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Working With What You've Got
by Schuyler

This is a big moment for me.  I'm striking out on my own, I'm drawing my own picture, travelling my own path . . . . I'm writing my very first column.  Oh, boy.

But there's something I feel very strongly about.  It starts out in the realm of TV (y'know, the shows that the production companies think they, ha-ha, own) but eventually moves into fan-fiction.  Please bear with me.

I've noticed on occassion that when a show is lagging--or appears to be in a momentary downward slide--a new character appears on the show.  Perhaps this is just coincidence.  After all, it doesn't happen on every show, and we're always looking for ways to make our shows more interesting.

But I just don't like it when new characters appear in addition to the ensemble cast that's already waiting to get air time.

Take, for example, The Sentinel.  During the last season, the character of Megan Conner was introduced.  Although I eventually (as eventually as one gets in half a season) grew to like her, I resented the fact that she was there.  To me, adding a new character takes away from the potential of the supporting cast.  Taggart, Rafe, and Brown were familiar to me.  Rather than adding another face to the crowd, I would have loved to see their characters fleshed out more.

The same goes for Roswell, at least for now.  I'm sure Tess will be a very interesting person (I've read spoilers), but I'm kinda sick of the Romeo and Juliet replay of Max and Liz's relationship every other week.  I'm happy the Michael and Maria (together or not) are getting more air time, but what of Alex, Sheriff Valenti, and Kyle Valenti?  Although their names and faces flash by at the beginning of every show, I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't all a cruel illusion.

I could cite a few more examples, but by now you're probably shifting in your seat and thinking, "get *on* with it already," so let's focus on the fan-fic side.

I was looking through one of my favorite fan-fic sites, and I came across a Sentinel story (can't remember the name or author, but I do know I've read much of her work--she's good)that I thought might be pretty good.  Then I looked at the short description.  In effect, is stated that Cascade must call on it's favorite team--Jim, Blair, and Megan--to solve a puzzling crime.  Megan?  Huh?  I never read the story, even though the writer is quite talented.  I just couldn't get past Megan being listed as part of the Dynamic Duo (so should it be Dynamic Trio?).

Yeah, yeah, I'm getting to the point.  It's simply this:  when new characters are added to TV shows, they usually end up being added to fanfiction.  In both cases, the supporting cast (or even in an ensemble crew) gets lost in the shuffle.  To my mind, the trick for improving a show is not to add more characters (and thereby adding more weight and confusion), but to work with what you've got. Give depth and background to the people the audience is familiar with and see what happens.

Some may argue that original characters in fanfiction are like "new characters" but I don't agree.  Original characters are not added to the dimension of the TV show itself, just the fiction.  They have nothing to do with ratings and time slots, and lend no weight to the life or death of a supernatural cop show or a teen alien drama.

I think I'm done for now.  My senior english teacher always said to finesse an ending to a paper, but my mind is blank.  Hmm. Maybe reading a Rafe story or an Isabel snippet will help. 


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