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TV Continuity

Did you see the Dr. Strange Movie from the 70's? Me neither, but I'm sure someone did. Come here to talk about Movies and TV
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Blackcyclops
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TV Continuity

Post by Blackcyclops » 21 Mar 2011, 13:28

I was watching Buffy today (Season 3) and I noticed how tight the continuity for the show was. And it got me to thinking about continuity in the TV realm. So I started looking at various shows and I started to realize something. First, on TV sitcoms typically had the loosest continuity. I mean yes, one episode would possibly reference something from a previous episode but for the most part each episode was like a stand alone issue (so to speak). The same thing on procedural cop dramas (with the exception of NYPD Blue), they had some continuity but each episode kinda stood alone. While on soap operas and sci-fi type shows (like X-Files, Fringe, Buffy, etc), continuity was very tight.



It got me to thinking about comic books. For everyone on here continuity is important, that's a given. But I have noticed that some of use scrutinize it much more than others. Some won't mind if Havok maybe hates TV for one arc but another down the line says he loves it. Others would call it out of character or the writer ignoring continuity. So I wondered how do you guys reconcile that with TV shows you have or do watch? And how do you deal with retcons on TV? Retcons in comics are the cliche that are cliche-ly scrutinized. On TV, particularly sci-fi type shows, retcons seem to never face that same scrutiny.



So what are you thoughts on TV continuity? Give some TV show examples...

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Gibbering Fool
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TV Continuity

Post by Gibbering Fool » 21 Mar 2011, 20:12

I think you're right that its loose in sitcoms, but even there it varies. I'm a big fan of Corner Gas, a show which is deliberatly set up so that you could watch the episodes in any order (after the first episode) and not get confused.  That 70's Show though often had storylines that continued through the standalone stories (Eric and Donna's engagement, Kelso cheating of Jackie etc).
 
Shows like Buffy, Smallville and Supernatural started off "monster of the week" episodes and seemed to evolve into shows with tight continuity, which is great because "monster of the week" stories get old. Often in Buffy, particularly towards the end of a season, the episodes would continue on from each other.

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Blackcyclops
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TV Continuity

Post by Blackcyclops » 21 Mar 2011, 21:02

Do you think that takes (or adds) a lot to a show? Again I'm not talking the basic continuity but some of the asinine stuff (their favorite soft drink)?

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Gibbering Fool
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Post by Gibbering Fool » 21 Mar 2011, 21:40

I'm really not the sort of person that would care if in one episode Buffy says she hates green jelly, then in the following season she's seen eating green jelly.  Its the same in comics.  I only really get annoying if say some character is alive and well when they had previously died.  Things like the whole Xorn/Magneto mess give me the s#!ts but I don't really seem to care if Iceman is dating a woman and then she's never seen from again in another comic. I'm one of the people that doesn't mind the fact Wolverine is in a dozen teams based all over the U.S.

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Blackcyclops
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TV Continuity

Post by Blackcyclops » 21 Mar 2011, 22:13

Well I was only asking because: sometimes those small things can lead to episodes that focus on them...especially in sitcoms where something as trivial as a character's movie preference could impact an entire episode.

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Gibbering Fool
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Post by Gibbering Fool » 22 Mar 2011, 00:24

I think if a writer keeps track of little details like a character's birthday, favourite movie etc, it shows that they really care about the show and the characters, which can improve the show significantly

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Kipe
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Post by Kipe » 22 Mar 2011, 02:00

I'm kind of a continuity freak, because I'm mostly obsessed with character and plot progression. That's why I loved Buffy and Angel. That's one of the myriad of reasons I hated Charmed, they disregarded their own continuity several times. It got a little tighter as the seasons progressed, but there were a lot of things in the first and second season that ended up being blatantly disregarded later.
 
As far as sitcoms go, I always felt Friends had fairly good continuity and there were constant references to previous episodes.

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Blackcyclops
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Post by Blackcyclops » 22 Mar 2011, 02:09

But is continuity directly connected to character and plot progression?

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UncannyScott
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Post by UncannyScott » 22 Mar 2011, 02:17

When it comes to TV shows, it really depends for me on the types you mentioned. While in comics I like continuity, I'm not a freak. I enjoy when writers don't pretend their work is the greatest around and nothing existed before it or should exist after it. That is why I like a writer like a Carey or such that touch upon what others have done and build upon it. That is one thing I loved about shows like Buffy or Angel or BSG or any other show of that vein. Continuity was tight and characters stayed the same and they did their best to make sure new information from the past didn't contradict what came before but helped strengthen it.



Sitcoms and the like though I don't even blink at continuity stuff. Same for animated. One moment blank character met this character here, but then two seasons later they met here. I love Friends, but I'm pretty sure the backstory of the characters in regards to when they all met one another got wonky every season it went on. Even one of my favorites How I Met Your Mother, where they are a bit more strict on sticking to continuity to fit with the idea of the shows journy, they tend to sometimes flub and change a little something here or there. Since it's the nature of Sitcoms and the like to be all about fresh episodes with only a base knowledge known about characters and their backstories most times, viewers are more likely to just roll with the punches in regards to things.

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Blackcyclops
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Post by Blackcyclops » 22 Mar 2011, 02:25

One thing I do notice though about genre shows though is that they are not above retcons...especially once they get beyond a third season LOL...

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UncannyScott
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Post by UncannyScott » 22 Mar 2011, 13:43

Lol. I think that comes in regards to a show and its runners perhaps feeling a bit safer about their show and the reception to it from fans and the network. If you can make it to the third season you're doing something 'right' perhaps and you can take a bit more chances you didn't before. As long as a retcon, whether in TV or comics, is done well and adds well to the character instead of just adding something odd or contradictory or making the character an ass just cause you can I'm okay with it. The favorite of some is the revelation of a secret someone suddenly was keeping that usually when the secret is revealed it doesn't make a whole lot of sense why it didn't come out when the characters first were interacting as the interactions curently that led to the reveal had happened fifty times before or such. That is a retcon that can be annoying to me.




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Milkshake08
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Post by Milkshake08 » 22 Mar 2011, 15:10

I mostly care about character moment continuity...as in, if it's an important moment for a character, then it shouldn't change. For example, Boy Meets World got hard for me to watch later on because they would have frequent flashbacks and mentions of Cory and Topanga's relationship as if they had been dating since they were in preschool, when the show itself began with Cory finding Topanga extremely weird (since she was a flower child) and showed their eventual progression into romance over the first two or three seasons.
 
I do think that continuity matters to making a good show. Sure, I don't care if in one episode a show says so-and-so's favorite hobby is this and in another episode it's that. But when they are the same, and past moments are referenced, I think it greatly enhances a show because it means the writers are invested in their own plots/characters.

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medium13
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Post by medium13 » 22 Mar 2011, 17:55

Continunity use makes for a better show for me. Buffy is a great example of weaving the monster of the week in with the overarching plans for the season. I especially like that he laced in hints about Dawn in earlier seasons when he knew he was going to throw a wrench in his own continuity. Like Kipe, Charmed's lack of continuity or Universal rules made the show infuriating when it could have been just as good as any other WB material out there.
 
I hate to mention it, because people are going to think I am paid to promote it but Greg Weisman broke a barrier by making a cartoon follow a continuity. According to his blog, it put a great deal of pressure on the animators, writers, and production team to make sure to reference specific episodes and make sure they aired in the correct order, especially during the episodes where Eliza Maza is recovering from being shot.
 
One of my other favorite shows, Medium did not regard continuity with such great esteem but never glaringly offended it either. It followed a strict dream of the week format and didn't bother to deviate.

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Blackcyclops
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Post by Blackcyclops » 22 Mar 2011, 19:07

I wanted to make sure that everyone knows I'm not saying continuity shouldn't exist or that it doesn't matter at all, just was moreso talking about how strict should it be.



I actually fall more into Milkshake's category. I know that if a show is on for a while retcons will come up that might gaff small continuity stuff and I'm cool with that. What I really care about are character-continuity points, things that involve their character progression or identity. I'm not that big of a stickler on small things though.



I will say that American cartoons lack of continuity make them harder for me watch as an adult...thats why I prefer action based cartoons that do follow continuity.

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XtremeOne1
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TV Continuity

Post by XtremeOne1 » 22 Mar 2011, 19:23

Dramas need to have continuity, plain and simple. Dramas are all about the stories and the characters, without continuity it just falls flat on it's face. Just because a show has a monster of the week doesn't mean continuity shouldn't exist. Even Law and Order has small overarching story arcs mixed in with crime of the week.



Sitcoms and Comedies(yeah there is a difference) are a little different. Continuity always makes a show better. Arrested Development, Modern Family, etc. The continuity only makes you laugh more.

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Blackcyclops
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TV Continuity

Post by Blackcyclops » 22 Mar 2011, 20:10

what is the different between the two Xtreme? Not asking sarcastically or anything...

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XtremeOne1
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Post by XtremeOne1 » 22 Mar 2011, 21:09

Comedies can have a mix of true drama in them, while sitcoms are just made for the funny. Comedies often have continuity and storyline while sitcoms are more one-shot episodes dealing with a funny situation with everything resolved in a nice, neat bow in the end. Comedies usually rely strongly on character growth, while sitcoms keep the situation and the characters the same(Friends for example is a sitcom, the characters never really changed too much while Glee is a comedy, The Office is a comedy, Community is a comedy).

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Blackcyclops
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Post by Blackcyclops » 22 Mar 2011, 21:26

Interesting...I kinda see the Office as kinda a sitcom but I see where you going...thanks for that...learned something actually valuable today LOL

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Post by EvilMonkeyPope » 22 Mar 2011, 21:30

I believe character continuity to be important. As a finicky eater, so it breaks the reality if a character professes to hate some food in one episode then eats it nonchalantly in the next.  Favorite foods are actually a good plot device for body swap episodes linke in TMNT. It's also why the scene where Polaris doesn't know Havok hates broccoli rings completely false. Those character traits could be established in a series bible so that they could keep them straight.
When character birthdays change for no reason it's also baffling, especially if the show has good continuity like Buffy.
I'd be interested in seeing a drama without continuity. The closest I can think of is X-Files where the conspiracies kept being retconned and character development was neglible.
I'm glad that the classic Doctor Who continuity carried over into the  new series. It's interesting that Steven Moffat said Doctor Who has no continuity because it's like a sitcom. This annoyed many Whovians, but it's also true to a certain extent. The rules for time travel and other recurring elements vary from story to story. Since there's so many episodes, novels, audioplays, and stories that were merely referenced in dialogue, it's nigh impossible to avoid all continuity errors. I wonder if there's an infographic to make sense of it all?

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Blackcyclops
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Post by Blackcyclops » 22 Mar 2011, 22:21

I'm sure if it is one you'll find it...



I actually liked X-Files LOL...

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