds used to indicate a flashback, flashforward or flashsideways on Lost.

The "to the camera" confessionals on The Office and Parks & Recreation.

The choral "soundtrack" and musical stingers on Glee.

The faux Veridian Dynamics commercials that usually run during an episode of Better Off Ted.

The way the credits to The Closer typically unfold, with a full opening scene playing out, interspersed with stark text on black background credits, all underscored with a bluesy guitar.

The episode naming conventions for The Big Bang Theory and Community, which suggest (respectively) scientific theorems ("The Lizard-Spock Expansion") or college classes ("Comparative Religion").

Belle's in character (but out of story) asides to the camera/audience in Secret Diary of a Call Girl.

The "fake FBI Agent" names (usually classic rock inspired) the Winchester brothers always give in Supernatural ("Agent Plant and Agent Page").

The beautifully done depiction of Zoe Graystone, the "personality" trapped inside the Cylon robot, in Caprica, which cuts back and forth from the CGI'd gleaming metal monstrosity to actress Alessandra Torresani.

What about you? What conventions or stylistic quirks from your favorite shows make you love them that much more?

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