Lesson #6: Character Strengths
Television as a writing medium intrigues me. I love the potential to delve into a character’s life and explore in detail different themes and situations on an episode by episode basis. In order to teach myself about writing for television I completed a project during the 2011-2012 television season to further those efforts. I tried all of the pilots of any show that I could possibly be interested in. Let me tell you, it was a lot of television. There were eight of these shows that made my cut but didn’t score with the networks. In this series I’ll explore why I felt they had potential yet explain the pitfall that caused the show to stumble and die.
Before I even really watched television I saw a couple of episodes with Ally Walker in Profiler. Wow, she blew me away! So The Protector was a must see for me. I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t a show that broke new ground or even blew me away, like I said it was pleasant… and it proved Ally Walker still has acting chops. Here’s the thing – the reason Profiler was so great was because it worked to her strengths as an actress.
Much like Kristen Stewart, Ally Walker has this natural vulnerability that films very well. In The Protector she was simply playing against her strengths. I personally loved the quirky stance she took for her character and enjoyed the different relationships she had with her partner, her brother, her lieutenant, her sons and even her different love interests. These relationships didn’t create situations where you’d naturally feel vulnerable and neither did her cases.
As a writer if I was going to go with this quirky character then I’d have really run with it. Made the cases quirky and her relationships quirky. I’d have made her position on the force quirky in some way that makes her one of a kind. Bones and Castle cases come to mind when you think quirky. On Bones the cases always have bones involved. On Castle the way found, position, and/or circumstances of the body always has the feel of a plot opener for a murder mystery book.
It’s not that she can’t play a member of law enforcement, a mother or a lover well – it just doesn’t maker her special either. In a show called The Protector you need to be able to stand out. Think about House, The Mentalist, The Closer and Bones. Yeah I know – there is some X factor that each headliner does well or that makes them different from every other person on the planet. Ally Walker’s special-ness is her vulnerability and this wasn’t banked on in her headliner television show.