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Continuity! Or, a horse Not of a different color…

One of the things that makes me truly, madly, deeply love a television show (or movie franchise for that matter) is continuity. The little and big things that tie over from season to season, or even from episode to episode. (spoilers for Person of Interest below the jump)

We’ve all done it. We’ve all faithfully watched shows and fallen in love with their characters only to get jarred out of the moment when Sally goes, “My only cousin, Rick! Oh my God! How’s your mother doing?” and we think, “Wait a minute, Sally’s parents were both orphaned, only children in season one. What happened there?”

It’s a small, but telling thing, how much writers are paying attention to their own shows. And I know that writers in season two or three frequently aren’t the same writers as those in season one, but doing the research of watching previous seasons isn’t exactly a hardship. Especially if you like the show enough to want to write for it.

One of the most annoying things to me is when a character is severely injured (shot/stabbed/blown up) but the very next week (s)he is up and about chasing, or running from, the bad guys. We all roll our eyes at that, right? Come on, be honest.

Person of Interest is my new favorite show. I’ve been watching it since episode one. Between the slow burn of the characters’ development, both as individuals and their relationships together; the quality of the stories themselves; and the “omg that’s just not a good idea!” cringe factor of just waiting for something to blow up in their faces, it’s a show that keeps me coming back for more.

It’s the continuity, however, that makes me shake my head in wonder sometimes.

Continuity –

  • There’s a very unassuming mobster who just keeps popping up in discreet and devious ways, both behind the scenes and on-screen.
  • John gets shot and, to my shock, it took him 3 full episodes to recover. And really, who doesn’t want to see him fighting with crutches?
  • A pharmaceuticals company whose CEO and VP were arrested several episodes ago thanks to John and Harold, tied in to last week’s episode as the catalyst for the “number of the week” victim’s own crisis.

All of this continuity adds genuine layers to the show and the writers showcase that wonderfully. This is storytelling at its best. Because it’s not really the big things that are hard to get right, but the little touches. Knowing the characters’ backstories and tying in the gems of continuity that so many other shows either skip altogether or get wrong.

So when you (my fellow writers) have your own television show, remember the continuity. I promise that your fans will reward you not just by watching, but telling all their friends to watch, too. Which is what I’m recommending everyone do with Person of Interest.

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About Nancy M. Griffis

Author and screenwriter who loves scifi/action/adventure/urban fantasy genres. I have two published novels, Mind Games and Eternal Investigations, as well as a short story published for charity called "Home Fires Burning." All are available through amazon.com and barnesandnobles.com.

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Nancy at the Tim Burton exhibit in L.A.

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