On episode 296 of Scriptnotes John brings on special guest David Lindelof in place of Craig this week. Lindelof is a successful t.v. writer for various shows and film like Lost and Star Trek: Into Darkness, and now recently wrapping up the last season of HBO’s The Leftovers, which is the show runner of. Lindelof shares plenty of interesting and informative insight on the process of being a show runner and writing a show in today’s age of binge watching versus tuning in week to week.
Lindelof first discusses why he likes to write for television and the process of how running a show is like. He said he really enjoys to collaborate and be in the “writers room” where everyone and work towards a similar goal of making a great show. He said from writing Lost he constantly gets asked if they were writing everything as they went along and his answer was no. He said they carefully craft an outline and story beats they want to reach, but at the same time focus on that particular part of the story at hand. He said its good that the writing team isn’t focuses on writing something great for season two and have season one lack in story before it gets there. He says that as you continue to write the story it allows you to come up with new things to emerge creatively so that even though you may have the general idea of where the story is going to go you may also have to to implement new things as you tell the story.
Another interesting discussion of the podcast is where they talk about shows being written for streaming versus shows that premiere on a weekly bases. For Lindelof, he’s only worked with shows that premiere on t.v. and likes the idea of having an episode have time to sink in over the week before watching it again. He said watching something like Stranger Things, where it is all dumped at once to binged felt like he didn’t savor it and it went by too fast. John says a show like FX’s Legion is a show where he feels like the the writing it catered to shows that would be better suited for streaming because of it’s contents connective tissue that seems to be better understood if you watch it in a bulk rather than wait a week. Lindelof says that shows these days are better to be apporached with people having their cake and eating it too. Where it walks a fine line of being a show that doesn’t seem like it will be a huge investment in waiting to have all the episodes to binge but also can be enjoyed on a weekly basis. He uses the serialized anthologies like FX’s Fargo as a good example, where people who binge it don’t need to catch up all years of seasons to get invested but can also be enjoyed as the episodes premiere.
This was a really fun episode that gave a lot of perspective to t.v. writing and how running a successful show works.