TV 'B' Story Origins?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by David Echo, Mar 1, 2003.

  1. David Echo

    David Echo Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi All,

    I was on the phone with a friend of mine last night and we were talking all things TV. One of the topics that came up was the practice of having a lesser "B" story running alongside the main "A" story. We were curious when this really began to become common practice. Original Star Trek episodes, for example, are all "A" story but by the time TNG started airing "A" & "B" stories were the trend. I'm 34 and missed a lot ot Classic TV originally but watching re-runs it seems that a single "A" story was the way to go for a good part of TV history. Why did it suddenly change to an "A" & "B" model? We came up with the idea that it was a marketing decision so that if a viewer didn't like the main story they'd sit through it to see the secondary one.

    Any information or thoughts would be helpful on this.

    Thanks in advance

    Dave
     
  2. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    I'm guessing it was Hiss Street Blues - isn't that show generally acknowledged as the point where serialized storylines and ensemble casts, previously the domain of so-called "soap operas", started to infiltrate more episodic genres - in this case, the cop show?
     
  3. Wayne Bundrick

    Wayne Bundrick Cinematographer

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    I don't know when it started but I think it happened by necessity: the writers didn't have a story idea that they could flesh out enough to fill a whole show, but they had two story ideas that could each fill half a show. Also, it gives other characters a scene or two when the "A" story focuses on just one main character. Overall I like it better than trying to stretch out a single story that isn't long enough to fill the episode.

    Maybe the writers on "Hill Street Blues" and other series that took the concept mainstream had prior experience writing for "Fantasy Island" and "The Love Boat".
     

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